Businesses must adapt a new mindset to remain competitive

Today’s knowledge workers must go beyond the current needs of the economy and focus on the skills organizations will need in the future.

Here are two of the most essential skills of the future workforce:

Social intelligence

Social intelligence is the capability to both read the thinking and emotions of others quickly in each context, and connect deeply with them to stimulate reactions and persuade them to engage with you in the pursuit of the desired results.

Workers of the future will see a shift from the dominance of technical intelligence to social intelligence as a sought-after aptitude.

The socially intelligent leader must change the context in ways that encourage collaboration across these focused but dispersed groups to create the innovations key to the organization’s success.

These new contexts must support knowledge work dominated by Velcro relationships. Like the material itself, these are relationships that come together quickly and are very strong and useful, but which can also break apart quickly leaving no damage.

The best managers and leaders of the future will possess social intelligence so they and their teams can switch contexts quickly and connect deeply with others. This ability is called “the art of the deep bump.”

This is a person who, upon briefly “bumping” into someone critical to their project, can form a relationship that resonates deeply enough to lead to productive and innovative solutions. It must be strong enough to assure that team members will not fall back into fragmented and disaggregated realities before the solutions have been delivered.


This is the capability of an individual knowledge worker to understand, communicate and create new ideas alone using his or her own knowledge from multiple disciplines while simultaneously solving problems.

This skill best represents the age of the combinatorial worker, where the most sought-after person is one who can integrate deep knowledge from more than one technical specialty as well as from social, anthropological and environmental sources.

The trans-disciplinary knowledge worker is then able to utilize this knowledge to analyze issues and develop novel solutions.

Two factors are important to clarify with this skill: First, it requires more than a cross-disciplinary approach of assembling several people from separate disciplines to solve problems or innovate.

The demands of today’s new distributed context for work needs the efficiency of a trans-disciplinary worker frequently. Second, it is important that a combinatorial worker be fluent, and have true literacy in (rather than just familiarity) with the different disciplines they are engaging in during their creative thinking process.

Parting thought

The skills that have served us even in the recent past are rapidly becoming obsolete. We must develop these new skill sets in order to survive and thrive as we navigate out of the badlands.

There will be greater emphasis on how we interact with technology and data, as well as the changing manner in which we interact with one another. For those with these capabilities, the future looks bright.