Alibaba’s Jack Ma: In the next 30 years people will work 4 hours a day

Jack Ma says the next 30 years are going to be painful. Machines will be smarter than humans. That might be true, but they’re not wiser.

I’m concerned that we still focus on smarts when we develop people – kids and adults – and not on wisdom (or vertical development). Think of people as smartphones: You can keep adding Apps to make your phone smarter, but you’ve also got to upgrade the operating system to keep your phone smart. At school, university and work we’re obsessed with adding competencies and tools… things machines can do. Wisdom is about updating or changing mindsets and mental models so people aren’t ‘in over their heads’.

We’re not wild about developing wisdom because:

  1. It takes time and we prefer speed and instant gratification
  2. It’s harder to measure and if we can’t measure it’s impact we might not get that annual performance bonus… we’re mad about short-term measures of success
  3. We want safe, predicable and certain, but these don’t develop wisdom. Discomfort, failure, risk, letting go of safety develop wisdom and we’re all about minimising these things… we just love the happy-face indicator
  4. We like sameness, but it’s disagreement and colliding perspectives that make us wise, especially when we learn to let go of polarised or black and white thinking
  5. We value answers more than we value questions and it’s questions that enable elevated sensemaking

I’m wild about my clients getting both smarter and wiser, but many of them shy away from the process of building wisdom. What will you do?

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