The Future of Work Requires Associations to Lead

Most forward-thinking people have their eye on the future of work with some apprehension as we brace for increased complexity, automation, artificial intelligence, and new forms of work. In fact, ASAE ForesightWorks research identified at least six drivers of change explicitly exploring the future of work and several others that illustrate how associations might lead this future.

This is why a McKinsey Quarterly article entitled “Getting ready for the future of work” caught my eye. McKinsey shared insights from a gathering of thought leaders to assess the state of the workplace and explore potential solutions.

Signature i and the Foresight Alliance identified 41 drivers of change for the ASAE Foundation’s new foresight research initiative.  A key step in our methodology was having association executives analyze what these changes mean for associations. Our volunteer analysts would be nodding their heads in agreement with many observations cited in this McKinsey article.

To the higher ed thought leader who called for institutions to support lifelong learning, our association executives would say this is a job for associations. They are better equipped to answer the challenge than universities if we consider the trends we discussed in the driver of change, Higher Education 3.0.  

This article suggests a number of novel ways to infuse learning into the work experience. The ASAE ForesightWorks change drivers on Microlearning, Virtualized Meetings and Mentoring 2.0 offer additional guidance on how associations could meet this need. And our analysts would agree that associations need to address the underinvestment now made in educating and training older employees. As we explored in our driver of change, Aging World, many boomers plan to work longer and need to stay employable.

McKinsey quotes Bror Saxberg, vice president of learning science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, saying: “A lot of work that will continue to be of high value for people to do is tied to meaning making with other people. How does this decision, product, or service affect your life, your challenges, your family?”

Brilliant observation. Our analysts found the same insight studying the driver of change, More Human Humans. And the thought leader who said we need to start thinking of artificial intelligence as a team member is right in sync with the opportunities associations might have as they address the driver of change, Human-Machine Cooperation.

We also found in the ForesightWorks research that associations can take the lead in preparing members for Work Redefined, especially new roles and career pathways, take advantage of New Forms of Work to achieve an association’s goals, and by Automating Work operate more efficiently.

The ForesightWorks change drivers and related resources designed to help associations address the future of work and other future challenges will be available in early 2018. A few initial drivers of change (Anticipatory Intelligence, Aging World, and Virtualized Meetings) are now available as examples of the research the ASAE Foundation is preparing to help associations create a culture of foresight.