Four Basic Skills for 2020

In 2011, The Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix published a report that looked at Future Work Skills 2020 (PDF). The report identified six drivers of change. I’ve added links to examples of each, three years later.

  1. Longevity, in terms of the age of the workforce and customers — Retiring Later
  2. Smart machines, to augment and extend human abilities — Workplace Automation
  3. A computational world, as computer networks connect — Internet of Things
  4. New media, that pervade every aspect of life — Online Privacy
  5. Superstructed organizations, that scale below or beyond what was previously possible — AirBNB
  6. A globally connected world, with a multitude of local cultures and competition from all directions — Geek Nation

Ten future work skills were derived from these drivers and these were seen to be critical for success in the emerging network era workplace. Recently, a relatively simple infographic was published to show the relationship between these drivers and skills [it’s too bad they do not clearly cite their source]. It reminded me of the need to develop new workplace disciplines.

Of these 10 skills, four are of particular interest to me, as they compose the essence of personal knowledge mastery. In my Seek > Sense > Share framework, sense-making is usually the most difficult to master. It takes time and practice to develop routines of critical thinking combined with ways to not just process knowledge but create something new. For me, it’s blogging that forms the keystone of my sense-making. For others, it may be talking out loud while driving. Weaving a network that brings diversity of opinions and depth of knowledge is how effective seeking leads to better sense-making. For example, I am constantly following/unfollowing on Twitter in an attempt at optimal filtering; an impossible but worthwhile goal. I look for experts who share their knowledge or act as human-powered content aggregators, selecting quality information and discarding the crap.

Social intelligence comes through sharing our work and interacting with others, some of whom may be on similar knowledge journeys. Finding fellow knowledge seekers can be very helpful and online social networks can make these connections easier to find.

Sense-making: Longevity | Social Intelligence: Longevity; Global

The practice of PKM helps to develop media literacy as you seek knowledge from various networks, try different media tools, use them to communicate and share with others. Knowledge in a networked society is different from what many of us grew up with in the pre-Internet days. While books and journal articles are useful in codifying what we have learnt, knowledge is becoming a negotiated  agreement amongst connected people.

Media Literacy: Longevity; Media; Superstructed | Cognitive Load: Superstructed; Global; Media

Media Literacy: Longevity; Media; Superstructed | Cognitive Load: Superstructed; Global; Media

Like electricity, knowledge is both particles and current, or stock and flow. The increasing importance of fluid knowledge requires a different perspective on how we think of it and use it. If change is constant, then the half-life of codified knowledge (stock) decreases. We see this with the increasingly combative debates on intellectual property expressed as copyright which are vestiges of an economy dominated by knowledge as stock. The digital world is bumping against the analog world and we are currently caught in-between.

The only way to navigate this change is collaboratively. Part of cognitive load management is off-loading some of it to our network. No one has the right answer, but together we can explore new models of sense-making and knowledge-sharing. We should find others who are sharing their knowledge flow and in turn contribute our own. PKM is not about being a better digital librarian, or curator, it’s about becoming a participating member of a networked society.

7 Responses to “Four Basic Skills for 2020”

  1. Mara

    These 4 skills feel big. And in translating what they may look like in the workplace I don’t feel so overwhelmed. We’re doing part of it already and I remind myself we don’t have to deliver a finished product (a whole system) we can grow it organically. Thanks for the inspiration.


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