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July 11, 2011

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Great post and food for thought.

When I originally read the piece you reference about hyper-specialization, I was worried about what that means for an already isolated world of work, turning knowledge work into Henry Ford's assembly line. On the other hand, I do like the idea of shucking the tasks that I neither like nor am trained to do and I think this would appeal to others as well.

Which is why I was excited about the University of Phoenix report. It seems to me like you do need a very clear and ever more narrow specialization, but you also have to just be "good" and smart in general, which is what I read a lot of these skills as (sense making, social intelligence, novel thinking, etc.)

I think the real trick and revolution in the workforce will be teaching people how to seek out their work (not specifically jobs) and how to manage their own employment/marketing themselves (hello social media!) etc.

Thanks, Savannah--agreed that focusing on our greatest talents may be a good idea in terms of our careers. I've certainly found that the more I can focus on my "core competencies," the better.

And 110% agree about people needing to think differently about their own career management. We need to be much more entrepreneurial about what we do, how and what we learn, how we market ourselves, etc. if we want to stay ahead of things. It's going to be a challenge, but completely do-able.

Hi Michele; Good topic!
1. Most of the above skills seem to imply a generalist approach to me, but the complexity many people face also requires hyper-specialization. I think there is a strong case to strive for a balance between a generalist or a hyper-specialist approach; the T shaped individual.
2. I also think communication is mostly missing from this list. I was recently speaking to my wife over some problematic situations at her job. There was a case to be made that different individual were holding different business models in their mind. This seems basic, but models that were common 10 years ago have changed and it's easy for people to fail to fully understand how many of their beliefs have failed to change along with situations on the ground (so to speak). Communication in this case is critical because change is has been so pervasive and management structures still tend to be siloed and hierarchical. I'd say that things like sense-making, design thinking and collaboration do not account for much without communication.

Hi Howard--thanks for the great comment! RE: "communication" skills, I tend to see those as embedded in some of the other skills. For example, cross-cultural competency is about "operating" in different cultural contexts, which to me includes being able to communicate effectively. New media literacy is about using social media tools to communicate effectively. Virtual collaboration is about communicating outside of a face-to-face setting. So although communication isn't explicitly stated as a separate skill, I see it as being an integral part of several of the other skills. My thought anyway. . .

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