Where would we be without maps? The frank answer to that question is that we probably wouldn’t know!
Yes, maps are wonderful aids to help us find where we are, and to help us find where we want to go by giving us an idea of direction and destination.
Maps mean different things to different people. While older people (over 35) will be familiar with map books, Millennials could be forgiven for not ever having used paper-based map books or paper maps that get spread out on a table. They would immediately think you’re talking about something like Google Maps.
But Google Maps has the paper-based maps to thank for its existence as Google maps is simply an online version of the paper-based maps.
Our paper-based maps exist because centuries ago brave people ventured into unknown territory to map it out in order that it may be unknown no more. And ever since then, maps have become increasingly accurate and detailed so that we needn’t feel lost any more.
Even though the territory may be unfamiliar to us, by using a map, we can still find our way to where we want to be.
Before maps were drawn up, there were many misconceptions about what lay “out there” – in the uncharted waters and uncharted lands. People could only guess. And, left to their own imagination, they guessed that there were some pretty frightening things waiting out there for them.
A case in point was the belief of inhabitants in the northern hemisphere that the world ended at the equator. They believed that, if you sailed too close to the edge, you would fall over the edge and be lost for ever. As they sailed closer to the equator, the temperature naturally became warmer. Because of their lack of knowledge, their imagination filled in the gaps and caused them to assume that there were dragons living just over the edge of the earth waiting to eat those who dared to sail too close. The heat, they reasoned, was caused by the breath of the dragons. Probably, if they listened carefully enough, they would have heard the dragons breathing …
I mention the above for a few reasons. One is to point out how the assumptions they made, which probably seemed perfectly reasonable to them at the time, are quite amusing to those of us who were fortunate enough to be born in a time and place where all the world’s territories had already been mapped out – thanks to those brave people who ventured into the unknown of their day.
It took them great courage to venture further and further towards what they believed was the end of the earth – and almost certain death – to discover that there was no such “end of the earth” and no dragons!
Before you think how silly those explorers were for braving the dragons, think about the new uncharted, unmapped territories facing us now. The world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics is now the unmapped territory we all face, and many people are already seeing “dragons” in those strange territories.
Are you ready to venture into these largely unmapped worlds? It requires courage, and if you’re afraid of the dragons you might encounter, you’re going to die in the desert of lands that will no longer provide work for people like you.
Are you preventing your company from moving off the map because you’re afraid of the dragons? Companies which have blocked online access to FaceBook and Twitter and such like tools are seeing them as the dragons living in the uncharted worlds, waiting to eat up time and productivity, but they’re going to pay the price for the folly of their misguided imaginations. Social networking technology is fast becoming a very powerful business tool for attracting, retaining, and communicating with Generations X and Y, for interacting with customers and markets, as well as acquiring information previously unobtainable.
Are you hiding from the dragons of AI, Machine Learning and Robotics because you’re afraid of what they might do to you?
All of us have to take our courage in both hands to venture off the map into uncharted territory and face whatever dragons are out there. Some HR Professionals are too scared to face what they see as the dragons of technology. As people-centric professionals, they have a natural reluctance to embrace technology. If you’re technologically illiterate, you’re as bad as someone who is illiterate in terms of reading and writing.
Your future depends on venturing into the unmapped territories. Work in the old familiar already mapped out territories will become harder to find, more expensive to perform and less rewarding. That’s why we all have to be prepared to face the dragons in the uncharted territories of the future …
Be bold. Be brave. Move off the map what ever that may mean in your work and life.
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches business leaders and managers of all generations how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the "Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter".