Future skills now

Future Skills Now!

Future Skills Now! How You Can Stay Ahead.

The world is changing, rapidly. Companies struggle with new values, being challenged by transparency and new ethics. Customers demand cleaner, greener and cheaper products while the IT landscape is changing by the minute. New management philosophies say: make mistakes but the reality is you’re doomed on social media when you do. How to deal with all this, is the biggest management challenge of all times.

This article helps you to get great insights on which skills management and employees will need in a new world where change is the only constant factor.

What we don’t need so desperate anymore?

The ’00s and the ’10s showed us that it was important for companies to be ‘lean’ and ‘agile’. Lean was designed to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency, especially related to repetitive tasks as often in seen in manufacturing. Agile was designed to execute tasks over a short time frame, with frequent customer involvement, and to be able to make changes quickly. Dexterity was an important key of success within companies so we needed people with lean and agile skills.

Also the way we communicated needed improvement so we started to integrate e-mail, whatsapp, Facebook and other social media in our communication set, next to our mobile phone, our laptop, Skype and other new tools. So we needed people that could help us with our new communication.

Technology was booming but complex so we needed people that understood how it worked, how to install things and how to maintain it. And how to solve problems.

Skills for resume

We also needed to understand our employees and customers in a better way so focus was on human resources management as well. Because we were still afraid that we did something wrong, we needed people that were good in (quality) control and coordination. We wanted persons that were able to cooperate so we had to have people that were quality team players.

And to top it all, we needed people that could deal with all these (new) things within the required time frame so HR was paying a lot of attention to improve time management.

Why do we need new skills?

The World Economic Forum, where all bright minds (like CEOs, experts, leaders) come together in Davos (Switzerland) each year, tells us that no less than 42 percent of the current required skills of employees (mentioned above) will be changed. It may not come as a surprise that the digital transformation of the world is the key driver for changing skills.

World Economic Forum

Revolutions as drivers for change

Let’s talk about the industrial revolution. Like Rocky Balboa, the world just needs more episodes to develop into something else. Sylvester Stallone transformed Rocky, a young and angry boxing talent into an old, contemplating and regretful legend and needed 6 movies for this turnaround. The world is evolving too and already brought us a bunch of industrial revolutions.

The first industrial revolution led us to major social changes when companies started to use steam machines, cast iron, mechanization and water power to produce products on a large scale.

It will change our lives dramatically.

The second one brought us steal, oil and electricity and everything that comes with it, like mass production and assembly lines, while we now are at end of the third industrial revolution. Our social life has changed in the last twenty years because of the computer and improved communications, while people and organizations started acting globally because of new, unlimited opportunities due to automation. 


At the moment we’re on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution and it is all about technology. Technologies will start to develop exponentially (instead of linear) and will get entangled more and more. That’s the core of this revolution. Networks, platforms, machines, systems and people will all be connected with each other.

We’ll see more and more artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics, biotechnology and new ways of processing. Big data, quantum computing, internet of things – the future is here already!

Cyber physical systems

Cyber physical systems take over and this will lead to an overflow of disruptive innovations, like we saw earlier with Facebook (creating social communication change), Tinder (creating change in the way we choose partners), Bitcoin (creating ways in which we can pay), Bookings (creating change in the way we celebrate holidays) and Uber (creating change in the way of transporting people).

Disruptive innovations will change our lives dramatically even more. Like the way we choose our partners, pay for stuff and book our holidays. But also in the way organizations deal with employees we get to see disruptive changes. In the future employees will not be following leaders anymore but will be leading more and more by themselves. In the end they will become the organization.

What will be important or even vital skills for the (near) future?

Changing the structures of organizations will be much easier because the technology is finally supportive instead of a nuisance. This is key to have in mind when you think about future skills. New technologies will lead to new products in a way the world has never seen before. There will be completely new business models based on the new possibilities.

However, this can only be done if the right skills to deal with it are in place.

It won’t come as a surprise that ‘thinking’ will get more important than ‘acting’. This ‘acting’ attitude was key in the zeroes and the tens, where situations demanded a ‘trial and error’ mindset. However, with the new technologies analytical thinking will be a key skill for employees.

Also there will be no surprise in saying that innovation skills will be of the utmost importance. Innovation is not a skill in itself but a combination of multiple skillsets. For successful innovation it is important that people can combine cognitive skills (like creative and critical thinking), behavioral skills (like problem solving, risk management), functional skills (writing, reading, communicating) and technical skills (like research, project management).

Importance of innovation explained

Although it is obvious that innovation is and will be important, it is useful to know that there are four main reasons why innovation needs to be integrated within organizational structures.
  1. Recruiting top talent: successful innovative companies will attract talented, innovative people as they want to work with companies where they can develop themselves and contribute to a better world.
  2. Meeting customer needs: innovation is needed desperately to meet the ever-changing customer needs. Innovators see how the market is changing and will come up with ideas that excite customers again.
  3. Growth: innovation makes it easier to grow, no matter how large or small the company is. New solutions for existing customer needs always sell better than old solutions for old needs.
  4. Stand out from competition: successful innovation allows you to offer something unique to customers.
Psychologist and innovation-expert Janina den Hertog, Course Director Innovation with Saxion University of Applied Sciences, says in an interview with a Dutch website about knowledge (Kennislink) that ‘Innovation is a Way of Life’. She also says that too much focus on results is killing for creativity, which is a main driver for innovation.

It is eminent to start with integrating innovation in your organisation when things are going well.

Unfortunately companies start to think about innovation when turnover is already declining and customers are leaving. Needless to say that pressure on innovation along with impatient behaviour of management will result in failure. It is eminent to start with integrating innovation in your organisation when things are going well.

Leadership will remain as important as it was before but more on an individual basis and will integrate in the lower parts of organizations. The same goes for entrepreneurial skills.

What will be the answer for this technological revolution?

Last but not least, we need to realize that the world becomes very ‘technological’. Because of this it is getting more important for leaders and employees to reach out to the right people in the right way. With this in mind, social influencing and, more importantly, social intelligence will become key skills too. Social intelligence is the capacity to know yourself and to know other people. Ross Honeywill, a well-known social scientist, says that social intelligence is an aggregated measure of self- and social-awareness, evolved social beliefs and attitudes, combined with a capacity and appetite to manage complex social change.

Top 10 of skills to become futureproof

To end this article you will find a very helpful top 10 of new skills fo become futureproof.
Top 10 Future Skills

The world is changing more rapidly than ever. The way employees and managers deal with changes was, is and will be the most important driver of success. That is why it is vital for organizations to deal with the future now: grow the skills of the most important capital of your organization, people.

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