One future-proof skill you need to master (hint – it has to do with problems and thinking)

Creative thinking in problem solving

“The kids today will have jobs that don’t exist right now.

I have been hearing this quite often recently.

If you are just starting out on your career, it applies to you too.  Your future requires a different type of thinking.  This is not a new phenomenon though. We have needs for job-skills today that wasn’t there 30 years ago.

The difference is the rate of change has increased multiple-fold.

So what can we teach in school and colleges today that can prepare them for something we don’t even know yet?

Specialisation with generalised skills

We were all about specialisation which is still important.  I wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of a ‘general expert‘. The body of knowledge in all subject matters must and will continue to advance.

However, the future needs something more.  The approach will be a combination of broad application skills on top of expertise that is important. One such skill is creative thinking in problem-solving.

Harvard lecturer, Vikram Mansharamani, PhD, wrote about this  here.

Creative Thinking in Problem-Solving

Problems occur. When they do, take it as opportunities to improve behaviour, habits, instructions, and relationships. Problem solving is a skill.

The nature of the problems can be small, huge, simple or complex. You need the right set of skills and tools to analyze the problem before starting out of solving it. Even fire-fighting require some analysis first.

To solve problems, you need to understand root cause analysis and creative thinking. They go hand-in–hand. There are many tools that you can learn to use for different parts of the process.

Among them are:

    • Fishbone: Also known as Ishikawa cause-and-effect diagram. It is commonly used for product design and quality defect prevention. It helps to identify potential factors causing an overall effect.
    • TIMWOOD: A root-cause analysis tool for the seven wastes of manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement philosophy promoting system-wide  efficiency. TIMWOOD is a waste-reducing method that affects production plans, manufacturing, and customer relations.
    • Six Thinking Hats: A framework created by Edward de Bono to help people think clearly and thoroughly by adopting diversity.
    • Morphological Analysis: A method for exploring  and putting together all possible solutions to a multi-dimensional, non-quantified problem.
    • TRIZ: The Russian acronym for  “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,”  (TIPS in English). This system of creativity was developed in the U.S.S.R.  by engineer and scientist Genrich S. Altshuller and his colleagues. It is is a problem-solving philosophy based on logic, data and research, rather than on intuition. 

         (Fun Fact: Six Sigma quality improvement processes often make use of TRIZ.)

    • SCAMPER: A method that provides a structured way to think out-of -the-box and enhance knowledge.  It an activity-based thinking process which combines and adjust ideas formulated in the process.

These are a few of the more popular tools used today. They can be used in combination with each other as well.

Learn more more about these skills. Type ‘SPEED‘ into your subject line.


About the Author: After almost  20 years in management, Gina Phan is now a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in sales, business communication, negotiations, and creative thinking in problem-solving. Click here to contact her, follow her on Facebook or connect with her on Linkedin.

Read her other posts.

#trainergina #ginaphan #creativethinking #problemsolving #gp

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