A Small Contribution to the Human Resources Summit with Future Skills


Perttu Polonen: The most important values of the future are compassion and honesty, which are learned in the family!     

On September 28, Harvard Business Review Turkey held the New Perspectives in Human Resources Summit. The number of speakers was quite immense and every aspect of the changes in human resource management were discussed. I listened to some speeches, but did not have time to watch all of them, later my colleagues provided me with a summary of the talks and kept me informed. I will not summarize all the conversations for you. Talks were given about the change in Human Resources with theoretical dimensions. Most of the speakers talked about what they are doing in terms of HR during the pandemic and right now. I think most HRs were similar to one another. That’s why I’m going to examine all the talks under a general framework and then talk about Perttu Polonen’s recently released book, Future Skills.

What was discussed at the summit? Working from home, increasing concerns from the pandemic, reorganizing the workplace for those who have to work, the physical and mental health of employees, employee well-being, as well as managing employee anxiety were discussed. It was said that it is very important for employees to feel safe and that they have felt safer when clear information has been given to them during this period. It was emphasized that companies that take care of the health of their employees and the well-being of the society gained significant assets in 2021. After this change, companies have to be more flexible, more agile and lean. It is important to give meaning to employees while doing their jobs. HR managers have become the CEOs’ right-hand men, and CEOs can become HR managers in the future. It was emphasized that people with superior talents and skills will be needed more in the future. 

The research “Global 2021 Creating People Advantage” was mentioned. According to this immense research, the areas with the most competence globally are as follows: 1. Change management, 2. Talent management, 3. Leadership management, 4. Culture and purpose activation.

Here are some details from the HBR Human Resources Summit:

• For the world of the future, it is necessary to encourage working from home. In this way, more talented employees can be recruited without geographical restrictions. 25% physical 75% remote work per month is one of the most convenient ways. I call it on-location work, because wherever the work is, the work will be there. If your job is a production process, you should be in charge, if it is sales or shipment, you should be on the job in the field.

• In order to keep up with change, it is very important for companies to increase the personal awareness of their employees, to establish the necessary systems for acquiring knowledge and using it at work, to retrain their employees (reskill) and gain new skills (upskill) according to the skills of the future. It is necessary to adapt the corporate culture to the new period, change the leadership and job descriptions, and create change management according to the DNA of the company. The largest but easy change here will be to define OKRs as well as APGs for each task. In other words, for remote (local) work, it is necessary to describe the success and achievements in all tasks.   

• Managers are now forced to approach HR issues differently. The main topics required for this are: Inclusivity, empathy, flexibility, open communication, holistic health (wellbeing)

• It is important for new employees to be oriented, work with the appointed mentor, and adapt to the hybrid model after gaining experience in the office.

• Machine Learning and Algorithm cannot answer these questions: Why did I fall short? How can I improve when I’m missing? 

• Digital learning, continuous learning should be adopted. The idea that the company should train us is wrong. But of course, HR can also provide opportunities for digital employees. For example, the system provides a chat environment by meeting me with an employee by chance every Friday afternoon. While this is an exciting opportunity, it also provides us with socialization and its benefits.

• Data and analytics-based human resources management is fairer and healthier.

• Creating sustainable values ​​is only possible with employee quality and ability.

• There are 2 ways to acquire talents: 1.Future Focused Development Programs 2.Creating the Required Culture to Attract Potential Talents to the Company. As Yıldız Holding, we offer the necessary skills and training for new professions to everyone with equal opportunity as the Digital Academy. 

• It is a must for HR Leaders to be able to think strategically and analytically as well as their emotional intelligence. But you will appreciate that this is based on genes and the first years of upbringing in the family. But people who have or are predisposed to it can be trained further.

• HR has now evolved into developing existing employees, recruiting the right person for the right job, and promoting innovation. HR analytics is very important now.

• Working independently of geography gives companies access to a large talent pool. But of course, you should know the interview procedures and principles in every culture.

• In addition, active learning, analytical understanding, innovation, the ability to benefit from technology, creativity, resilience, stress management, fast adaptation, tolerance and taking initiative will be the most important skills of the future. I hope families take care of it when raising children and it becomes epigenetic.

As I understand it, everyone now says similar things but that are very different things than before. We are now acting with a more up-to-date and new generation in mind.

It is at this moment, I call to attention to Perttu Polonen’s ‘Future Skills’ book. The shining star of the new generation, this TED speaker is only 26 years old and has received the Future Technologies Education at NASA Singularity University; won the first place among youth in the science competition, the largest competition of the European Union, and is one of 35 innovative people under 35 years old in Europe in 2018 selected by MIT.  Perttu Polonen drew attention in his TED talk and his small volume book is possible to read in a short amount of time; Polonen’s book needed to be mentioned when it comes to the subject of future skills at the HR summit. Because isn’t it interesting that a young genius utters opinions that agree with my generation? This means that we met in a reasonable place in the light of facts on both sides.

Why are some people smarter than others? Perttu Polonen begins his book by asking this; those who think deeply, not those who are fast, are smarter, he says. He says the future will belong to those who can predict the next move of their opponent and plan their own move accordingly, that is, those who think more deeply. Then, he summarizes the values ​​and skills of the future in 13 titles as follows: 

1) Technology and the Future:

“Information is one of the values ​​we can have in order to easily adopt technological developments and not be afraid of the uncertainty it creates,” he says. If we lack knowledge, we are afraid, sometimes we take sides because of our fear. However, technology is inherently neutral. It cannot be classified as good or bad. The moral of the technology or the tool determines the person using it and the way it is used. He says that the mentality of the people who hold the power to use the machine and the masses who interpret the outputs of this power are mostly stuck in their own time, which can have dangerous consequences. “This is why one of the important skills of the future is to have a broad and innovative perspective.” Don’t let anyone define you as conservative. Although the beginnings of new ideas are sometimes silent, they will come with a thump at the end, just as the ideas they replace were once popular.

2) Curiosity and Experience:

The world needs those who dare to ask questions! Considering that even today, vaccines are met with such reactions and fear, the first vaccine that Edward Jenner found in 1796 would have seemed “crazy” to the people of that time. The main reason for all the lives saved in the 225 years since then is a crazy question asked: “Can I protect a person from this germ by intentionally infecting him?” While ideas can exist on their own, questions always wait to be answered. So it’s the questions asked, not the ideas, that make progress. The power to ask questions is curiosity. Even if you don’t like it, follow the answers to the questions.

3) Creativity and Improvisation:

The basic point of creativity; connecting things that are related or unrelated to each other. It is real creativity that Anke Domaske produces fabric named QMilch from milk. Creativity does not flourish in a culture based on right or wrong. Mistakes can and should be made in the creative process. Just like jurisprudence. No phenomenon develops spontaneously. Mistakes are like the shoes we wear on the rocky road towards truth. When it comes to creating, there are two types; It is only possible for God to create something out of nothing, and what we do, we create things that actually exist or can exist that wink at us from their corners. Of course, we don’t create something out of nothing. 

4) Problem Solving and Adaptation:    

What will change can sometimes be a simple screw, sometimes it is a non-functioning organ that does not fulfill its function that needs to be changed, and sometimes a mindset. Change cannot happen on its own, it needs companions. Because of this structure, a problem solving skill is the basis of adapting to change or what is required in order to change. In this context, being able to see the problem from different angles constitutes the features of the problem, you will have many different perspectives to change it. In this context, the talents of the future do not have the luxury of neglecting any field or falling behind. There are many different occupational groups. Each professional group tries to find solutions by looking at the problems from their own perspective. For example, when an experienced autopsy specialist who retired last week sees an inactive person on the ground, the approach of an emergency nurse who retired in the same week to the problem will be very different. Future problem solvers need to be able to think from many different perspectives. To understand a person, we need to know what they want to do in the future, not what they have done in the past. 

5) Passion and Character:

Is the main job of a teacher to convey knowledge? No. Generations growing up with the Internet, which contains more information than any human’s brain can carry, need experience rather than knowledge. Experiences are one of the main factors in the formation of character, which needs various stages for its development. This rote learning explains the difference between teaching and education. There is no shortcut to developing character or discovering passions. Character needs constant development and passions need to be renewed at various stages of life. The discovery of one’s own character is through the answer to a fundamental question. Who am I and why am I here? But now change has also become an important feature of the character.

Polonen: Our characters and passions separate us from machines. The machine does the work because it has to, it is cold. We enjoy what we do with passion. In the future, the passionate will win.

6) Communication and Narration (Telling):

Polonen poses a very important question at this point: What can you give me that is not available on the Internet? He says that a person who is confronted with this question feels worthless. The internet has everything. This is where awareness and depth come into play. Being able to understand beyond what is written and said, to be able to read between the lines! People (customer/consumer) often mean something else or even beyond what they say. For this, the ability to communicate and narrate what you understand in a way that will benefit the other will be an important skill that will bring success in the future.

7) Thinking and Interpreting Critically:

The purpose of the Internet is not to educate us, but to satisfy. Algorithms support this. What we need to do in such an environment is to adopt critical thinking. This mindset develops self-confidence and enables us to interpret information. That’s why we should know that in the distorting internet world built on “satisfaction”, information must be obtained and verified from many different sources. In other words, we must keep our desire and curiosity alive to reach the truth without being caught in the information, offers, and communication offered by algorithms in order to manage our perception or to overwhelm us with the pleasure of satisfaction. How much do the comments distort the truth? Being aware and interpreting are two different things. The highest level of intelligence is the ability to observe something without evaluation. I hope that researching and learning from the internet, and using social media are included in the education and learning in schools. 

8) Entrepreneurship and Teamwork:

Polonen says that in the future each of us will have to be a bit of an entrepreneur. Because entrepreneurship is a subject rather than an identity. Entrepreneurship is the completion of problem detection, planning, and implementation. According to Polonen, an entrepreneurial character is required in order to be able to continue on the road without giving up in the face of seemingly extremely difficult negativities. He emphasizes that the most courageous and entrepreneurial decisions will be made when you have nothing left to lose. An application requires: passion and character. Criticisms that will be encountered during the process should not reduce motivation, but instead open the way. For this reason, a problem-oriented approach is necessary, not the result-oriented approach of the right/wrong thinking system, as stated before. Criticisms deepen the problem in our minds and put the missing parts in place. The person who gains this mindset understands that it is not right to be disappointed and continues along on their way. What it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit is to act passionately, yet be able to criticize even oneself. What it does not mean is that everyone should be an entrepreneur in business life!         

9) Perseverance and Patience:

Modern life and patience are fighting each other hard, says the young guru. He emphasizes the importance of time: “Let’s look at the most important people today, they all buy other people’s time, right? We are now used to having our orders delivered on the same day or even within the same hour. We can’t stand the restaurant that delays the average delivery time by 5 minutes, and it is highly likely that the courier of that restaurant will not want to wait for us for an extra 5 minutes. We cannot tolerate the slowdown of the internet at work. It is extremely important to differentiate the depth from it in the face of the speed variable. Learning to be patient takes depth. One of the first conditions of learning is patience. But you can’t be patient with everything like that, there is no depth to be patient with the slowdown of the internet at work. To be patient is not to endure what happens, but to persevere and resist with perseverance and passion. We need to know which side of the line to stand on. What we forget or lose when we decide to give up on a job is the reason that started us on that job, motivation. Here, the author states that instead of the education system’s curriculum that shows the truth or the wrong, the measure that will be given to us to distinguish right from wrong will provide us with the strength of resistance we need to achieve our goals. When we look at today, almost all successful people are determined people. The reason for this is that they can destroy the thick walls of the education system they were born into by thinking critically. One of the important skills of the future is the passionate resistance you pursue in life with the outcome in mind.     

10) Health and Self-Knowledge:

Maintaining your health is a must, even if it is difficult. A person who does not have the will to live and does not love himself cannot achieve anything. People with high social anxiety cannot talk without thinking. Therefore, health and self-knowledge are the most important values ​​that a person can have. A doctor can fix physical ailments, but it is the individual who will reveal mental problems in the first step. You must know yourself. We tend to compare ourselves to others because that is how we are taught. This is an unhealthy thought. We need to encourage our children not to compete, but to originality and uniqueness. It is necessary to study have different perspectives, to learn the main information and root causes. In this way, we take the right example for us. In order to determine the right one, you must first know yourself. The author says we should adopt critical thinking to criticize ourselves.

Shedding its leaves does not kill the plant. It keeps it alive.

11) Compassion and Honesty:

We will need compassion and honesty more than ever, says Polonen. He attributes this to our obligation to preserve our values, which will remind us that we are human, in the face of machine algorithms. Lying is the biggest theft, stealing the truth. He changes it for his own benefit. Isn’t it merciless to steal the truth?   

A machine or algorithm cannot be merciful, and honesty is a necessary truth for a machine, says the author, and therefore only humans can possess the values ​​of the future he describes in the book: Human values need to be protected and preserved. Honesty will foster compassion, and compassion will feed and nurture honesty. Meeting the right people also plays an important role in the development of these values. However, we need to be careful with charlatans who want to exploit our compassion under the title of empathy. Reinforcing the seeds of compassion and honesty in the family in social environments, to be internalized by the individual.     

12) Moral Courage and Ethics: 

Moral courage is a necessary skill to improve the world. It makes us dare to do the right thing. A person who adopts moral values ​​as a guide has the courage to speak without fear. This courage can sometimes be limited by the ideologies stuck in or by the sanctions of the dominant powers. Even if the morally courageous man cannot speak now, he will leave behind an heir who will speak out. A person’s life is too short to solve some problems, but the ability to think ethically is one of the most important skills that will save the world. Today, moral courage is the same as ethical thinking, Polonen says. Decisions that affect millions cannot be left to the few who speak behind closed doors. It is precisely for this reason that decisions that will ease the burden of the world trying to transport 7,780,000,000 people and 195 sovereign states should be made primarily by people who take ethical concerns into account. The change needed for this happens when people who are not responsible for the problem take a step towards solving the problem. People who can bravely defend unwritten rules without being crushed under bigotry, open to change, will have one of the important skills of the future.

13) Punishment Study, Love:

Yes, we will learn about love too. Because only love makes us better people. Educating our hearts will be one of the most important skills of the future. Educated hearts can feel love, love. We summarize this by saying that we love the created because of the creator.

When Nothing is Certain, Anything Is Possible!

Curiosity, creativity, character, patience, critical thinking, ethics, trainable hearts and depth as I explained above. These are the skills that the author thinks will be important in the world of the future. Perttu Polonen states that the skills that will warm us up and make us feel in the cold world of machines and algorithms will be extremely important. We need dialogue between generations. It is really significant for a 26-year-old guru to highlight this. As the wheels of fortune keep turning, the wishes and needs of the young will soon guide the development of the industries. We need young people here who really know what they want. What we can do is to encourage the proper use of technology. Whatever we do, we must do it for humanity. We must not forget to train the hearts of the youth so that they focus on the correct values ​​in their learning and become deeper individuals. Only then can they overcome their fears and dive into the unknown and achieve dreamlike results using technology.

I wanted to make a small contribution to HBR’s human resources summit with Polonen’s book. I have added my own experiences and ideas in between. Forgive me.

Note: This article is open source and can be cited by mentioning the author. Does not require copyright.