Rather than wringing our hands about robots taking over the world, smart organizations will embrace strategic automation use cases. Strategic decisions will be based on how the technology will free up time to do the types of tasks that humans are uniquely positioned to perform,” says Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, a financial services company.

This is the sentiment a lot of industries are wanting to embrace, as automation and technology are bringing up ample insecurity about human skills/ jobs getting redundant. In light of that threat, what are the skills that cannot be automated? What can you learn today, so you can have a job in the future? Here are some ideas:

Mentoring or teaching. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and e-learning make it possible to learn new skills on the internet. But this doesn’t translate into workplace productivity. Nor does it make mentoring extinct. Why? You may have hired someone who looked good on paper but hasn’t produced the expected results. Or someone might be performing well at the moment, but they don’t have what’s needed for a promotion. In both cases, automated learning will not help, because technology cannot identify the exact gap. Only people can. So, start with your people, and work personally to fill those gaps.

Ethics and value judgement. Take driverless cars. In a traffic situation, how successful do you think a bot would be, if it had to make a split-second decision between hitting a school bus full of kids, or saving its passengers? No matter the finesse of algorithms, the bot’s ability to assess options and make a valuable decision is limited. Similarly, in workplaces, in pursuit of productivity and optimization, we undermine human needs, emotional states, and life changes. The more technology takes over our work, the more human intervention we need to understand and discern what is important, what is of value, and make ethical, humane decisions.

Communication. A lot of our communication today is digital. Add to it auto-suggestions, auto-correct etc., and the effort of crafting a message is lighter. But that’s where the clincher is. Good communication is about getting people’s attention and moving them into action. Particularly in the age of automation, where we need to constantly connect with deeper human needs. The best way to do this is through storytelling. Not just listing facts on PowerPoint or creating robot authors/ chatbots. The ability to appeal to human emotion, reflect on past experience, and draw up a vision to motivate people, rests with people.

Remember, if we really unleash our abilities, we could remain a step ahead of automation. We create that smart technology, after all. What else would you add to this list?

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