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10 Workplace Skills That Are Increasingly Important To Your Success

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Recently the Institute for the Future published a study* identifying key workplace skills that are essential for professional success. The IFTF believes that there are 10 skills that top the list. While I might use different words to describe these skills (from my point of view the terms were created to be “different” versus readily understandable) there is little doubt of their value. Here’s the list…


  1. Sensemaking – the ability to connect things in order to create new ideas. In other words, the ability to look at disparate sources of information and identify patterns in ways that enable you to connect the dots into something meaningful.
  2. Social Intelligence – the ability to connect with people through influence and relationship-building with an eye toward asking the right questions – not having all the answers.
  3. Novel and Adaptive Thinking – continuous investment in your skills, getting outside your comfort zone, and rapidly adapting to a changing environment with a focus on creating value.
  4. Cross-Cultural Competencies – many of us work within global ecosystems every day (partners, distributors, vendors, co-workers, etc.). This requires an aptitude for empathizing and adjusting our communication style in order to achieve more effective collaboration.
  5. Computational Thinking (Translation: Analytical Thinking) – data is everywhere. The ability to synthesize vast amounts of data into something meaningful will become ever more important as we have access to increasing amounts of raw data.
  6. New Media Competence – new media has changed the way we communicate information. This evolution in communication will require that each of us becomes fluent in digital and social media forms of communication.
  7. Transdisciplinary – companies are in need of generalists with new and agile skills that can see the big picture across an expansive landscape.
  8. Design Mindset – is about focusing on human values and developing a deep understanding of problems that we can solve in order to improve the human condition.
  9. Cognitive Load Management (Translation: Time Management) – the ability to filter and focus large amounts of information with the goal of deciding where best to invest your time.
  10. Virtual Collaboration – engaging with globally distributed teams in virtual environments is a necessity today and will increase in importance tomorrow.


My take is that product professionals are more ready than most to adapt to this new world as many of these competencies are already required for our collective success. It is unlikely that any one individual will possess all of these skills in abundance. However, if we build our product development teams to encompass all these skills it is highly probable that we will be more successful. Thankfully,many teams are already doing so.

* Source: Are You Ready? Here are the Top Ten Skills for the Future. Reuven Gorsht (SAP)

Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management. 

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