Making ourself future-proof by becoming thinkers

Here are some future-proof skills that we must aspire to develop.

  1. Sense-making – Connecting the dots, cross-pollinating ideas, combinatorial creativity across disciplines.
  2. Social intelligence – Connecting with people by asking the right questions and not necessarily by having all the answers.
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking – Staying up-to-date is no longer enough. We need to keep growing our personal skills and development.
  4. Cross-cultural competencies – Sensitivity and increased tolerance level towards differences.
  5. Computational thinking – Converting data into insights.
  6. New media literacy – Not just power point decks but also, be comfortable with videos, blogs, and graphics.
  7. Transdisciplinarity – More generalists, who can connect the dots across disciplines, in addition to specialists needed.
  8. Design mindset – Knowing human values and human nature.
  9. Cognitive load management – Via negative approach, learn to say NO, addition by subtracting.
  10. Virtual collaboration – Self-motivated, disciplined without a supervisor to monitor you physically.

Writer, Alain de Botton uses this idea to make a case for why there should be more philosophers in the boardroom.

Our society has made a rather unhelpful link between novelty and importance. If you properly understood eternal bits of human nature, you are better armed for the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be intimidated by the narrative of technology. We are constantly trying to work out how we can be future-proof and insulate ourselves from change. Technology is so fast paced – the mobile phone changes every six months. But books written in the 18th century are more up-to-date than the iPhone. They are leaning on human nature and that’s why they are future-proof. I urge you to look back and adopt a cycle of psychology – you can be as up-to-date as Silicon Valley.

Plato famously said that the world wouldn’t be right until kings were philosophers or philosophers were kings. He meant that the world needs a proper alliance of strategic rational thought and executive capability – too often we have a division between those who think and those who do.

Our brains may be the best research tools, but you rarely have a conversation with yourself. Taking time to step back and address big questions like ‘what am I trying to do?’ and ‘how do I feel about it?’ is so important.

Finland is planning to eliminate individual subjects from the school curriculum and instead, to adopt the interdisciplinary format of education to solve problems in the world.




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