Potential & Conversational

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Potential and conversational.

Distributed Work & Soft Skills

What are the predominant soft skills when working anywhere, aka distributed work?

This is a question we had in our Perpetual Beta Coffee Club at the end of Spring 2020. Below is the take from the host of the PBCC, Harold Jarche, on distributed work.

tetrad of working from anywhere

Source: distributed work by Harold Jarche

What the heck are soft skills? Why are they essential in the context of distributed work?

“Soft skills separate humans from machines. They are permanent skills. For the past several centuries we have used human labour to do what machines cannot. First the machines caught up with us, and surpassed humans, with their brute force. Now they are surpassing us with their brute intelligence. There is not much more need for machine-like human work which is routine, standardized, or brute.

This requires a rethinking of how we categorize work, define jobs, attract and retain talent. It should be based on talent, not labour. It also means a rethinking of our entire education system. These permanent (soft) skills are not developed through standardized curriculum based on temporary (hard) skills. It’s time to take the long-term view on human work and learning. What was categorized as Labour is merely a temporary skill for market and technological conditions. Talent, or permanent skills, is our long-term value as humans to each other.“ ― @hjarche

I was involved in a startup to enable organizations and individuals to develop life skills in our modern and connected world.

Lately, I have noticed that soft skills development and evaluation themes resurface through my network and weak ties. As I tweeted:

How can we develop and [self-]evaluate soft skills, especially creativity, collaboration, communication, creativity? And cooperation? https://blog.learnlets.com/2021/04/evaluating-soft-skills

A question that has resurfaced in two learning and community projects as a tough challenge to tackle and explore.

I ponder what we did with our teams and learning communities in previous projects through questions. For example, is it worthwhile to assess soft skills in the workplace?

“Most soft skills deal with our relationships to others. The drive to individually behavioralize, then metricize, has the effect of killing relationships—an ironic outcome for relationship-targeting training.” — @CharlesHGreen

And those tweets I noticed:

“If you think that training can address what are called ‘soft skills’, then you are already going in the wrong direction.” — @hjarche

From Soft Skills to Power Skills

How about power skills instead of soft skills?

“I love the term ‘power skills’ instead of soft skills. Interestingly the roles needs are still listed as specific hard skills. To improve power skills, organizations are going to need therapists, psychologists, and community managers – not seeing that on anyone’s roadmap. https://twitter.com/ChrisMayer_WP/status/1330162129316556805” — @rhappe

What does your future/power skills galaxy look like? What are your power skills development strategy, roadmap, and action maps?

In my previous post about activation through the visual from a skills framework, I shared my current exploration in progress.

future skills research work learning leadership community management health mind futures thinking foresight visual rotana ty

Future Skills Map produced by Rotana Ty

Towards Your Power Skills Matrix

If we go deeper into each skills family, here are below each sub-skill you can consider developing and honing. Discover more through the hyperlink per sub-skill.

You may use this table to create your skills family and sub-skills puzzle with a rate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each sub-skill. The total score per skills family gives you a self-assessment and knowledge about your current state of skillsets you have.

Last but not least, you can do so every quarter, every half-year or year to observe your personal growth and the professional development needed.

Learning & Working Skillset
Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family
Personal Knowledge Mastery Working From Anywhere Innovation Learning Agility Mindsets
Sense-making Cross-cultural competency Novel and adaptive thinking 

Futures Thinking

Social learning Perpetual Beta
Social intelligence Design Mindset Computational thinking

Strategic thinking

Active learning & learning strategies Grit
New media literacy Distributed work Transdisciplinary




Mind management
Cognitive load management Complex problem-solving Rapid prototyping,

testing & iteration

Action learning Beyond the Growth Mindset

Sources that can help you create your table of learning and working skillsets:

The ten most important work skills

These are the top 10 job skills of tomorrow – and how long it takes to learn them | World Economic Forum

PKM Workshop | Harold Jarche

Community Management Skillset
Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family Skills Family
Content Engagement Business Strategy Technical
Communication planning Listening & analyzing Program management Community strategy development System admin & configuration
Writing Response & escalation Business Model Development Roadmap development Data collection & analysis
Graphics & Design Moderation & conflict facilitation Budget & financial management Policy & guideline development Tools evaluation & recommendations
Multimedia production Promoting productive behaviours Team hiring & management Needs & competitive analysis Technical support
Narrative development Empathy & members’ support Contractor hiring & management Measurement, benchmarking & reporting Member database management
Editing Facilitating connections Selling, influencing & evangelizing Trendspotting & synthesizing Platform architecture & integration
Curation New members recruitment Community advocacy & promotion Consulting Technology issue resolution
Program & event planning New member welcoming Training development & delivery Executive coaching Software & application programming
Taxonomy & tagging management Member advocacy Vendor management Content strategy development UX & Design
SEO & internal search optimization Behaviour change & gamification Governance management Evaluating engagement techniques Algorithm design & data manipulation

The source that can help you to create your table of community management skillsets:

Community Skills Framework™ by The Community Roundtable

From Skills to Capabilities

What if the lens of skills needs to be taken to another level? Capability, capacity, context, conversation, community, choice, and cultivating conditions. Anne Marie Rattray dives deep with her article. An extract:


I have been thinking and writing about developing skills in the flow of work but wondered recently watching ‘Tomorrow’s teams today: Building capabilities needed to transform’, from the McKinsey Academy, if my focus on skills is perhaps misplaced. Should I be talking about capability instead? The reason I had focused on skills is because I see them as an outcome of action and applied knowledge, which in turn depend on capability and capacity.”

After much mulling, I prefer to follow the McKinsey Academy’s lead and talk about capability. It suggests potential for action. Plus, capability is more encompassing. It applies to both individuals and organisations.”

“(…) Capacity

If capability is about potential for action, capacity is about the conditions that enable potential to be realised. People need capacity – personal and organisational – to be able to build capability. That means time, space and place, energy, opportunity, freedom, plus access to social networks, resources, technologies, and performance support systems.” Anne Marie Rattray

Where do working from anywhere and cultivating capability start?

No easy answer, right? Perhaps, it starts with actionable insights from a fellow seeker and PBCC community member, Luis Suarez:

WFA [Work From Anywhere] extends individual labour, obsolesces the office, retrieves the written word, and could reverse into digitally connected sweatshops.’

That’s quite a punch line Harold Jarche has put together on this fine blog post 👉🏻 https://bit.ly/3xd3CUk reflecting on #DistributedWork.

‘The best way to communicate with a distributed team is in writing, especially when you factor in multiple time zones. Good writing skills will become critical in a distributed workplace.’

Couldn’t have agreed more with that statement, although I’d also add #SenseMaking (a la #PKMastery) will become just as critical to today’s digital workplace. Why? Well, read below 👇🏻

‘In 2020 Prodoscore looked at 90,000 data points from 7,000 workers. One interesting finding was that high performers regularly used voice & video less often than low performers. The tool of choice for high performers was messaging & chat’.

Talking about re-thinking the purpose of one’s work in a distributed workplace! Whoaaah! Video/Voice alone, indeed, are not longer good enough.

Mastering the art of facilitating two-way conversations is where the game is at … (It always has been all along! 😅👍🏻)” ― @elsua

So how do you master the art of conversation while working and learning from anywhere?

“Conversation is made up of the specific components of Listening, Validation, Understanding and Care. Each of these is rife with personal and cultural constructs which then need to be extended in the interpersonal construct which represents the shared space of the conversation.

Simplify all this in the plainest English possible and you start off with the personal need to improve your condition which activates your motivation. This is then expressed through the higher level interaction of social interactivity which elicits cooperation, understanding, empathy and trust.

All of these represent distinct, complementary and overlapping neurochemical states that are accompanied by biochemical changes. Conversations, in short, can change our minds, rewire our brains, alter our perspective and redefine our perception of how we see the world and ourselves in it. Whether in-person or remote via our technology the effect is virtually the same. This has deep implications in marketing and branding as well as in our personal lives.

And it all begins with a simple “Let’s Talk.” — David Amerland

Potential & Conversational

Community Management helps propel your internal community and scale engagement to keep learning and innovating with your organization’s ecosystem.

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