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In our recent book The Future Reinvented, we are argued that, in the face of seemingly unprecedented change across society, learning at every level is central to survival and growth.

Here we explore five underlying forces at play that are placing learning and development (L&D) at the heart of tomorrow’s organizations.

1. A Faster Planet

The world is moving and changing at a breakneck pace. Organizations are challenged to make sense of today whilst keeping an eye on the horizon for the next wave of transformative developments. For leaders, it is increasingly apparent that survival depends on the ability to make sense of change, unlearn what no longer serves, and acquire new knowledge and insights.

2. Living the Future

Societal shifts, disruptive thinking, and game changing technologies are shortening the gap between concept emergence and translation into a physical reality. Hence, the growing emphasis on acting faster on insights and reducing the time to ‘sell’ a change internally – because people can see for themselves why it’s needed. The implication is that everyone needs to learn to understand how to scan and evaluate signals of impending change around them and on the horizon. From changing customer requirements to futures videos – all provide powerful learning about tomorrow.

3. Digital Mindsets

Entities are being redesigned around data flows and adopting increasingly digital mindsets – using data to underpin decision making. Whilst intuition, assumptions, and creativity are important, there’s growing emphasis on fact and results based decision making. Adopting more systematic problem solving using the scientific method requires a different training approach. Individuals must learn how to approach data, make evidence based decisions, and draw conclusions using repeatable methods. They also need to learn to make decisions when the data is imperfect or unavailable.

4. New World Literacy

A wide range of exponentially evolving technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are creeping into workplaces, enabling radically different ways of thinking about how things work and how to achieve outcomes. For example, driverless cars will overturn long held assumptions regarding insurance and vehicle ownership. Hence a key challenge is to accelerate the speed at which leaders and managers are learning about, and updating themselves on, these disruptive technologies and the ideas they enable.

5. Smarter Workplaces

Exponentially improving technologies such as AI and robotics are starting to transform workplaces, outperforming humans in many tasks. They are also expanding our capacity to process and interpret vast arrays of data, conduct complex activities with repeatable precision, and automate much of what was exclusively in the human domain. Learning about how to work with these technologies and harness them to unleash our creative talents is central to ensuring organizations see a positive return on their automation investments.

Future performance will undoubtedly be tied to an organization’s capacity to learn. The question is whether today’s L&D professionals are ready to step into the immense opportunities that are emerging and play a central role in creating tomorrow.

About the authors

The authors are futurists with Fast Future – a professional foresight firm specializing in delivering keynote speeches, executive education, research, and consulting on the emerging future and the impacts of change for global clients. Fast Future publishes books from leading future thinkers around the world, exploring how developments such as AI, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, societies, businesses, and governments and create the trillion-dollar sectors of the future. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. See:

Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, award-winning keynote speaker, author, and the CEO of Fast Future. His prime focus is on helping clients understand the emerging future and shape strategic responses that put people at the center of the agenda. Rohit is the co-author of Designing Your Future, lead editor and a contributing author for The Future of Business, and editor of Technology vs. Humanity. He is a co-editor and contributor for the recently published Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity and The Future Reinvented – Reimagining Life, Society, and Business, and two forthcoming books – Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business, and 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.

Helena Calle is a researcher at Fast Future. She is a recent graduate from the MSc. program in Educational Neuroscience at Birkbeck, University of London, and has eight years of international experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, pedagogic coordinator, and education consultant. Helena coordinates Fast Futures’ growing research on the future of learning.