When Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter wrote their popular book “What got you here won’t get you there”, little did theyknow that it was not just title of a book but an eternal truth that got a syntax!It holds true in all sorts of domains and contexts, and work-skills are no exception.The Institute for the Future (IFTF) – anindependent, nonprofit strategic research group with more than 40 years of forecasting experience–came up with a list of ‘Future Work Skills – 2020’, and the list surely helps us understand what all it will take for us to succeed and stay a ‘success’ in the workplace of tomorrow. Let’s discuss those 10 skills in their essence:

1. Sense-Making:

It isdefined as the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed. It is a higher-level thinking skill that cannot be codified. For example, a computer can apply brute force of number-crunching but it cannot understand contextual variables as effortlessly as a human-being can.

2. Social Intelligence:

It is defined as the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions*. Socially intelligent professionals are able to assess the emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone and gestures accordingly. It is a key-skill to connect and collaborate.

3. Novel & Adaptive Thinking:

It is defined as the ability to think and come up with solutions and responses beyond the ones which are rote or rule-based. It is the ability to respond to unique unexpected circumstances of the moment, be it writing a cogent legal argument, or trying a new dish out of set ingredients.

4. Cross-Cultural Competency:

It is defined as the ability to operate in different cultural settings. It involves specific skills like linguistic skills, and also the skills like adaptability to changing circumstances and an ability to sense and respond to new contexts. It is now crucial as organizations increasingly see diversity as a driver of innovation.

5. Computational Thinking:

It is defined as the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning. It involves features like simulations and statistical analysis, and also the abilityto remain able to act in absence of data withoutseeking algorithm to guide every type of decision making.

6. New-Media Literacy:

It is defined as the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication. It will involve comfort with accessinguser-generated media like videos, blogs, and podcasts and also creating and presenting one’s own visual information.

7. Transdisciplinarity:

It is defined as literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. One will need to be “T-shaped”, withdeep knowledge of one field and understanding of a broader range of disciplinesor industries, e.g.biologists with understanding of mathematics and mathematicians who understand biology.

8. Design Mindset:

It is defined as ability to represent and develop tasks and processes for desired outcomes. Neuroscience studies have found thatour physical environments profoundly shape our cognition. So a design-approach is needed towards our work, e.g. even height of ceiling affects people’sability for relational thinking and recall of facts.

9. Cognitive Load Management:

It is defined as ability to discriminate & filter information for importance, and to know how to maximize cognitive functioning. It involves utilizing new tools to deal with the information onslaught by practices like ranking, tagging, adding-metadata or simplifying the presentation of data.

10. Virtual Collaboration:

It is defined as ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.It involves ensuring that collaborative platforms also offer social-emotional benefits throughmicro-blogging, social networking sites etc. with features like immediate feedback.

*For next-generation leadership-development, Johnson & Johnson looked at its 358 midcareer executives across the globe. The group reflected a global spread, with 45% women in it. They identified about a half of this group as ‘high potentials’. When all of these 358 were evaluated on various competencies, the high-potentials were found to exhibit all 20 of the ESI (Emotional & Social Intelligence) competencies while the executives in the comparison group possessed only a few of them.

Dr. Sandeep Atre (sandeepatre@socialigence.net)
Founder Director, Socialigence (www.socialigence.net)
Also the author of books “Understanding Emotions Logically” and “Observing Nonverbal Behavior”