Conversations Worth Having About the 4th Industrial Revolution

Nov 10, 2019
Headlines like “Robot automations will take 800 million jobs by 2030” can trigger panic, especially if you’re among the groups that they say are at greatest risk of being automated. Before we panic, let’s remember what we have been through in the past...

Headlines like “Robot automations will take 800 million jobs by 2030” can trigger panic, especially if you’re among the groups that they say are at greatest risk of being automated. Yang, the founder of Venture for America, says this and climate change are the most important issues of our time. Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum, has coined what is happening in our economic system as the 4th Industrial Revolution. This is a “technological revolution . . . that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

History Might Inspire Us

Before we panic, let’s remember we’ve been through industrial revolutions in the past. Each one brought a new economic model; we need to be exploring economic models that support our transition and success as we move forward. This video inspires us to think differently, to think about how this revolution actually moves us into a more equitable society.

Where and how might we begin igniting conversations that will enable us to transform ourselves, our relationships, and our communities to keep pace with this revolution?  Here are a few examples some of the questions people are exploring:

  • How to use technology to add quality to quantity?
  • How might using technology to reduce costs on our most basic needs?
  • How might this revolution redefine work and redistribute wealth?
  • How do we inspire people to think freely, creatively, divergently?
  • How do we transform education to support this industrial evolution?
  • How might digital technology allow us to create equitable growth?
  • How can we use technology to make inequalities highly visible and less acceptable?
  • How can technology help us adapt at every level of society?

Where Is Your Business?

Is your organization primed for major transformation over the next ten years? If you’re in transportation, machine operation, food industry, real estate, or accounting, the answer is ‘yes’. If it can be automated, it will be. Professions that require human interaction and connection (like healthcare workers, lawyers, teachers) will be less prone to automation, but the way in which services are delivered and supported are sure to be affected. If your business or profession is bound for the revolution, how might you and your colleagues help create a viable way forward by having important conversations now? For example:

  • How might technology make your organization more efficient and effective, reducing costs while increasing quality?
  • How might the cost savings be used to support employees in becoming of even more value: training, innovation, etc.?
  • What else might the company do to deliver on its mission and vision and how can employees freed by technology support growth?
  • How might technology change your business model?

We’ve been through this before: in the early 20th century we transformed from predominately agricultural to industrial. Yes, it was disruptive. And we managed to find our way. What helped us make that transition?

  • Willingness to learn new skills for new jobs.
  • Willingness to relocate.
  • A shift in education to support factory work.
  • The entrepreneurial spirit that looked for opportunity and possibility.

What if we got ahead of this curve by having conversations now that will support a less disruptive future?


Cheri Torres is Lead Catalyst and CEO at Collaborative by Design. She works with leaders in organizations and communities to enhance their ability to fuel productivity and meaningful engagement through effective communication. Learn more at


Sign up for our Free newsletter

Get valuable resources, information and events that spark curiosity and invite exploration into Conversations Worth Having.

You're safe with us. We will never spam you or sell your contact information.