Column | Leadership

'The Times They Are A-Changin' '

Column | Leadership

'The Times They Are A-Changin' '



This Bob Dylan classic from 1964 has so many timeless themes. The opening verse ends with “If your time to you is worth savin’, then you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin.’” If that’s not relevant to our current situation, I don’t know what is.

I recently read a stimulating opinion piece in The New York Times, titled “After the pandemic, a revolution in education and work awaits” (Oct. 20, 2020). It was written by Thomas Friedman, author of the 2005 book The World Is Flat. I probably don’t have to say more for you to understand where this is going, but I wanted to touch on some points Friedman made, because they should compel each of us to sit up and take notice.

Friedman describes the post-pandemic era to be “so destructive and creative,” and he cites cheap (meaning cost, not quality) innovation tools, cheap credit and cheap computing power as the elements that may fuel a shift that forever alter business and education institutions.

Friedman notes that the Indian tech services company Infosys is a great source of insight on global employment and education trends. In fact, he opened his 2005 book with Infosys in Bangalore, back when the company’s main business was doing work U.S. companies had outsourced to India. Fifteen years later, Infosys operates out of New York City and is creating thousands of jobs in the United States. Current CEO Ravi Kumar believes workers’ skills are becoming obsolete faster, an opinion shared by Heather McGowan, co-author of The Adaptation Advantage, who says children today will change jobs and professions many times in their career. McGowan believes we will be in a “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn” pattern and that “learning is the new pension.”

Work is increasingly becoming modular, according to Friedman. Companies won’t own the majority of their work output as work gets disconnected from companies, and workers from each other. Infosys sees an opportunity to help U.S. companies reskill their workforces and create new learning paths, shifting away from getting a degree to focusing on learning and adapting. That’s why Infosys is building a 100-acre campus in Indianapolis to create that learning environment. They are looking for people to hire, not by degree but by ability and competency. Problem-solvers will always be needed, but the new sought-out skill is “problem-finders,” said Kumar.

The world is definitely a-changin’. Don’t miss it.

We are now post-election and mid-pandemic. It’s going to be a challenging winter and spring, but sunshine is coming! Stay strong. Be a leader. And be a source of hope and joy for others. Happy Holidays! 2021 is around the corner! 

About the Author

Michael M. Allen, FHFMA, CPA,

is CFO, OSF Healthcare System, Peoria, Ill., and 2020-21 Chair of HFMA.

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