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  • Writer's pictureBabis Michailidis

The Art of Foresight in Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs

Abstract – Summary:

Acquiring pure fact-based knowledge is no longer sufficient when it comes to dealing with increasingly complex realities in the machine age, such as the degrowth economy, climate change and global health crises. 21st century professionals, who want to interact with the world in a constructive way need to cultivate human capabilities, develop relevant practical skills and acquire relational knowledge, which implies that they can apply factual knowledge in diverse contexts so as to solve complex problems. The present Insight Report aims to highlight the Role of Poetry in supporting every professional across cultural, hierarchical and disciplinary boundaries in developing future skills.

The Ever-Changing Nature of Work – Disruption Lessons from history

Over time, the human race has passed through several distinct Ages. Transitions from one economic Age to another send great disruption lessons through nearly all aspects of economic life. The skills, talents and characteristics that have dominated at successive stages of economic evolution provide a good example. In the Agrarian Age, the great bulk of the labor force used muscle power. The Industrial Age turned farmers into factory workers. Information Age computers grew cheaper and more powerful and they proved better than humans at guiding the repetitive motions of the assembly line. The economy’s ballast swung toward higher-order mental activities.

How Technology is Leading Humans into the Imagination Age - The Rise of the Imagination Worker

In the Imagination Age, work will evolve yet again, pushing to the fore the more advanced human attributes—those still beyond the scope of modern machines. Today, computers are able to do more of the thinking. IBM’s Watson is co-writing pop hits, Uber is deploying self-driving cars, and Amazon is delivering packages by drone. As workers offload more tasks to computers, it raises questions: What role will people play in the future of work? What work is uniquely human? From hands to heads, the next revolution will see work shift to our heartsour ability to dream, express passion, and go beyond mere rational thinking. Unlike Artificial Intelligence and other technology, people possess a faculty computers cannot match: the power to imagine new possibilities and then act on them. Our unique ability is imagination.

From R&D to leadership to marketing and sales to product management: teams of all types need Imagination Workers. It takes people from all sorts of backgrounds to turn ideas into realities. Critically, imagination work is not limited to a small group of creatives. The opposite is true. Imagination acknowledges that “aha moments” come from everybody. Everyone can—and must—use imagination to make innovation a part of their daily work.

The Imagination Gap

However, even as the challenges and opportunities are greater than ever, we find ourselves using and applying our imagination less and less. There is a gap between what we think about, the kind of impact we try to have, and what we could conceivably achieve. We have an imagination gap. We are not going to get to have the kind of impact that is possible until we close that gap.

Addressing the Imagination Gap: Why Professionals need to read and analyze Poetry to lead in the Imagination Economy.

Professionals in every domain of economy will need to be resilient, open-minded, and creative. In other words, they are being called on to engage in a new and extremely challenging way of thinking—to develop answers for an unknown and brutally complex future. We can think of no better tool for this important mindset shift, than poetry. Poetry requires of its readers a different way of thinking, more expansive than usual, more flexible, more nuanced; a way to tune in to undercurrents, accept ambiguity and the absence of answers—embrace lack of closure and relish complexity and uncertainty. A poem does not have one meaning, but many meanings, all in play simultaneously. It is therefore open to many—often conflicting—interpretations.

Case 1: Indicative analysis of “Thermopylae” by Cavafy

”Thermopylae” is about courage and honor, exhibited in one of the greatest stories ever told. It validates those who fought heroically to the end, even knowing that they were doomed. Theirs is a unique sense of honor. “Thermopylae” defines the heroic life and is metaphorically linked to that which brings meaning and depth to leaders’ lives. Living the heroic life thus becomes a leadership guide. What is your Thermopylae? How do you define it? In its brevity, it reminds leaders to stick to their guns and live a life that is meaningful and principled.

Case 2: Indicative analysis of “The God Abandons Antony” by Cavafy

Cavafy's poem, even though it refers to Antonio, actually has a much wider application and is essentially addressed to every human being. Antonio, in other words, symbolizes every person who, having fought in his life to achieve his goals and dreams, at some point comes face to face with the loss of all of them. That is when, according to the poet, he should show all his mental strength, facing the loss with dignity and without crying and pleading.


Poetry is a strong emotional driver, but not all of us are poets. That is why we connect with poems that resonate with our own world view. They then become personal anthems and inspire our personal and professional journeys.


Thank you!


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