The advent and fallout of the global pandemic have vastly altered the rhythms of the modern workforce. And yet while businesses of today are marching onward into a new world, one thing has remained unchanged: the crucial and universal need for a soft skilled workforce.
Where the Oxford University Press defines soft skills as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people”, it would be no surprise to point to Human-Centered Thinking — which places people at the center of all processes and practices — as a perfect complement to this set of attributes.
Recently, Forbes.com identified the eight primary skills all workers will need to succeed in a post-Coronavirus world. While hard skills such as tech savviness and data literacy are included, all four of the soft skills identified can be directly associated with human-centered training, making the method a one-stop-shop for gaining the most crucial soft skills across any industry.
As quoted by Entrepreneur.com, “Whether a company requires a software developer or an interior designer, design thinking is identified as an essential skill irrespective of the job role.” In this particular time of crisis, the all-encompassing skill of Human-Centered Thinking (or Design Thinking) will not only drive innovation, but arm a workforce with the necessary tools to thrive both today and into the future.
Below we cover each of the soft skills identified by Forbes.com and examine the ways in which the human-centered method propels these skills to the forefront:
Adaptability and Flexibility
Over the course of a few months we have witnessed a seismic shift to our world that has impacted every facet of our personal and professional lives. Where rapid change has always been a byproduct of the modern marketplace, we are in the midst of a historic moment of adjustment — one that has highlighted adaptability and flexibility as skills that will be imperative for economic survival.
Thankfully, workforces who have embraced human-centered thinking have been long-since equipped to pivot and thrive in times of great change. They are nimble, forward-thinking and future-ready because they have empowered their employees to take risks without fear of failure and have placed the right people with the right expertise in the right positions. They are experts in the rapid generation of ideas and the development of low-fidelity prototypes — and thus are able to adapt and problem-solve for any new challenge that presents itself.
Creativity & Innovation
What has emerged from the wreckage of a disrupted landscape is the certainty that innovation will be the key to business survival and longevity. The advent of the pandemic has seen momentous innovation in rapid action — from the global, medical community rallying across the world in pursuit of a successful vaccine to small businesses pivoting their product delivery to suit the changing needs of customers.
Yet innovation with lasting impact relies on a genuine understanding of the essential and immediate needs of current or newly discovered customers. That understanding, in turn, relies on human-centered thinking. Human-centered thinking allows businesses to take a pulse of their customers and use these discoveries as a vital guide to achieving competitive, collaborative strategies that reap rapid and actionable results.
Where creativity and innovation will continue to be essential demands of post-pandemic companies, the human-centered method allows for the rapid and deep-rooted embedding of these skills.
Forbes.com states that “Professionals with strong skills in leadership, including how to bring out the best and inspire teams as well as encourage collaboration, will be in demand.” Here is yet another soft skill that is ignited and inspired by the facets of Human-Centered Thinking.
The HCT method makes it so that any leader, whether a CEO or a project manager, is able to champion and propel innovation through the challenges of a disrupted world. It does so by imploring a set of necessary mindsets that help leaders to engage and inspire their teams on a daily basis.
Times of great crisis call for great leadership — and the human-centered leader will stand out for his or her second-nature ability to rally individuals toward profound and remarkable innovation.
The ability to connect with people is particularly pressing in times of great uncertainty, and at no time in recent history has the future been more uncertain than it is today. Emotional intelligence — another skill required for post-pandemic success — could not be mastered without empathy. Fortunately, the human-centered method favors empathy as a crucial component of its process.
Design Thinking recognizes that empathy provides a direct channel to the needs and challenges of both its customers and workers, and as such, it devises ways for products, services and projects to address them.
By employing practices such as unbiased observation, engaging extreme users and putting oneself in the mindset of a beginner, human-centered training opens its practitioners up to a world of emotional intelligence, arming them to collaborate, communicate and innovate alongside future-facing workforces and the customers of tomorrow.