I came across an article in Forbes* about the future of work. The article states that the pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again. In the future, the article says, that there will be a blended workforce of humans and robots. In this future, human skills will move from linear to Z-shaped.

The Future of Skills Will Move from Linear to Z-shaped Skills

This notion of developing cross-functional skills is not new, in fact, the notion of “T” shaped skills was first described in 1991. “T” shaped individuals combine both a depth and breadth of skills possessing deep functional expertise with well-honed social skills to collaborate across disciplines.

But today, the focus is moving beyond T shaped skills to the development of broader skills in what I have coined, “Z-shaped skills.” Z-shaped skills combine deep business & digital literacy with soft skills of the Five C’s: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communications, Cultural Fluency and Change Management along with a focus on Creativity and Innovation.

The forerunner of this commitment to the intersection between business, technology, and design capabilities was Steve Jobs. As Steve Jobs once said, “The Macintosh turned out so well because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets, and historians – who also happened to be computer scientists.”

Creativity and critical thinking as key human capabilities needed in the workplace of the future, one where machines will handle problem-solving while humans focus on problem finding.

This point of view is reinforced by a survey of a population of global managers and leaders. When they were asked the most important skill for leaders to succeed in a digital workplace, only 18% of respondents listed technological skills as most important. Instead, they highlighted having a transformative vision, demonstrating collaborative skills, being a forward thinker, and having a change-oriented mindset.


* Jeanne Meister: The Future Of Work: Humans + Gigs + Robots Are The New Blended Workforce, Forbes; Mar 14, 2019

Categories: Future Work, Technology, Education


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Karl Skaar
Karl Skaar

Is a highly successful professional, with a high degree of entrepreneurial flair. Among the many different roles, he is the chief editor of the Lucubrate Magazine.

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