Applying Foresight: Staff Career Development for the Changing World

Over the past few years, the term “VUCA world” has been used more and more often in the managerial literature, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What does it stand for? Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous- paints a scary picture, doesn’t it? From my point of view, it’s just a scary way of acknowledging that things are ever-changing. But we know that, don’t we? In leadership, you face changes and challenges daily that continuously shape and then re-shape your strategy.

Understanding that things are always in flux doesn’t mean that we can’t prepare for the future. In fact, preparing for the future is a big consideration when it comes to the professional development of your team members. One of the main goals of development is to build a skill and knowledge base that will help your teams and organizations better face the future. How can we know what skills will be most valuable in the future? That’s what we’ll explore today.

We explored the concept of hindsight conversations in our previous update- conversations that promote staff reflection on their skills, values, and interests and explore the ways in which they can incorporate these into their career development plans. However, making career decisions based solely on interests and preferences, with no consideration of where the future is taking your industry can lead, very quickly, to a dead-end. We don’t want staff focusing on developing skills that will soon become obsolete. To help your staff members focus their career efforts in a way that will lead to longer-term, productive outcomes, we also need to use a little foresight.

The past few years have produced some excellent examples of how foresight can make or break an organization. Could anyone have foreseen that a worldwide pandemic would have us all scrambling to adapt our work to a strictly virtual world? Probably not (and if they could, they would have bought a lot of stock in Zoom). But the world has been moving online more and more every year, this is not a new trend. With the use of foresight, there were many organizations that had already begun exploring ways to offer their services remotely, and developing their teams with the skills necessary to do so.