Home Youth empowerment The Coming Revolution in Human Empowerment

The Coming Revolution in Human Empowerment


Power to the people, now”

The first part of this series provides context for the human empowerment revolution. To access it, use this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkao/2022/04/19/the-coming-revolution-in-human-empowermentpart-i/?sh=255a9879ccf0

The fundamental dynamic underlying the human empowerment revolution I describe and the resulting human empowerment industry is the transfer of power from institutions to the individual. In our old systems of public education, human resource management, certification bodies, corporate training, and professional guilds, power adheres to the institution and the individual is consequently disempowered.

But we live in an era of discontinuity, not only shaped by disruptive technology, but also by the weakening of inherited business models underlying institutions such as formal education, which until now has been the gathering place to cultivate human potential at scale. And this extends to other approaches inherited from the human capital culture that are now also ripe for reinvention.

These legacy models have enabled massive, centralized institutions (universities, certifying bodies such as professional councils, and standardized testing agencies) to develop efficient, linear learning sequences that have achieved certified scale and performance at their conditions – a version of the ultimate self-licking ice cream. cone and on a societal scale.

Educational institutions as we know them today responded to the assessment needs of the industrial age. Standardized metrics put labels on the “good” ones

and allowed them to move forward, while the “slow” ones were steered into alternative employment or given some form of remedial education. The establishment of external, “objective” measures of success – grades, standardized test scores, degrees – has taken precedence over efforts to personalize learning to a student’s specific needs and passions. This meant that students once certified by the “system” still faced the daunting challenge of figuring out how to make choices from the buffet of life that best expressed their values ​​and passions.

Certification and accreditation have followed this industrial logic. Disproportionate power was given to legacy institutions because of their ability to award badges of achievement which were the representative language of a talented person in their efforts to pursue opportunities. The fact that many innovators, entrepreneurs and cultural creatives have rejected this system, abandoned it and succeeded without its help belies its current legitimacy. They rejected the information asymmetry and disempowerment that stem from inherited HR and human capital practices. This asymmetry is compounded by the difficulty of finding the right advice, support and “just in time” services. Career counsellors, outplacement consultants, coaches and therapists are a challenge for the average person to find and choose. The process often resembles the highly subjective “taste” required to select a good bottle of Bordeaux or a great pair of speakers.

But we no longer live in an analog world where pursuing standardized career paths is the key to success and where linear learning paths are the benchmark. In terms of the demand for talent, the world of employment has undergone significant changes. First, the pace of societal change has accelerated and

disruption of traditional career paths is the result. New types of quarries appear like kudzu after heavy rain. Employers, alarmed by the unpreparedness of new market entrants, are increasingly injecting proprietary learning experiences into the public space, both to screen new hires but also to supplement inadequate offers provided by mainstream educational institutions. Considering the cost of recruitment, this also makes good economic sense.

Gaps are also evident with regard to social entrepreneurship and NGO work. The Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the UN are an agenda for the human race. Yet these societal and planetary priorities do not easily translate into learning arcs or career-preparation paths for young talent. For example, if one is interested in ocean security, it is far from clear which is the “right” academic path. Internships and “trial” situations are only dimly searchable in today’s inefficient market for opportunities. And academic institutions have been slow to create tailor-made pathways for these new types of demand.

Finally, the situation is equally difficult from the perspective of labor ministries and government officials responsible for cultivating human capital. Many countries, in order to remain economically competitive, have focused on strategic industries. All of this is well and good. Yet the learning paths to serve these critical and emerging economic sectors are hit or miss at best. There is also a related problem of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment in parts of the world like the Middle East where capital is abundant but talent must be cultivated. In these countries, mobilizing talent around suitable career paths is a permanent challenge.

The situation would not be as dire if those responsible for creating and deploying

core learning experiences have been able to keep pace with change. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Learning is increasingly like old wine in new bottles (eLearning), new wine in old bottles (the latest 500-page entrepreneurship manual), or learning as entertainment (master class).

The following chart of “think bubbles” contrasts the disempowering weight of legacy with a new view of technology-enabled human empowerment along six critical dimensions:


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

I depend on others for guidance. They may not know enough, have the time or interest to fully understand my needs, or have my best interests at heart (as opposed to institutions). It is difficult for me to say with whom I should work.

The vision of human empowerment

I receive advice and support (professional, personal, life planning) when I need it and in the form that is most useful to me. This advice is objective, trustworthy, evidence-based, and respectful of my privacy.


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

My learning must fit into fixed program structures defined by institutions and experts without regard to my particular learning style or personal needs.

The vision of human empowerment

I have continuous access to personalized learning that takes me on a journey of increasing skill. This learning is available when I need it and in the form most compatible with my abilities and needs (tacit as well as explicit).


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

I am at the mercy of institutions beyond my control to certify my knowledge. Additionally, they have the right to retain custody of my information; my transcripts are in their binders.

The vision of human empowerment

I am able to demonstrate my skills in the most effective way and based on what I have actually learned and what I need to move forward. I own, control, and freely access my own information, which represents my abilities and accomplishments in the world.


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

I lack the means and skills to find the right opportunities for me, navigate my path and design my life.

The vision of human empowerment

I am exposed to the widest range of opportunities that match my needs and I am supported to make optimal choices at every stage of my life journey.


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

It is difficult to find the right resources, sources of guidance and support for my journey of personal development and well-being. I do not have the ability to evaluate the choices available to me to find the optimal “solution” to my personal needs.

The vision of human empowerment

I have access to knowledge, resources and tools that help me move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’ and living my ‘best life’. A rich array of personalized resources are available to me when I need them.


Disempowerment due to inherited practices and institutions

I am troubled by the state of the world, but I feel powerless to do anything about it. I don’t know where to go to find the learning and guidance needed to express my values ​​and make a difference in the areas I care about.

The vision of human empowerment

I have access to the tools, community and knowledge that allow me to use my skills to achieve my goal

These questions are common to all of us, regardless of our situation in life. In a sense, we are all marginalized because our knowledge is imperfect and our access to support is incomplete. However, a tsunami of technological innovation and new business models will come to our rescue and is the subject of Part III of this series.