I was listening to the radio this morning when a soundbite caught my attention - a business expert talking about "intangible assets." I've been using this phrase in my leadership training for years, so I tuned in keenly.
1. Businesses are valued differently
New research suggests that from now on, business growth will be driven by different stuff. Non-physical things like data, brand, reputation, strategy and content.
The logic is pretty clear - while any business can get their hands on the same plant or equipment, they can't all deploy it in the same way.
Intangible assets, while a bit unknown and scary, have some real advantages: there's no limit on growth, they're easier to scale, and they're far more flexible than buildings and machines.
This will be a scary shift for some companies. Just as the pandemic has shown us - it's only the most adaptive organisations that do well in disruption. Others panic, and many fail.
2. People are valued differently
The same is true for us. In the knowledge economy, as we wade through an uncertain transition toward automation and artificial intelligence, how we do things is far more important than what we do and what we know.
This is the way of the strategist, and what we teach in Not An MBA. There, we turn the traditional paradigm for education and leadership on its head. While our value in the job market may once have been in accumulating knowledge and having unique technical skills, the pendulum has swung well in the other direction.
The UN Future of Jobs research supports this - the most in-demand (and missing!) skills are clear: critical thinking, problem-solving, and flexibility.
3. Know your value
Think about the skills you draw on most, and which really make you valuable. Maybe it's your people skills, drawn from your time in sales. Maybe it's your resilience, after a big move in your teens. Maybe it's your strategic outlook, or your knack for problem-solving. It's unlikely to be your Word 95 competency or Anthropology degree.
Then, think about what it might take to get to the next step - when the methodology you're using goes out of favour, or large parts of your work become an algorithm... where will you add the most value?
Importantly: how can you build that now? (Check out the resources below for a good start)
TL;DR It's time to stop accumulating knowledge, and start building the skills that will really set you up for the future.