The three Back to the Future movies are ranked among the best-known time travel stories. They center around a teenager, Marty McFly and scientist/inventor Doc Brown and his time-defying DeLorean sports car.
While revisiting history is easy, predicting the unknowns of the future is always a captivating theme.
In Back to the Future II (1989), the hero, Marty, lived in 1985. With the help of Doc Brown, he flew 30 years ahead in time to 21 October 2015.
Many of the movie’s “seemingly far-out predictions have come eerily close to hitting the mark. It might have seemed nuts at the time of the film's release to imagine opening doors and paying bills with a thumbprint, for example, but it's perfectly in line with current iPhone technology. The same goes for video chats, a standard feature on any phone or computer, and "video glasses," which are some combination of virtual reality and Google Glass.” 1
With technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, instructional designers are in a position somewhat similar to Doc Brown. You must “invent” time machines aka training that will propel employees into the future and equip them to thrive in the working landscape of the future.
How do you bridge the realities of then and now, without a fantasy time-machine?
“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” – Doc Brown, Back to the Future
The movie got that bit wrong, but the information highway today is lightning fast. Self-drive cars are a reality. Technology like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented reality and virtual reality is here. Yet surveys report that only 41% of employers are future-proofing their workforce. 2
A successful business needs a digital-savvy workforce, equipped with competence and flexibility to embrace challenges and change.
Feon Ang, LinkedIn’s vice president for talent and learning solutions in Asia Pacific proclaimed:
“It’s important for companies to continue to invest in their people so that they are upskilling and reskilling their people to keep up with the roles that are in demand.
“But, at the same time, people need to continue to invest in themselves and have a growth mind set.” 3
The only way to prepare employees for the unpredictable future, is to encourage this growth mind set.
When employees embrace life-long learning, they will be more adaptable to the ever-changing workplace environment. They will be less risk averse and more confident to grow into new roles and positions.
To paraphrase Alvin Toffler4:
The unemployable of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
Skills that future-proofed employees must develop are critical thinking, reasoning, innovative problem-solving, inter-relationship skills, leadership and communication skills, collaboration, creativity, curiosity, information management, digital savvy and adaptability.
While technology is improving the way workplace training is delivered, the way humans learn best continues to be the way they have always learned – through storytelling and interactive experiences.
In the context of training, a story is a work place scenario in which you learner becomes the hero who makes the right decisions and accomplishes the required task. You can harness the power of innovative technology to build these scenarios to future-proof your employees.