2020 Skills: Social Intelligence

In this second post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at social intelligence. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

We are entering an era where smart machines and systems in a globally connected world will reshape the general work environment. A different skill set will be required to be a productive employee in the future workforce.

These predictions were made by Institute for the Future (IFTF) in their report titled “Future Work Skills 2020)”. According to this report, one of the key skills needed to tackle these drivers of change is Social Intelligence.

So, what exactly is Social Intelligence?

Dr. Daniel Goleman in his book “Social Intelligence” defined it as the ability to build relationships and navigate social environments.

So, why it is important from a business leader’s perspective to add social intelligence as one of the top themes in the corporate training requirements?

To answer this, let us navigate back to the IFTF’s report that identified two factors that highlight the importance of social intelligence in tomorrow’s workforce.

Firstly, in the globally connected world, new competitors are rising from rapidly developing economies like China and India. Therefore, having a presence in these areas is simply not enough. The key will be to employ people who are socially intelligent and are able to integrate local business processes in the global business framework.

Secondly, as super smart machines are replacing humans in some fields of business, the role of employees will need to change from being ‘replaceable’ by machines, to performing a support role that machines cannot provide. This difference between man and machine can be attributed largely to social intelligence.

Dr. Ronald Riggio is a globally-recognized authority on social intelligence. He lists six key components that can help individuals understand social intelligence. These are:

Social expressiveness skills – These include exceptional conversational skills and elevated levels of Verbal Fluency.
Social Awareness Skills – These include knowledge about social Scripts, Rules, and Roles.
Effective Listening Skills – These include having the ability to listen and understand others effectively
Emotional Intelligence Skills – These include having knowledge of communication tools that make others tick.
Social Self- Efficacy Skills – These include having the ability to effective role-playing and feeling socially self-confident
Impression Management Skills – These include creating a balance between controlling others and being authentic.

These components point to having awareness of the emotions of those around you and adapting your words, tone, and gestures accordingly.

So, how do you help your employees prepare for the future work environment?

Invest in training your employees to become more socially intelligent.

We’ve written about how powerful video-based training is on this blog before and how it is emerging as one of the most effective ways for telling stories and conveying information.

The basic anatomy of the social side of the brain reveals that mirror neurons are responsible for individuals learning through mimicry. People learn from what they see. As modern organizations consist of teams from distinct locations, it is not always possible to arrange training in-person. Video-based training can help your team develop social intelligence right from their laptops and tablets.

Contact us below to see how we can help you create truly unique digital training and let the motor neurons do the rest. 

2020 Skills: Sense-Making

In this first post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at the intellectual skill of sense-making. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

What is Sense-making?

Sense-making is the ability to give meaning to thought and the collective experiences that rationalize the practice and design of communication.  We can all attest to the old working methods that have been used for many years in our organizations.  Though this is not bad at all, it limits our ability as employees to think outside the box or even make sense of what we are doing; ending up becoming a discouraging cycle that we repeat daily without making any progress.

Sense-making, therefore, is meant to help organizations move away from the traditional approaches to decision making and develop new skills that can be used to analyze any decision before it is executed.  Directors and managers ought to understand that the only way to keep their employees motivated and growing is by encouraging and developing new capabilities in areas that will challenge them to become better.

Sense-making requires personal responsibility to learn by choice and turn the knowledge acquired into know how.  This simply means that it is essential to undertake learning in school to gain the understanding of how things should be practically done.  Having gained knowledge, learning how to implement it and thinking through actions is vital.  This is known as creative thinking!  Many of the employees stop at the knowledge level because they are not taught how to think creatively.  Though this skill is taught too, it would be ideal if we challenge ourselves to think outside the box early enough instead of waiting around for the decisions to be made by others especially the management.

The Art Of Creative Thinking

The most significant problem in the 21st Century and beyond that most organizations are facing is a lack of original thinking.  We have noticed a trend of well-educated employees who will simply follow documented work procedures without caring to think about them and how they should be applied. We have all worked with hundreds of them!  Most of these people will earn top managerial positions because of their bona fides but will not adequately deliver.  It is, therefore, imperative that creativity accompanies knowledge that shapes experience into meaningful actions; managers and directors should be at the forefront to ensure this is fulfilled in every position.  This is a continuous process that does not stop because the world we are in is continually changing.

Why is Creative Thinking Important?

Creative thinking is an art you can learn, but it requires lots of patience to mature and become effective. These skills are useful because of they:

Assist in developing new ideas – instead of a company following the same old patterns and expecting different results, it is wiser to create new plans, especially for innovation and marketing.
Push creative business ideas into reality – developing new ideas is not enough; implementing them into reality is what is more important.  Creative minds should be able to do both without fail.
Create diversity within the organization – diverse ideas bring different people together to work towards the future of the organization.  When in a workgroup, employees get to listen to different approaches presented and build their opinions and their thinking.

Developing Creative Thinking Skills

There is hope for many who may not comprehend what creative thinking is all about; you can learn these skills just like you learn any other profession.  The only exception with creative thinking skills is that your application levels determine how well you can think creatively.

But how do you develop these skills?

Take risks – good things don’t come to those who wait, they come to those who take risks. Become a risk taker and learn to exercise your creative thinking muscles.
Ask the right questions – for someone to develop creativity, they have to learn to ask the right questions  This includes asking ourselves challenging questions and working to find solutions.
Make a list of your ideas and select from them –  we all have opinions but we don’t often care to think through each of them to get to the very best one.  Challenging ourselves to write down a list and critic each one of our ideas will help us creatively use only the best.

Do you remember when desktop computers made by IBM and software from Microsoft was novel? And now today you can access the entire world around you by merely using a smartphone. This is as a result of a creative mind that saw the future brighter than it was back then.  We all have great minds; we only need to exercise the muscle of creative thinking to see the future we want to build!

Job Skills You’ll Need in 2020

Update: The below article introduces a series of posts on these skills which you can access using this handy index:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

According to The Muse, an influential career site geared towards young professionals, all of the most important skills workers will need by the year 2020 are digitally informed.

Digital literacy is defined as the set of knowledge, skills and behaviors required to access digital information effectively, efficiently, and ethically. It includes knowing how to evaluate digital information, and how to use it in decision-making.

Rapid change is taking place during this generation, For instance, Africa, with it’s mushrooming population and decreasing cost of data, has seen a big transition from the use of PC’s to the adoption of mobile technology.

Many organizations still measure success by the ability of a student to memorize knowledge, not how to create it.

Companies instead should be looking for innovative and creative employees, and it is those with an advanced level of digital skills that will be able to add value in the workplace in 2020.

The United Kingdom’s Digital Skills Committee, for example, estimates that the UK needs over 750,000 people with digital skills to close a growing skills gap many are fearful of. The World Economic Forum estimates that less than one percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills.

This unprecedented change leads to the question, how do we prepare ourselves for the future?

Before we can answer this question it helps to better understand the drivers of this change.

Six Drivers of Change

A group called the Institute for the Future, based at the University of Phoenix Research Institute, identified six drivers of this shift in required workplace skills. Briefly, those are:

Extreme longevity – The global lifespan is increasing, and by 2025, the US will see a 70% increase in the number of people over the age of 60. This increase in lifespan will change the way of learning and the nature of careers. Corporations will be forced to rethink the operation paths to be diverse and flexible.
The Rise of Smart Machines – Automation at the workplace is getting rid of repetitive jobs, and in 10 years, more smart devices and machines will replace human labor. Smart tech is augmented to make people more productive by extending their capabilities.
Computational World – The massive increase in sensors and processing has transformed the world into a programmable platform, which is unleashing an unimaginable amount of data. This will force the world to be able to see things in the form of data and focus on tweaking it to make the best out of it.
New Media Ecology – The rise of new tools in the Media requires advanced literacy beyond the traditional text. Visual media communication has developed a whole new language, demanding for people to learn and adapt to communicate.
Superstructured Organizations – Social tech is driving new ways of production and value creation, which is making it possible for corporations to work at extreme scales.
Globally Connected World – The world has grown to one small village due to the increased interconnectivity, which leaves Organizations with no other option but to diversify if they have to remain relevant in the fast-changing world.

These drivers of change are increasing the importance of digital skills. And in a virtuous cycle, digital skills are fostering job creation across the globe.  In the next series of posts we will look at specific skills recommended by the University of Phoenix Research Institute and what these mean for learning and development.

This Blockchain Explainer Gets So Many Things Right

We wanted to share this brilliantly done explainer video on Blockchain, not only because EVERYONE we know is talking about it, but also because it does an excellent job of demonstrating five key principles of effective learning design in video-based learning.


In one of our earlier posts on multimedia principles of learning, we looked at the principle of coherence. Essentially what this video does so well is weed out any unneccesary words and graphics and cover a highly complex topic in less than six minutes. Superbly focused.


Have a look at what a great job this video does of timing the display of words and graphics with the voice over. This is contiguity at work.


We really enjoyed the three factors that make blockchain unique being so well signposted. It was very clear from this what we were supposed to take away from the video.


We loved the use of the clean and simple, yet beautiful, graphics to support the narration. Too often graphics can get in the way, resulting in extraneous processing. That was not the case here.


Finally, we were waiting for the three factors that make blockchain unique to be summarized at the end, and we were not disappointed. This served as an important reminder of the key takeaways from the video.

Well done to the Centre for International Governance Innovation. We were very impressed.