We live, and work, in a world that is more connected than it ever has been before. People move from one country to another to pursue career opportunities and seek a better life. Businesses trade across borders. Cultures become intermingled and so do value chains. But of course, even the most effective operations will sometimes go through challenging periods. Tackling these requires sensitivity, vision and drive.
Breaking any complex challenge down into its component parts can be an extremely effective approach to identifying potential solutions. Occasionally, it might allow you to isolate the one specific link in the chain that has been causing problems. But more often, it enables you to fully appreciate the interconnectedness of the people, processes, or problems you are working with.
You have to consider a series of interlocking parts and appreciate how making a change to one aspect or element can influence the whole.
At this point in time, there has been a re-emergence of nationalistic sentiment and we’re seeing it all across the globe. The reality is that in the USA and in Europe there has been a change in the dialogue around what it means to be part of an interconnected world, and a new wave of scepticism around the value of globalisation.
One thing is clear, and that is the extent to which globalisation has helped lift many millions of people around the world out of poverty. According to the World Bank, there has been tremendous progress here. The first Millennium Development Goal target was to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015. That was achieved in 2010: five years early.
Wave of change
Between 2015 and 2050, around half the world’s population growth will take place in these nine countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States. There is enormous scope for economic growth in most of those countries too. We’ve already seen how economic development in India, China and other emerging nations has transformed the lives of millions of people.
In India, there is a real push from the government to reach out to the financially excluded and bring them into the fold. Giving people access to banking services is a great tool in the fight against poverty. And as more people start to use cashless, digital payments, the provision of those services can be done in a more efficient and cost-effective way, making it easier to turn increasing numbers of unbanked into the financially included.
From my perspective at Finablr, being aware of and in tune with the agenda of governments is important. The emerging markets are not all the same; what works in India might not work in Africa. And, of course, what works in one country or region within Africa might not in others. Having the necessary cultural awareness is important.
With both Globalisation 4.0 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the nature of work for billions of people across our world is set to change. There will be a rolling wave of disruption that calls on all of us to be agile, robust and have a flexible outlook to adapting and acquiring new skills.
But whether you’re in an emerging market or a developed one, worries that your job is being disrupted by global supply chains and technology are the same. When people fear for their economic livelihood they will, of course, adopt a negative and entrenched outlook.
Towards a positive outcome
Over time, it is likely that the current wave of pro-nationalist thinking will begin to reverse; in much the same way that markets correct in the longer term, short-term changes won’t necessarily be reflected in the overall outcome. But rather than passively wait for that to happen, we all have to involve ourselves in the solution.
Part of that will mean working to ensure a more even distribution of opportunities, not only in emerging markets, but in the developed world as well. The decline of the manufacturing industry in many western nations have hit many communities hard. The next wave of development – increased automation, the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) – could have an even greater impact.
Having the right skills to find work in this new era, the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a term coined originally by the World Economic Forum’s founder and executive chairman, Klaus Schwab – will be vital for everyone.
That calls for access to retraining for those already in the workforce and a potential change in the way workplace skills are taught at schools, colleges, and universities. That may require a change in the way education is delivered too. And this kind of training will need to be constantly available throughout people’s working lives.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be unlike anything that has come before. It will not be a step-change to a new way of doing things. It will be an era of constant change; a rolling wave that will bring new adaptations all the time as the technology underpinning AI and other key aspects continues to advance.
Beyond those hard, taught skills that enable you to perform specific tasks, succeeding in this new world will call for a flexible outlook and a mindset that welcomes change. Many people find change unsettling. So we must not overlook the importance of fostering corporate cultures that promote and support the development of an inner resilience that enables us to cope well with a constantly changing world.
If you feel you are being left behind, you may begin to lose faith in the world around you, in the systems and structures that govern the way things are. You may feel the world is made up of a small number of winners and a vast number of losers. That’s an outlook that serves to benefit no one and to counter it we must back everything up with an ongoing commitment to more – and better – communication.