Book Review: The Future of the Professions

the-future-of-the-professionsThis book is a fascinating glimpse into the future of expertise. It looks at the traditional professions (such as law, accounting, and medicine) and widens the field by adding others such as divinity, journalism, and management consulting.

The father-and-son team of Richard and Daniel Susskind group them together because they all have these four features:

  1. They have specialist knowledge
  2. Their membership is based on credentials and qualifications
  3. Their activities are regulated
  4. They are bound by a common set of values

These are the things that have protected these professionals (and the public) in the past. But these strengths are also their greatest weaknesses. In our fast, flat and free world:

  1. Knowledge is easily accessible, so specialist knowledge matters less
  2. You don’t need credentials or qualifications to succeed
  3. Regulation and controls restrict progress, and professionals face competition from providers outside the regulated regime
  4. Consumers don’t necessarily value the common values of the profession anymore

All this means the professions are under attack, and the Susskinds map out the battlefields in clear and convincing detail.

A large section of the book is called “Theory”, but don’t let that put you off. It’s really talking about the various influences and technologies that put pressure on the professions – such as Big Data, robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things.

The following section, “Implications”, applies those influences to the professions, and explains how they play out in the real world for those professionals.

Even if your business doesn’t fall into the “professionals” category, this book is a canary in the coal mine for what’s ahead. And if your business does fall into that category, it’s a must-read!

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