Anders Indset ran from the side of the stage and leapt up to start the opening keynote of the DES 2017 digital transformation event in Madrid, Spain. He brought with him a contrarian message that we now spend too much time responding and reacting and not enough time thinking.

The entrepreneur, author, and self-styled business philosopher was talking about setting priorities and leading rather than being caught up in a string of overstimulated moments. The message hit its mark with the audience of business executives and project leaders at the Madrid conference.

Indset acknowledged that machine learning and AI are getting smarter each day and that “what used to be abstract thoughts we are [now] solving with technology.” That also makes us fear that “half of the jobs will be gone.”

SEE: AI, Automation, and Tech Jobs (a ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)

To avoid being automated out of work, humans need to act with even greater purpose, and that comes with thought and reflection. Indset recommended spending an hour a day thinking, in order to stay focused on your purpose.

“We have to be extraordinary, or the machines will come get us,” he said.

His DES 2017 keynote on Tuesday had the same title as his new book, Wild Knowledge: Outthink the Revolution.

Indset described four forces of change that are reshaping the world, and then prescribed a series of steps for how today’s professionals can outthink the revolution.

SEE: Ebook–IT leader’s guide to achieving digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)

Forces of change

  1. Globalization: We thought it would make everything better, but a lot people are getting left behind.
  2. Wild Knowledge: Self-perpetuating worldviews powered by social media are skewing perceptions.
  3. Women: “29 year old women are taking over the world” because women are better communicators and co-creators.
  4. Technology: “Technology does not disrupt industries. It’s what we do with technology that disrupts industries.”

Outthink the revolution

1. Ask Why

Why are you getting up in the morning? Have a good answer for you, your team, and your organization.

2. Forget What

Don’t get lost in the specifics of what you do when you stop to think about your larger purpose.

3. Forget Who

Don’t stick to stereotypes when hiring. Don’t just hire people who look good, smell good, say the right things, and are intelligent. Find the talented people who think outside the norms.

4. Fail

“There are so many beautiful things to learn from failure. Failure is the only thing that drives us forward.” Don’t obsess about always trying to get it right the first time.

5. Say No

You can spend all day in meetings and then end up in a time management training because you’re in too many meetings and don’t have time to do your work. Say “no” to meetings that aren’t critical to your purpose and top priorities.

6. Be resilient

“You have to go through some walls,” like the way Elon Musk is doing with electric cars. Very few believed he could pull it off.

7. Be a storymaker

“Create a story someone can believe in.” Never underestimate the power of a great story.

Final world

“You weren’t born to just pay bills and die,” Indset said. “Get up in the morning and do something.”