We’ve accepted self-checkouts at grocery stores as a natural part of our lives. Even long before that, we’ve been able to pay at the pump at our local gas station without ever setting foot inside the physical store.
These are digital disruptions that have been increasing exponentially since long before the dot-com boom or personal mobile devices. These transformative technologies are designed exclusively to streamline once human-heavy tasks in an effort to simplify processes.
As a consumer, you may not be concerned, as these disruptions are consumer-minded. But for those whose jobs depend on you checking out with a physical person at the supermarket or going into the gas station to pay, digital disruption is playing out like a horror film.
And if digital disruptions are just going to continue at an exponential rate, is this the end for many careers? Are you feeling as though yours is next, and you’re powerless to stop it?
This Is a Both/And World
First, take a deep breath, and think about self-checkouts for a moment. They have been around for years, right? Self-checkouts were debuting long before autonomous vehicles, smartphones, and Amazon.com were widely accepted.
Now consider this: At your local grocery store, are there still physical cashiers? Yes! Likewise, think of those self-checkout areas. How many times do you put a product down too quickly on the conveyor belt and cause an error to happen, where a human being must reset the machine?
In my Anticipatory Leader System, I teach about something I call the Both/And Principle, an abundance mindset where even amid digital disruptions, the “old” way of doing things can be reinvented and intertwined with the “new” way.
In this case, humans and machines will coexist. Self-checkout is not sentient; it hasn’t a clue that you made an honest mistake by putting your bag of apples on the conveyor slightly too soon. Therefore, a human who thinks critically comes to reset the self-checkout for you!
Remote grocery shopping
During the coronavirus pandemic, grocery stores responded to global lockdowns in a virtual fashion. Through an app or a store’s website, consumers filled a virtual cart with their selections, paid, and then scheduled for pickup or delivery.
Some individuals found this cumbersome; however, others wholeheartedly embraced the concept of remote grocery shopping even after initial lockdowns were lifted. If everyone embraces virtual grocery shopping just as much as they embrace Amazon, where brick-and-mortar grocery stores merely become storage facilities for groceries to be delivered or picked up from, where does that leave the cashier?
When a certain job or career field within an industry is rendered completely obsolete as a result of an overhaul from transformative consumer behavior and digital disruption, does my Both/And Principle still apply?
A boom in entrepreneurship
I wrote an article years ago about how we would see professional networking increase as digital disruptions accelerated, due to the fact that so many would be searching for a new opportunity.
Now thanks to COVID-19, digital disruptions have accelerated far beyond their original expected trajectory. This has further increased the frequency of networking events, but a new wave of entrepreneurship networking has begun.
A boom in entrepreneurship is a direct result of my Anticipatory mindset in professionals identifying the Hard Trends in all industries and how to leverage them to their advantage. Virtual grocery shopping and the virtualization of many other ordinarily in-person activities is most definitely a Hard Trend already disrupting the industry and the individual, ready to be leveraged in an entrepreneurial way.
Anticipation prevents digital displacement
Having an Anticipatory mindset will set you and your organization ahead of the disruption curve, or in the case of what many employees fear, digital displacement. Machines will get smarter, but thanks to our Both/And world, the human element is still needed.
A medical career field facing the same disruption as grocery stores is pharmacy. Traditionally, a pharmacist has been underutilized in giving actual medical advice to patients and overutilized in merely filling prescriptions. We are already starting to see self-checkout-type kiosks fill prescriptions for patients, so where does a disrupted pharmacist go from here?
They have a doctorate degree and are incredibly useful as a medical professional! The key is to use anticipation now and treat self-checkouts as the Hard Trend that they have been at grocery stores, at the gas pump, and also in online shopping, where you don’t even need to go to the store itself.
We’re not going backward, but the future is a Both/And one. The generations growing up completely virtual will be ecstatic to enter a physical store, pick out an apple, pay for it, and eat it all in the same day without having to wait by the mailbox for it to arrive.
Yet in the meantime, digital displacement cannot be ignored. The only way to stay ahead is by utilizing my Anticipatory Organization Model to reinvent and set a new standard.