2020 Skills: New-Media Literacy

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at new-media.

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

An effective business communication strategy can help to convey a message to the target audience, effectively. However, business communication has evolved from the traditional static presentation-based medium to more dynamic and interactive mediums, i.e. video-based communication.

As a business leader, developing an effective business communication strategy should be your utmost priority. And it may require you to invest in training your employees about new-media literacy

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) identified new-media literacy as one of the key skills that employees will require to be an effective member of the workforce in 2020. New-Media Literacy, according to IFTF, is the ability to critically assess and develop content using the new forms of media to deliver the message to target audience.

Developing content like videos, blogs, illustrations, and podcasts can result in massive exposure for a business.

The problem is that many businesses presume that their target audience will consume content through desktops or laptops. This assumption is limiting the target market reach of businesses.

Smartphones offer mobility and utility to users; therefore, users consider smartphones as a primary option to consume content online. According to the Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services, the number of smartphone users will grow to about 2.5 Billion in 2019. Google recognizes this, and companies should begin optimizing their content for smartphone users to have a higher ranking in Google SERP.

what is the difference between traditional devices and smartphones?

Well, fundamentally, traditional devices (i.e. desktops and laptops) have a horizontal screen, whereas, smartphones have a vertical screen.

A content compatibility problem is particularly true in the case of video content, where users have to switch between horizontal (16:9) views and vertical (9:16) views. The native way to consume content via your phone is, of course, vertical.

how do you optimize your video content for smartphones?

A viable solution is to focus on producing vertical videos. Recently, Snapchat shared stats that vertical video ads have nine times more completed views than horizontal video ads. Furthermore, users on Snapchat and similar services consume three billion vertical videos every day.

Some practical tips for making the most out of vertical videos include:

  • Make It Short – Videos for social media are usually short, so include only relevant and concise information in the video presentation.
  • Use Text Smartly – You can use text in your videos but make them prominent by placing them in the center, so viewers can remain focused.
  • Get Up Close – There should be no distractions on screen — getting close to the subject enhances the overall impact.
  • Use Angles Wisely – Make sure that the presentation is attractive, if the product is not photogenic, use animations to increase the impact.

An added bonus of investing in training in this new media skill is that learning vertical video skills will enable employees to create more compelling visual presentations, thus improving communication and visual storytelling skills within your company too.

As new-media literacy is emerging as a top skill, video-based training is emerging as an effective method to train remote teams.  Our research highlights the importance of video-based training and how it can be an effective way to convey information.

So, contact us below, to see how we can help your employees use new-media efficiently and effectively.

2020 Skills: Computational Thinking

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at thinking like a computer. 

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

Cоmрutеrѕ саn bе uѕеd tо hеlр us solve рrоblеmѕ. Hоwеvеr, bеfоrе a рrоblеm саn be tасklеd, thе рrоblеm іtѕеlf аnd thе ways іn whісh іt could be ѕоlvеd nееd to bе undеrѕtооd.

Cоmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng allows uѕ tо dо this – tо tаkе a соmрlеx situation, understand whаt the рrоblеm іѕ аnd dеvеlор роѕѕіblе ѕоlutіоnѕ. Wе can thеn рrеѕеnt these ѕоlutіоnѕ іn a way thаt a computer, a humаn, оr both, саn undеrѕtаnd.

Jeannette Wing defines computational thinking as “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts of computer science.”

The four соrnеrѕtоnеѕ оf соmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng

Thеrе аrе fоur kеу components tо computational thіnkіng:

  • Dесоmроѕіtіоn – brеаkіng down a соmрlеx problem оr system іntо ѕmаllеr, mоrе manageable parts
  • Pаttеrn rесоgnіtіоn – looking fоr ѕіmіlаrіtіеѕ аmоng аnd within рrоblеmѕ
  • Abѕtrасtіоn – focusing оn the іmроrtаnt іnfоrmаtіоn оnlу, іgnоrіng іrrеlеvаnt dеtаіl
  • Algоrіthmѕ – dеvеlоріng a ѕtер-bу-ѕtер ѕоlutіоn tо thе problem, оr the rules to fоllоw tо ѕоlvе thе problem

Bіg dаtа and соmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng

Onе аѕресt оf dіgіtаl transformation thаt оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ struggle to gеt right is the іdеntіfуіng, сарturіng, mаnаgіng аnd аnаlуzіng оf bіg data. Aсrоѕѕ аll industries, organizations аrе kееn to use thіѕ data аnd thе wоrk of data ѕсіеntіѕtѕ tо discover thе іnѕіghtѕ that wіll drіvе strategic buѕіnеѕѕ decisions. CIOѕ tоdау nееd analytics expertise аѕ wеll as an undеrѕtаndіng of thе dаtа sciences аnd algorithmic approaches that wіll provide dаtа аnаlуtісѕ to their соmраnіеѕ.

Whу Develop Quаntіtаtіvе and Quаlіtаtіvе Dаtа Analysis Skills?

Quantitative іnfоrmаtіоn іѕ оbjесtіvе аnd comprised оf numеrісаl, measurable data. Quаlіtаtіvе іnfоrmаtіоn is subjective and bаѕеd оn оbѕеrvаtіоn and interpretation.

Sо muсh оf mоdеrn day buѕіnеѕѕ іѕ about рrоblеm-ѕоlvіng – whether that’s making ѕmаll іmрrоvеmеntѕ to enhance thе еffісіеnсу оf a buѕіnеѕѕ, or сrеаtіng brеаkthrоugh products аnd services fоr соnѕumеrѕ.

Whеn уоu master thе ѕkіllѕ tо аnаlуzе both quantitative and quаlіtаtіvе dаtа, you’ll hаvе a роwеrful аrѕеnаl of dіvеrѕе уеt related аbіlіtіеѕ to hеlр ѕесurе аdvаnсеmеnt in уоur current job аnd be mоrе соmреtіtіvе whеn seeking nеw орроrtunіtіеѕ.

Whу іѕ іt so іmроrtаnt іn the workplace?

Computational thinking runѕ through еvеrу аѕресt аnd function оf a modern business. It has bесоmе more crucial іn thе 21st сеnturу wоrkрlасе where so muсh is nоw dаtа-drіvеn.

Cоmрutаtіоnаl thinking саn bе applied tо almost аnу function оf a buѕіnеѕѕ. Planning аnd forecasting аrе bаѕеd оn раttеrnѕ of gеnеrаlіzаtіоn or аbѕtrасtіоn. Dеѕіgnіng thе uѕеr jоurnеу fоr a rеtаіl е-соmmеrсе site involves bеіng аblе tо break a рrоblеm dоwn іntо its component parts, uѕіng dесоmроѕіtіоn tесhniquеѕ, аnd соnѕtruсtіng a ѕequеnсе оf ѕtерѕ tо ѕоlvе thе issue uѕіng algorithmic thinking.

Employees whо develop proficiency іn соmрutаtіоnаl thinking аlѕо develop:
·        Cоnfіdеnсе іn dealing wіth соmрlеxіtу
·        Pеrѕіѕtеnсе іn wоrkіng with dіffісult рrоblеmѕ
·        Tolerance fоr аmbіguіtу
·        The аbіlіtу to dеаl with open-ended рrоblеmѕ
·        The ability to соmmunісаtе and wоrk wіth оthеrѕ to асhіеvе a соmmоn gоаl оr solution

Four Steps to Tаkе Fіrѕt

Aѕ your tеаmѕ prepare to capture, соntrоl, mаnаgе and vіѕuаlіzе thе big dаtа that mаttеrѕ mоѕt tо уоur organization, it is helpful to go back to the four components of computational thinking and follow these steps:

  1. Break down a problem into its smaller parts as Elon Musk does. As he describes, “I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”
  2. Look for patterns within these parts and for similarities with other problems. Steve Jobs put this really well when he said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
  3. Focus on the essential information only. We can turn to Einstein here who once said, “I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else…that clutter(s) up the mind.”
  4. Finally, use a step-by-step approach to problem-solving, drawing on simple rules to help define your solution

2020 Skills: Virtual Collaboration

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at collaborating virtually. 

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

In this era of super-structured organizations and increased globalization, virtual collaboration is emerging as one of the top work arrangements across different sectors.

 Work from home. Work from anywhere.  Work from home. Work from anywhere.

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115% since 2005. This means that 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Interestingly, it is employers in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions that, among a total of 7% of U.S. employers offering flexible working arrangements, offer the most work-from-home opportunities for employees.

The Institute for The Future (IFTF) included Virtual collaboration as one of the top skills that employees will require to become a productive contributor in the future. IFTF defines virtual collaboration as the ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate value in the virtual work environment.

Still, virtual teams have their fair share of challenges that they must overcome to become productive. Some of the challenges include

  • Communication issues – As the communication is not done in person, virtual team members must learn strategies for effective communication in a virtual environment
  • Shared Value issues – Teams with shared values and deeper bonds, tend to perform better than others. However, this might be a challenge for virtual teams, as they might feel difficult to connect with others in an effective way.
  • Mindless distractions – The virtual team members have to stay focused on their work. There could be many distractions, however, team members need to commit to giving attention during working hours.

Erin Meyer, Professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, believes that to overcome these issues, we must think differently. The traditional methods to lead, build trust, make decisions, and communicate might not be effective in a virtual team environment. Professor Meyer also noted that managers of virtual teams need a different skill set to those with co-located teams.

Yale’s School of Management responded to this call for a different skill set for virtual teams, and in their course titled “Global Virtual Teams”, they taught skills that will help managers of the future to manage virtual teams more efficiently and effectively. These skills include

  • Build a collective identity –Build trust and avoid the “us-vs-them” mentality
  • Accept vulnerabilities – Accept risks that may come with trusting virtual team members
  • Avoid focus on common knowledge – Avoid talking about what is common, explore the unique value that every member could bring to the team.
  • Don’t make assumptions – Don’t fall prey to cultural stereotypes, access individuals based on their individual worth
  • Evaluate communication methods – Sort out the communication problem and create a method that is best suited to the current situation

So, how to train your virtual teams to become more efficient?

As virtual collaboration is emerging as a top work environment skill, video-based training is emerging as an effective method to train remote teams.

Our previous posts highlight the importance of video-based training and its value as an effective way to convey information.

Through video-based training, your team members can become equipped with strategies to be productive contributors to their virtual team. Furthermore, their communication skills and trust building skills may also be improved with interactive elements built into the training.

Contact us below to see how we can assist you to create a productive virtual team with our video-based training services.

2020 Skills: The T-Shaped Professional

In this third post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at transdisciplinarity, or how to become a T-shaped professional. 

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

Back in 1963, Warren Buffet, one of the most well-known investors on the planet, closely analyzed the business model of American Express. With millions of cardholders, the company had managed to achieve an incredibly strong position in the highly competitive US market. However, the Soybean Scandal, which was caused by a third party, changed everything pretty quickly. The stock dropped by almost 50 percent and the company lost $150 million. While most people decided to stop investing on American Express, Buffet made a completely different move.

 The Oracle of Omaha The Oracle of Omaha

He decided to study the company in a different way before making the investment. He visited a number of banks, supermarkets, drug stores and travel agencies. He found that all the customers had been using the service of American Express. The scandal had obliterated the stock price. But it had no effect in the mind of general customers. Buffet clearly understood that American Express had become one of the most trusted financial services in the world. While people became more anxious about the stock price, he became more optimistic about the future of the franchise. He invested almost a quarter of his total assets. It didn’t take a long time for the value of American Express to increase resulting in a massive profit for Buffet and his company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffet didn’t study the typical reports from analysts to decide his move for the investment. Instead, he extended his scope of study to a broader range of information sources. He escaped narrowness and achieved a massive success. In today’s world, this is called Transdisciplinarity.

Transdisciplinarity is a way of engaging non-specialist perspectives to escape the narrowness of any one discipline and open up a wider array of challenges and resources. It is focused on researching a specific problem by crossing the boundaries of two or more disciplines, just like Buffet analyzing the ailing stock price and customers’ continued reliance on American Express cards. People who possess the skill of Transdisciplinarity are known as T-shaped professionals, as they have the competency for crossing multi-disciplinary boundaries to analyze a problem and come up with innovative solutions.

There is and will always be a huge demand for T-Shaped professionals in today’s market. In addition to an incredibly deep knowledge in multiple disciplines, they also have the ability to communicate effectively while crossing the boundary of cultures and economies. As a result, they have a higher chance of making an immensely positive impact in any area.

If you really want to become successful in 2020 and beyond, you will have to transform yourself into a T-shaped professional. The first thing you need to do is enhance your understanding in multiple disciplines and effectively apply the knowledge to your domain.

To become a T-shaped individual, you have to assess your own skills and knowledge. A great way of doing it is making a list of your skills and rating them on a scale of 0 – 5. You have to be very honest with your rating to help you to get a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

The next thing you have to do is go through a checklist of four key steps.

The first one is the improvement. While rating your skills, you might have identified areas that can be improved, for example, programming. Create a new list of skills you want to improve and start working on them in a highly organized way by taking online courses, reading books, or joining cohorts.

The second step is determining your comfort zones. If you are happy with the level of skill of a specific area, let’s say copywriting, and have no intention to go further, you shouldn’t put in more effort to improve. Time is valuable, and you have other skills to improve!

The third step is the addition of new areas. Think of skills that complement those you already have. Maybe there are skills that will help you gain a promotion or find a new job.

The fourth and final step is diving deeper into a specific area. You have to determine it honestly, as it will be your specialization and act as a stem for your T-shaped skill sets, taking you on a path that will require time and effort.

After working on all these four factors, you will have developed a great combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the abilities that can be defined and measured, like copywriting and programming. But don’t forget the so-called “soft skills”, the personal attributes, like critical thinking and networking, needed to be successful in your work.

By prioritizing lifelong learning with transdisciplinarity, while maintaining a balance of your skill sets, you can transform yourself into a highly successful T-shaped professional now and into the future.