Competencies of the future – the ability to work deep

Competencies of the future – the ability to work deep

May 27, 2024 IPI 0

The ability to do deep work is becoming increasingly rare, meanwhile its value to our economy is increasing.

Predicting the solutions of the future

The longtime chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, has often emphasized during his lectures how extremely important it is in business and in building a great brand to “stand with one foot in the present and the other in the future.” It’s obvious that every manager must be focused on the current operational activities of the organization, as well as the current external economic circumstances. All of these activities are important to the success of the company. However, “creating the future in the moment of now” is equally important. We can’t physically be anywhere but in the present, and it is our current thinking about the future that largely determines current choices and actions. Hence, it becomes so important to look as far into the future as possible, to plan the long-term direction my business is headed, as well as to plan the steps to achieve the desired results. But what to do when the post-pandemic future is not very clear? And the unknown can be anxiety-inducing. It is worth considering the answers to the questions: Where is the industry as a whole and its connected sectors headed? What are the conditions for business now, and what conditions for business may arise over the course of months and several years? What is the role of the manager at the current time and what competencies should a top manager have after a pandemic?

To help find answers to these questions, a manager can analyze current trends such as the assumptions of the fourth industrial revolution. According to Klaus Schwab, author of the term and founder and president of the World Economic Forum, whether we want it or not, we have already begun to participate in the process of successive, powerful changes in the world at the turn of the century.

Revolution 4.0

The first industrial revolution, based on water and steam power, which mechanized industrial production, was experienced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The second industrial revolution used electricity, and its symbol became the light bulb. The third revolution came with the introduction of computers into industry and the automation of processes. The fourth revolution is based on smart, connected technology not only within organizations, but also in everyday life. Its essence is the transfer of most decisions from the responsibility of humans, to the competence of machines, and the blurring of the boundaries between the biological and the digital. The main driving forces behind these changes include: Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles or advanced robotization.

As a result of these trends, new business models or disruptive innovations are emerging that accelerate changes in the customer value chain, e.g.: production system, transportation or delivery methods. These trends also have a major impact on societies and cultures. Therefore, we cannot pretend that these changes will somehow bypass us. Failure to respond to them could mean for a company, to be left far behind or even excluded. The industrial revolution will also force another strong trend in the process of educating managers or ways of thinking in business, as well as leading an organization.

Practice skills that require deep thinking

We live in an age of constant distraction from things that require cognitive effort. We use “instinctive” and easy-to-use devices, computer programs. We write less and less by hand, and use faster computers instead. As a result, we’re also more likely to do easier and shallow things that don’t require memorization or cause-and-effect reasoning skills.
According to MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, technology is rushing forward, meanwhile many of our skills and methods of organization are lagging behind. We are noticing that technology is improving. The gap between human and machine skills is beginning to widen. Employers may also be more willing to hire new, cheaper-to-maintain technology instead of people. Therefore, to continue to be an attractive employee and deliver high value to the organization all the time, a manager needs the ability to learn new and often difficult things quickly. In other words, in order to be successful, you need to give much more of yourself than average, and this requires in-depth work, thinking and concentration.

Deep work is work activities performed in a state of concentration with maximum use of cognitive abilities. These activities create new values, promote skill improvement and are difficult to repeat. Examples include creating different scenarios or future consequences from present decisions, writing a dissertation or article, or creating completely new solutions in business management. However, the ability to do deep work is becoming increasingly rare, meanwhile its value to our economy is increasing. Therefore, the few who acquire this skill and make it the basis of their professional lives will succeed.

The new face of personal branding?

Thanks to above-average skills, difficult to replicate and worked out through deep engagement of the mind, we are able to increase the demand for our own services in our specialty and so become a “superstar” from highly skilled workers. During the pandemic, thanks to communication tools, distance no longer matters so much, and new technologies have made it possible to work on the other side of the world without leaving your own living room. It is increasingly profitable for companies to hire “superstars” in their field from the farthest corners of the world. What matters are the skills and solutions offered by outstanding professionals. It is important to expand the ability to learn complex things and the ability to create solutions at the highest level in terms of quality and speed.

A prerequisite for success is also high communication competence, which is one of the key elements of a personal brand because every idea, product or concept needs to be well connected with the recipient. Good communication is another competency of a manager, thanks to which he can successfully develop his personal brand and find himself more effectively in the new economic reality.

  1. K. Schwab – The fourth industrial revolution
    2.E. Brynjolfsson, A. McAfee – Race against the machines
    3.4.5 C.Newport – Deep work

Author Anna Modrzewska

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