By Fernando Sanchez – Arias

Those of us who are committed to our personal and professional evolution, seek to be up-to-date, having the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that allow us to quickly and effectively adapt to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions. Not being up to date, not being skilled at handling the new or being flexible to learn is an easy and direct recipe for personal and professional failure.

One of today’s biggest challenges is the digitization of our physical reality. Robotics, and the Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), among many other technologies, are quickly transforming the way we think, learn, feel, act, work, interact, and enjoy life. Are these technologies not also transforming the way we lead our teams and organizations no matter the business we are in?

Many of us are increasingly exposed to a digital dimension. We’ve gone from turning a phone’s disc to making a call pressing buttons, and from there to tapping the screens of smartphones that follow our instructions to make our life easier. Today,  the interaction with the electronic and digital equipment that surrounds us at home and at work is no longer through the touch of our fingers, leaving room for voice command. We are already no longer “touching”,  but instead “talking” to give instructions to the digital equipment around us such as smartphones, tablets, home appliances, and vehicles. Google Home,  Alexa, and Siri are just a few of many interfaces that allow frictionless human-to-technological interaction.

Our social interaction is affected by electronic devices that have been setting the pace of conversations and actions among friends, family members, colleagues, and clients. Faced with this, it is vital to know how to balance the so-called “phygital” reality, a word we use inspired by the term “phygital”used by experts  in digital marketing to reflect the combination of the customer’s physical and tangible dimension in stores and in the use of their products with the digital and virtual  dimension through websites or apps accessible through their devices.  

This “phygital” reality comes with challenges for those who are not open to learning and leading team using new technologies. Even those recognized as connoisseurs and early users are challenged, given the speed of the digital transformation.

How can you cope with the changes in this digital transformation?  

Here we share three simple but powerful actions  that, without distinction of age, profession, occupation or industry, can help to successfully face the challenges of the “phygital” reality:

    • Learn and try avidly:

Read passionately, subscribe to blogs like Seth  Godin’s (seths.blog) and digital magazines about the impact of changes on work and social services such as Wired  (www.wired.com) and MIT Technology Review (www.technologyreview.com). They allow us to know what is emerging. Daring to go to stores or fairs to test and use the new equipment and applications helps not only to know what exists but how we can effectively use it.

    • Receive and give reverse and cross-generational mentoring:  

People of one generation can learn a lot from those of other generations. Each generation has something to contribute and something to learn from other generations. Being a mentor to one or more people from other generations and being mentored by a person of another generation helps you keep up with changes and at the same time value and capitalize on the experiences that each person has.

    • Join networks and associations: 

Being part of professional update networks and groups such as the Junior Chamber International (www.jci.cc), LinkedIn groups, chambers of commerce such as the French-American Chamber of Commerce (www.facchouston.org), professional associations such as AMA (www.amanet.org), and ATD (www.td.org), helps us to  have access to what is happening locally and globally.

In times of change, our humility to learn and our courage to change is essential to successfully face the phygital challenges, mastering new technologies while maintaining the humanity of our interactions.

Fernando Sanchez-Arias

As a business and people strategy executive, author, advisor, and coach, Fernando has more than 20 years of experience leading, designing and facilitating learning experiences in cultural and cognitive diversity, digital leadership, cultural intelligence, innovation, learning, and national/organizational culture; for Fortune 100 companies, large national and multi-national enterprises, universities, chambers of commerce, and professional associations.

He has built business alliances, conducted keynotes, and facilitated learning sessions and coaching interactions in more than 70 nations for more than 10,000 people from more than 100 countries.

Currently serving as Chief People Officer and Head of Learning, Diversity and Innovation of CLICK Institute, a Washington DC-based think tank, Fernando was the Chief People Officer of The Home Depot’s Global Custom Commerce, an e-commerce division and digital innovation hub of the major multibillionaire retailer. Fernando was part of the Work-based Learning Leadership Executive Program offered by the Wharton School and the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained a Master of Science in Education and is currently writing his doctoral dissertation. He is a former board member of the Association of Talent Development (ATD) and a former world president of Junior Chamber International (JCI).  

He is the author of “Learning to be a Dolphin in a Sea of Sharks”, a personal and professional leadership book.

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