Skills the Innovation Workforce Will Need: A Live Session at Disruption 2020

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Today’s workers need to adapt to working in a digital environment by developing four essential skills.

Editor’s note: A version of this summary was provided by getAbstract.

Digital technologies have changed the ways people cooperate and innovate — and created business environments of dynamic change. Businesses must help their workers adapt to the technological advancements that have emerged since the beginning of the 21st century and spawned the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In previous industrial revolutions, new tools increased productivity, but today’s digital tools also affect design, development, collaboration, and innovation.

Today’s workers need to adapt by developing four essential skills:

  1. Omniscience. Everything in business connects with everything else, from R&D all the way down to the consumer. Complex business processes today require employees to have a holistic view of the business.
  2. Entrepreneurial mindset. Companies that encourage innovation benefit by having employees who help drive their companies forward. For example, one company in Boston developed its own AI software package as part of its research; the firm now sees this as a core part of its business.
  3. Bottom-line focus. Communication and collaboration foster employee inclusion. Employees who recognize the impact of their work on profitability feel more motivated to innovate and empowered to contribute to the business’s bottom line.
  4. Ethical intelligence. Businesses must use technology responsibly. Companies must have processes that surface ethical considerations, encourage open discussions, and recognize the effect their innovations have in the public realm. Companies must cultivate their workforces to remain competitive.

The coronavirus pandemic amplifies the need to develop workers who can adapt to change. Solving challenges such as helping remote workers use online cooperation tools efficiently or giving students access to online learning tools requires an integrated workforce with entrepreneurial vision.

Responsibility for fostering these core competencies lies both with the individual and the organization. Companies need to create environments where people can develop skills immersively as part of their daily jobs. A business’s organizational structure must also support the four crucial skills. An entrepreneurial mindset, for example, can only thrive within a culture that tolerates failure.

Takeaways from the session:

  • Digital technologies have changed the ways people cooperate and innovate – and created business environments of dynamic change.
  • Today’s workers need to adapt by developing four essential skills.
  • Companies must cultivate their workforces to remain competitive.


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Comments (2)
Miloš Šinkovec
I fully agree that it is necessary to develop core competencies for healthy business growth. It is my opinion that companies alone will not have to keep up with progress if employees do not gain the knowledge and entrepreneurial mindset already in the education phase in primary school, secondary schools and college. High schools and colleges are following progress too slowly in my opinion, especially since the robotization of most manufacturing activities is at the door. One will necessarily have to face the transformation of one’s profession, which is a great pressure on people who are not confident and motivated enough. And here, educational institutions should help guide people. And so on...
Miloš Šinkovec, Slovenija
Kunal Sevak
While the article is interesting, the title is misleading because at least one of the four "skills" listed by the authors is not a skill at all. Omniscience is not a skill, it's a phenomenon or a state of being. "Omniscience" is defined by the Oxford dictionary literally as "the state of knowing everything". Since no one can "know everything", omniscience cannot be cultivated (which is the hallmark of a "skill"). In other words, the term sounds grand and interesting, but there is no practical value to it. No employee or worker is going to read this article and think, "Hmm.. perhaps I should start building my omniscience".