According to the World Economic Forum, the skills most needed now and in the future are critical thinking, complex problem solving, and creativity. These are the key skills that will unlock the opportunities of the future.
These skills teach us to:
- think for ourselves
- think contextual and situational
- think outside the box
But why are these so critical?
First of all, because of the internet. We have access to so much information and so many opinions – both relevant and irrelevant, real and fake. We need to be able to navigate through it, form our own opinion on topics, and connect facts in meaningful ways to achieve our goals.
Second of all, machines will soon automate a large part of current jobs, thereby placing a stronger emphasis on soft skills like those above. We will have the opportunity to focus more on creative, innovative, and social competencies instead of mechanical ones. Artificial Intelligence can easily outperform us in many fields already, but when it comes to the less clear and more fluffy tasks such as defining a clear problem statement, creating a vision, or using our imagination, we humans are (still) unbeatable.
So how do you develop, use and master these skills?
Critical Thinking 🧠
Critical thinking is the practice of analyzing a situation on the basis of the factual information related to it. It enables us to understand a topic objectively without being influenced by feelings, opinions, or biases of ourselves and of others. If we consider developing a solution to a problem, we may easily be led to start something that perhaps excites us, but that doesn’t offer an attractive and real solution.
How to Think Critically
- Research a topic thoroughly before forming an opinion. Which factors are involved in the situation or topic you’re dealing with? What’s relevant to know about them? Be curious!
- Reflect upon which biases might influence your opinions. We all have certain biases that affect our thinking. What beliefs might be guiding your worldview?
- Distill the relevant facts to form an objective conclusion.
Complex Problem-Solving 🧶
The world is full of complex problems that need solutions. Climate change, poverty, world hunger, discrimination. All of these issues possess high complexity, as they depend on a large number of variables that need to be considered.
How to Solve Complex Problems
- Define a problem. What issue do you want to solve? What components go into that issue?
- Brainstorm to find a large set of solutions. Test them with users as quickly as possible to gain data that you can analyze using critical thinking.
- Based on your testing, select a solution and develop it further using creativity. 👇
Old solutions to new problems rarely make sense. We need fresh ideas to solve the global challenges of the future. Creativity is the source of innovation. For a long time, we have thought of creativity as something you’re either born with or not. That’s not the case. Creativity is a skill you can practice just like any other skill 🌈. And often, when we collaborate with others, creativity emerges by itself.
How to Use Creativity
- Imagine if anything were possible – how would you solve your problem? Technology can achieve a lot more already than we think, and will be able to do even more in just a couple of years. Imagine the possibilities!
- Brainstorm by saying “yes and…” – don’t stop ideas, keep on generating new ones by elaborating on details, creating variations, considering different aspects. Often, the longer you brainstorm, the more creative your ideas get.
It’s no longer enough to memorize facts, blindly follow authorities, and do as we have always done. The world needs people who think and act differently, independently, and responsibly. The world needs pirates 🏴☠️!
So hone those three skills and you’ll be kick-ass ready for the future.