This report by the Institute for the Future describes 10 work skills that will be very important in the next decade: sense making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management & virtual collaboration. We weren’t very surprised to notice that 5 out of the 10 skills have something to do with questioning. Here’s a graphical representation of the skills and the 6 drivers that “will reshape the workforce landscape”
Even though all these skills will surely be very important, which ones will be critical, in your opinion? Is there anything important missing from the list? Also, will we all need these skills, no matter where we work and what we do? Nowadays, if you work in manufacturing, new media literacy may not be that important – will this change in the next decade?
We recently found an excerpt of David Harrah’s book “What Should We Teach about Questions?” which discusses “the theory of questions and the logic of questions, and why educators should be interested in them”
The following phrase caught our attention: “By the time of entering college, the student has some idea of the relative importance of questions, and the relative importance of different kinds of answer.”
If that’s the case, it would mean that most people should understand the importance of asking questions at work and be capable of distinguishing between useful and vague answers. Still, it seems that more often than not, we avoid asking too many questions at work and we tend to accept unsatisfactory answers.
Why does this happen? Should we (re)teach the importance of questions to employees?
We recently found this article which describes how “the legitimation of formal, ‘evidence-based’ scientific knowledge about parenting within nursing and midwifery can have the effect of replacing and discrediting embodied, informal and culturally located ways of knowing and learning” The article questions knowledge transfer in healthcare, which is done mostly as “a unidirectional movement from expert professional knowledge providers towards the consumers of that knowledge”
Something similar happens in business, where people acquire knowledge from experts which are either the teachers in business school or the more experienced colleagues at work. Is this way of transferring knowledge efficient? Does it exclude knowledge that our teachers or co-workers may not not have but may prove useful to you?
Is this type of knowledge transfer too subjective? One definition of knowledge (shown in the diagram below) states that knowledge is found at the intersection between truths and beliefs, but what some people believe may not be relevant to others, therefore what some consider to be valuable knowledge may not have the same importance to those who are supposed to benefit from it.
What do you think? What is the best way to transfer knowledge? How do we make sure that we transfer knowledge that is really useful and objective? Can questioning help?