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The Future of Work Belongs to Entrepreneurs

January 2019

Francisco Santolo foresees a future of unlimited possibility in which the individual will be more powerful than ever, with their impact multiplied by the communities which they are part of, linked to purpose, passion, vision, and values.

by Francisco Santolo

I foresee a future of unlimited possibility in which the individual will be more powerful than ever, with their impact multiplied by the communities which they are part of, linked to purpose, passion, vision, and values. Work will be revolutionized and the concept of "employee" will be replaced by "entrepreneur", involving a combination of current freelancers and businesspeople.

I see a network of entrepreneurs collaborating in accordance with their interests, their abilities and their talents in a variety of dynamic projects, irrespective of geographical borders, a concept that we are witnessing with the emergence of crowdsourcing. I do not see people working as employees nor do I see bosses: I only see autonomous individuals or temporary organizations set up for the sole purpose of collaborative work. The horizontal organizations will prevail over the vertical ones and we will experience the decline of current inflexible, bureaucratic corporations that are loaded with fixed costs, which need to adapt before becoming easy prey to technological disruption.

New entrepreneurial methodologies for innovating are slowly being embraced since they can easily be accessed by anyone through books, free online courses, or podcasts, implying a business revolution. Investment is no longer needed, nor is incurring significant economic or financial risks in order to start a new business. The Nike effect led most corporations to develop powerful suppliers, using them to outsource production, logistics, and other key areas. These very same suppliers are the ones who facilitate the triumph of the entrepreneurs by providing them with their idle capacity and allowing them to operate with a very competitive cost structure.

Likewise, I foresee considerable changes in the education system, with the gradual replacement of absolute knowledge, official curriculum, structures, and teacher's hierarchical role with a decentralized continuous learning framework, mentoring, moral leadership, autonomous learning, in which each individual will have the role of learning, teaching, and sharing. The change is already underway and there are countless sources of learning available for everyone. In that regard, I see money no longer being an important motivator, and economic incentives will lose strength. I even dare to say that being an entrepreneur will become something voluntary because goods and services will be abundant, with marginal costs tending to zero. Production will be decentralized starting with 3D printing and the presence of robots and artificial intelligence that are already taking care of a range of optimizing functions and becoming part of our lives.

The debate surrounding the implementation of the universal basic income (UBI), funded by productive abundance, is already happening in many countries. For example, sharing economy which is already seen in transportation, such as with Uber and holiday accommodation as in the case of Airbnb, will be extended to all areas of our lives, such as housing. The sharing economy model will be downgrading the importance of goods and ownership while celebrating detachment, and the considerable advances in transportation and communications will encourage us all to become global citizens, in the same fashion as we, digital nomads live in the world today.

I insist that even the most ambitious science fiction book ever written will become obsolete in just a matter of decades. The future is approaching exponentially and I am not the only one making claims on the upcoming trends, these predictions are heavily supported by plenty of literature, publications, and my own experience in study centers such as Singularity University, Stanford Graduate Business School, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan or Kellogg School of Management. If I delved into other fields, such as the study of the microbiome, nanotechnology, the manipulation of the genetic code with the already existing CRISPR tool, or the possibility of connecting our brains to the cloud, we can understand that there are no limits to the abrupt change that is coming.

The future brings enormous challenges and considerable opportunities. Each individual will become increasingly powerful through their actions, their word, and, most importantly, their silence or inaction. Our values, acceptance of diversity, tolerance, respect, and care for others will become our most cherished traits for staying optimistic about the future, and providing a better world for our future generation. We must be careful with fragmentation stemming from ideological differences that lead to insult, aggression and a growing conflict since the moral dilemmas that we are facing today will be insignificant compared with the ones the future brings. Tolerance and respect will be key.

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