In many ways, stu­dents are the prod­ucts of edu­ca­tors. If a school or uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem con­sis­tent­ly pro­duces artis­tic, sci­en­tif­ic, busi­ness, and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, then it’s safe to say that the sys­tem is serv­ing soci­ety well. So, it only makes sense that edu­ca­tors need to exam­ine (and end­less­ly re-exam­ine) what stu­dents are being taught. Thus, there’s prob­a­bly no bet­ter way to begin a new year of nextsens­ing blog posts than by point­ing you to “10 Com­pe­ten­cies Stu­dents Need To Thrive In The Future” [link].

Future Work Skills 2020As it sounds, this is an exam­i­na­tion of the ten most impor­tant skills stu­dents need in order to suc­ceed. The source for these 10 skills is Future Work Skills 2020, a study con­duct­ed by the Insti­tute for the Future for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix Research Insti­tute [link].

Each of the 10 skills is worth your atten­tion; but, I would espe­cial­ly point out what the report says about “sense-mak­ing”. It’s actu­al­ly #1 on the list! The report recog­nis­es that tech­nol­o­gy will con­tin­ue to increase its pres­ence in every­one’s life. How­ev­er: “A com­put­er may be able to beat a human in a game of chess or Jeop­ardy by sheer force of its com­pu­ta­tion­al abil­i­ties, but if you ask it whether it wants to play pool, it won’t be able to tell whether you are talk­ing about swim­ming, finan­cial port­fo­lios, or bil­liards.” In oth­er words, it takes a human to make sense of a com­plex world.

Yet the 10 skills list­ed for stu­dents are, for me, need­ed by every­one.

Dis­rup­tive ambi­gu­i­ty, the state of mind in which the future path is unclear main­ly because so lit­tle makes sense, is per­va­sive. And sense-mak­ing is, in real­i­ty, a set of skills. Nextsens­ing is, in effect, a process and set of tools for mak­ing sense of future-tense oppor­tu­ni­ties so you can act upon them today. Iden­ti­fy­ing the req­ui­site com­pe­ten­cy frame­work and cor­re­spond­ing skills that will help exec­u­tives and their organ­i­sa­tions become more effec­tive in deal­ing with dis­rup­tive ambi­gu­i­ty is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant, which is why it is the sub­ject of a forth­com­ing e‑book I am begin­ning to draft.

To me, the 10 com­pe­ten­cies pro­filed in this report strong­ly indi­cate that nextsens­ing needs much more research by many more peo­ple. And I have found that nextsens­ing is a com­pe­ten­cy that requires a com­mit­ment encom­pass­ing the entire ecosys­tem of an organ­i­sa­tion to be effec­tive. (If stu­dents can begin mas­ter­ing that com­pe­ten­cy now, so much the bet­ter.)

A new year begins. How should you align with this new start?

While many of the skills and com­pe­ten­cies need­ed for suc­cess­ful­ly deal­ing with future-tense chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties already exist with­in your organ­i­sa­tion, what is required from lead­ers is to reori­ent those com­pe­ten­cies explic­it­ly toward unlock­ing future-tense oppor­tu­ni­ties. This is not about start­ing over; rather, it’s about reset­ting pri­or­i­ties. You will max­imise the poten­tial for 2014 only if you define, now, the strate­gic neces­si­ties that will cre­ate the most val­ue for your cur­rent and poten­tial cus­tomers over the next 12 months. More than like­ly, this means that your firm will need to change how it cre­ates val­ue.

In oth­er words, your strat­e­gy will be influ­enced more and more by your organ­i­sa­tion­s’s capac­i­ty to “learn its way for­ward” in a world in which mak­ing sense of things and renew­ing your organ­i­sa­tion’s iden­ti­ty accord­ing­ly is para­mount.

I recall Alvin Tof­fler’s spe­cial per­spec­tive: “The illit­er­ate of the 21st cen­tu­ry will not be those who can­not read and write, but those who can­not learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Or, as the report phrased it: “A new gen­er­a­tion of organ­i­sa­tion­al con­cepts and work skills is com­ing not from tra­di­tion­al management/organisational the­o­ries but from fields such as game design, neu­ro­science, and hap­pi­ness psy­chol­o­gy. These fields will dri­ve the cre­ation of new train­ing par­a­digms and tools.”

The time for nextsens­ing has arrived.

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