In a changing world with growing reliance on Artificial Intelligence, algorithms hacking our lives and whole industries being disrupted overnight, what skills will matter most for work, business and life in the future? How can you future proof yourself, your organisation and your kids?
In the new book, Forever Skills, best-selling authors Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory have written a practical, research-based guide on the 12 'forever skills' you need to get ahead in business and life regardless of what's changing around us. Interviewing hundreds of successful business people, educators, futurists, economist and historians, Kieran and Dan reveal the key skills we need to develop in ourselves, our workplaces and our children that will always be critical to success in business and in life. Readers learn the key 12 skills:
• Creativity: Insight, Conversion, Problem Solving & Agility
• Communication: Influence, Team Building, Trust & Translation
• Control: Self-control, Resource management, Order & Implementation
It's time to look beyond the things changing around us and focus on the things that won't change within us. Practical and accessibly written, Forever Skills empowers you with the knowledge needed to future proof yourself and those around you for a successful future.
Kieran Flanagan is a global thought leader in commercial creativity and Dan Gregory is an expert in behavioural strategy. They are the strategic and creative team behind the most successful new product launch in Australian history, have helped entrepreneurs build internationally successful businesses and worked with some of the world's most influential organisations.
Authors: Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory
Question: What inspired you to write Forever Skills?
Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory: We spend most of our professional time working with leaders and teams develop the skills to survive industry disruption or else trying to navigate unprecedented change in their marketplace or community. Our default, and very human, response to change is usually suspicion and often panic. We thought this was a rather limited view of change. In fact, what we realised is that most people are so focussed on "What is changing" that they often neglect "What needs changing" and just as importantly, "What is unchanging". This last of the "3 Spheres of Change" gets very little attention despite a raft of change management research that tells us that linking change to the familiar is critical to its success. It also aligns rather nicely with Dr Stephen Covey's priorities matrix and the "Not urgent but important" quadrant. In other words, the more we invest in what will be unchanging, the more resourced we are to tackle the other two spheres of change. So we decided someone needed to find a place of calm and control in change because it's not going away. We seriously considered plagiarising Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy blurb which simply read, "Don't panic!"
Question: If we learn just one skill from Forever Skills, what should it be and why?
Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory: Gosh, tough question! We broke the 12 Forever Skills into three categories: 1. Creative Skills, 2. Communication Skills and 3. Control Skills. Each is important and has played a role in human success throughout history and are predicted to remain important regardless of how technology changes technical skills needs. So perhaps the best answer to this question is to let the reader decide based on where they think they need to skill up the most. Too often we tell people to play to their strengths, however, what truly lifts our performance is our capacity to turn our weaknesses into competence or even assets. After all, that is where our greatest improvement lies. For example, Dan was a terrible presenter and communicator as a younger man so he spent three years travelling the world as a stand up comedian and became bullet proof in his communication skills. He now speaks and trains in front of thousands of people for a living. Kieran, on the other hand, tends to be a little too optimistic when it comes to available time for a project, so she sets deadlines, milestones and systems for herself to keep herself productive and accountable and in doing so, increases her control skills.
Question: Which of the skills featured in Forever Skills is the most necessary for kids?
Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory: Again, it is really dependent on the child. What you may notice though is that creativity, communication and control have been noticeably absent from the curriculum historically (although we're told this is currently being rectified to some extent). What tends to happen in education is that we focus on our own biases and rarely look at our blindspots (much like playing to our strengths). So understanding that all three of these are critical skills categories, perhaps the most intelligent strategy is to support our kids in the areas that they find most challenging or unnatural. Education should be less about classifying kids as either smart or not smart and more about helping them feel competent and confident in the critical life skills they will need forever.
Question: How can we learn the skill of self-control, today?
Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory: The most important part of self-control is self-awareness. In our work, we spend a lot of time helping people develop behavioural strategies that either lift performance or increase engagement and what we've learned is that design beats discipline and motivation. Discipline works in the short term but creating a system or process that makes success easier and failure more difficult is far more long lasting. To do this, however, we must first be aware of our own behavioural "breakage points". These are the friction points or moments of small failure that amplify if we don't engineer a "fix" that makes success more predictable. A great example of this is forced savings - if you have a regular amount deducted from your salary (before you see it) and put into an investment account (that you have limited access to), you will tend to save more... and keep it! This plays out in every area of our life. So self-control is really a capacity to understand ourselves and create structures, environments and systems that work with who we are, not who we wish we were.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Authors: Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory