Archive for September, 2011

Critical Skills for our Future

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The more I learn, the more I need to learn.  And it doesn’t all take place in a formal educational setting.  As I watch our global economy and read Freidman’s latest book, “That Used To Be Us,”    it is clear that the Knowledge Sets are shifting.  Employers need people with the technical skills to get the work done. They also need these people to have communication and innovation abilities. The “AMA Critical Skills Survey” shows that executives had begun placing emphasis on a new set of skills that is neither intuitive for most people nor taught in school. “The Four Cs,” and they consist of:

Critical thinking and problem solving-the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take actions as appropriate;
Effective communication-the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral forms;
Collaboration and team building-the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and with opposing points of view;
Creativity and innovation-the ability to see what’s NOT there and make something happen

In yet another survey, “Critical Skills for Workforce 2020,” the Institute for Future teamed up with University of Phoenix Research Institute finding the following similar categories:

Sense-making – Determining deeper meaning or significance of what’s being expressed
Social intelligence – connecting to others and sensing and stimulation reactions
Novel and adaptive thinking – thinking and coming up with creative solutions
Cross-cultural competency – operating in different cultural settings
Computational thinking – translating vast amounts of data into abstract conceepts and understanding data-based reasoning
New media literacy – leveraging, critically assessing and developing content using new media forms
Transdisciplinarity – understanding concepts across multiple disciplines

Each of these is a topic of discussion for identifying examples, how to learn (teach) it and then how to demonstrate it.

Learn to Learn

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When I keep doing what I always do, why do I think it will have a different result?

This bit of insanity applies to  many aspects of our lives. But let’s look at just one. We do our jobs well and manage the constant winds of change. Like a sailing a boat we know how to stay upright and navigate the personalities and glitches of the day.  But we often don’t see the storm clouds on the horizon until it’s too late.   A common competency found in most public and private sector organizations involves being able to see what knowledge and skills will be needed to handle the future storms of opportunity.  If we don’t learn new skills (not only technology, but those related to your organization’s work and mission) then we’re not ready to step up to the new challenges.  I worked with several organizations that  are shifting from mechanical to digital arenas.  This means that the skill sets of  people working with machines and parts will need to include computer skills. Look at automobile maintenance that now requires a computer read-out.  Even our money is now being printed digitally now.

Don’t wait until your next performance assessment to have a conversation with your boss.  Tell her what types of interests or aspirations you have for moving up or around in your organization.  Ask her what she sees as the most valuable skills your organization needs. If your boss isn’t available to have this conversation, step back and take a look at the hot issues impacting your organization or profession. For example, if the demographics of your customer base changing, you could learn a second (or third) language. Take a course or seminar; get some training to contribute solving these issues.  Volunteer for committees or task forces to practice your skills and knowledge so you don’t lose what you just learned.  Technology has made a lot or resources available to us that we just have to tickle the keyboard to find. And many are free or low cost.  Your organization may have a training or tuition reimbursement budget you can tap.

Derrick Dortch talks to federal workers encouraging them to get some training in order to advance in their careers and offering some places to start.