I’m speaking at the FPA (Financial Planning Association of Australia) national conference this week about The Future of Leadership, and we’ll be looking at the skills for the future workforce.
One of the key skills identified by the Institute for the Future is “transdisciplinarity”, which is about applying ideas, skills and expertise across different disciplines and industries. For example, historian and political pundit Allan Lichtman was one of the few experts who correctly predicted Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, using a system he developed that’s loosely based not on politics, but geophysics!
But what does transdisciplinarity mean for YOU?
As a leader or manager, you’re already applying your skills (and your team’s skills) to your current project, current business, and current industry. It might not seem obvious – or useful – to look wider.
But it is! If you can see things that are happening outside your current focus and imagine how they can affect you, you become much more valuable as a leader – and help future-proof your organisation. If you can take it a step further and connect multiple things, you become even more valuable.
Here’s an example …
Let’s stick with the financial planning example, and look at some of the technology that might affect it:
So, following the diagram above, you can imagine this scenario in the near future:
- Artificial Intelligence software will collect big data and use predictive analytics to design customised financial plans (This is what the industry calls “robo-advice”).
- Clients use gamification (like Pokémon Go did) to motivate and reward them for keeping to their plan.
- They use virtual reality to create and “step into” future scenarios.
- When making decisions in daily life, augmented reality software helps them stay on track with their plan and goals.
And then you can imagine a tiny bit further down the track:
- Genetic mapping before birth can guide the planning process even more precisely.
All of this technology is available now – it’s just not connected up that way yet. Some of it (like Big Data) is already infiltrating the world of financial advice, so it’s already making waves. But the rest isn’t far behind!
This is not just about financial planners, of course. The same principles apply to every team, every business, and every industry.
How can you improve your transdisciplinarity?
This is a skill you can develop both for yourself and your team. It’s simple – and easy – but you do need to commit to it:
- Scan: Encourage your team members to look out for new trends and new technology, especially from outside your industry.
- Connect: As a team, think of ways to connect them to your business and your industry. The connections might not be obvious at first, but keep looking!
- Embrace: If possible, actually adopt these ideas and start using them!
If you truly want to be fit for the future, learn to be a “transdisciplinarian”!