• Wesley Boers

How to be(come) a future proof organization? Double down on human skills.

Disrupt from within or be disrupted. That’s very simply put, how this VUCA era can & will affect us all. Change is constant, progress is a choice. In today’s context this is a challenging balancing act. Things fly-by in a millisecond, we suffer from information overload and before we know it, we are out of the game. How should we approach this?

“If you do not know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Lewis Carroll

As technological change is occurring no longer at a linear but exponential rate, the half-life of necessary on-the-job skills is significantly decreasing; indicating we need to be able to learn faster and master more diverse skills sets. In other words, we all need to get used to having the curiosity, flexibility and capacity to keep up with this new & constant demand.

Human Skills – Focusing on the doing AND being

A great book, I recently discovered, talks exactly about this global challenge. “Deep Human”, written by Crystal & Dr. Gregor Lim-Lange. (

Rather investing in traditional cognitive skills, the key focus would be to double down on more social emotional “human” skills to boost your own learning curve & interconnectivity with others.

Based on in-depth research, the book puts the following 5 super skills in the spotlight:

1.    Focus – mindfulness

2.    Self-awareness

3.    Empathy

4.    Complex communication

5.    Adaptive resilience

Having focus is key nowadays as we are amidst increasing technology addiction & mass distraction. Self-aware people know when to keep a steady course and when to listen to other perspectives and opinions (i.e. being a constant learner). One of the most sought-after skills nowadays is empathy when we are building high performance teams and delivering customer (human) centered innovation. Having empathy is not sufficient if you’re not able to bring your message across in an ambiguous environment, this is where complex communication comes in. Wrapping the above 4 skills in a package of adaptive resilience (growth mindset) will harness your ability to increase your curiosity, flexibility and capacity to learn and grow.

Doubling down on culture – Culture is the game

How do you instill this human skill-oriented behavior in your organization? By putting it in the heart of your organization, in other words making it a fundamental part of your culture.

A great reference for building organizational culture is Michael Sahota, a world- renowned high performance and leadership expert. (

When changing your organizational culture, Michael S. indicates to take the following key steps into consideration:

1.    Desire for growth

2.    Know current culture

3.    Create a north star

4.    Culture grows locally

5.    Leaders go first

6.    Leadership growth required

In a nutshell drive change from desire instead of urgency as the latter often is linked to fear and less organizational safety. Know your organization’s history and current state before jumping into a new adventure. Often the past holds the answers to the struggles you are facing today. From this understanding, create your own new horizon without copying other examples (as copying will not drive a culture change). Roll out culture in a safe and smaller “bubble” vs. rolling it out across the organization. This to reduce tension and resistance. Finally, it’s critical that the change is embodied by leadership and NOT delegated, which reduces the chance of success drastically as organizational behavior follows leadership behavior.

Looking at the whole and the parts – Tapping into systemic wisdom

We are all taught to solve problems the minute they arrive. Analyze the problem, find the root cause and solve it. This approach has helped us tremendously over the years in many different areas. However, what to do when you see a certain pattern arising? When you cannot put your finger on the real root cause? Or trying different approaches did not bring the desired outcome?

This often can be a challenge during the course of an organizational shift. The situation we are facing has a more “wicked” nature with different known & unknown drivers at play.

Here it is worthwhile to zoom out and look at the whole and listen what the problem is trying to tell us. Often a problem needs to be understood rather than solved. This approach taps into the “systemic” wisdom of the organization. Where a system can be looked upon as a group of interdependent people with a common identity or function.

·     Who or what is not seen?

·     For whom or what is the current situation a good solution?

·     Which order is maintained?

·     What is the price the organization needs to pay to change? Who will pay this?

These types of questions help us to look at the issue from a more holistic point of view and gives several different (often deeper laying) entry points to help the ongoing organizational shift.

It’s a journey

Going forward, technological innovations will be able to take over the more “automated” jobs, however the human nature still has several key advantages, from creating deep connection & trust between people up to exceeding expectations by connecting seemingly disconnected dots.

In order to make your organization future proof, the upside sits in investing in the human potential of your organization. Shift your organizational culture in order to support this investment. Start from a common desire and follow your unique north star, listen to both the whole and parts on your journey forward.

Embody these changes yourself as leader, show your own desire for growth to connect with and stimulate others. For the latter, the good thing is, you can start immediately, and you do not need permission.

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