What next for knowledge capital and social capital?

Sensemaking / What next for knowledge capital and social capital?

Take part in our new discussion series on the future of work

By Rodrigo Bautista / 16 Aug 2016

Last century, Ford employed at its peak over 100,000 people at the River Rouge complex and was one of the world’s top three for revenue. Today, Google (Alphabet) makes over 32 times the income Ford did back then, while employing 20,000 people at Googleplex in Mountain View.

How might we build a resilient society and an economy around it that can reduce the inequality gap? What can we learn from past examples about our expectations of companies today, and our notions of future success? How do we think beyond ‘jobs’ for people and start to think about meaningful ‘work’ for humans? What sort of assumptions might we be making about the type of work that will be valued in years to come? What are the capabilities needed to navigate a rapidly changing work landscape between now and 2100? 

Change is happening and it will impact us faster than what we expect. Only 10% of manufacturing tasks are automated worldwide, an amount likely to reach up to 45% (BCG) in 10 years for sectors such as computers & electronics, electrical equipment, machinery, and transportation equipment.

Knowledge capital and social capital look set to be the two areas most significantly affected by current changes to the global world of work, such as automation and digital innovation. They are also two fundamental pillars for a sustainable future, and so we are exploring with Forum for the Future’s Network partners how organisations and individuals can prepare for what is to come.

If you were advising someone leaving school today, what capabilities, insights and skills would you encourage them to develop, and why?

It’s a difficult question to answer without a more detailed picture of what we might expect from the future world of work. In the US, we worked with our Network members to develop four different concepts of the future of work, building on eights trends:

  • Workplace health and wellness
  • Automation
  • Gig economy
  • Multi-generational workplace
  • Diversity, inclusion and gender
  • Incentives, purpose and meaning
  • Disruption of the labor market
  • Shifting and fluid organizational shapes

We invited prominent thought leaders, including Erin Barnes, Global Head of Wellness, Bloomberg LP, the author Ashton Applewhite and James P. Clark, founder of the World Technology Network, to advance our insights during an interactive session.

We asked questions such as:

  • How might we value data, information and knowledge in an automated society?
  • How might we resource projects, learn new capabilities and skills?
  • How might we promote better health at work while working is ubiquitous?
  • How might we celebrate different cultures and a multigenerational workforce?

Now, we want to hear your insights and visions for the future.


Diversity at work

1) How might we celebrate different cultures and a multigenerational workforce?

Wellbeing at work

2) How could sharing help foster human wellbeing, inclusion and performance at work?

A Gig economy

3) What new ways can we find to resource projects, and make sure we have the right skills and capabilities?

Working with intelligent machines

4) How might we value data, information and knowledge in an automated society?


If you would like to learn more about our work in this area, please write to me at:  r.bautista@forumforthefuture.org

Rodrigo Bautista is a Principal Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future, working in the New York Office.

Tag @futurescentre to join the social media discussion.

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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