A year ago I posted about an FT article in which "soft skills", a phrase that makes most people in learning and development wince, was re-explained as "robot-proof skills". The point was that in a complex, rapidly changing and increasingly digital world the skills we should be prioritising are those that are at the core of our 'humanness', skills like critical thinking, curiosity, emotional intelligence and creativity.
This message made total sense to me and it led to me creating the Ropes & Gray Robot Proofing for Lawyers skills programme, which we launched in London earlier this year.
The programme focuses on skills that will always be valuable regardless of the political, social or economic climate around us. Not only that but, as we are learning right now, these are also the skills that give us an edge in responding to change.
'Robot Proofing' has been running for five months now, and we've had sessions on growth mindset, effective collaboration and courage in challenging times. Upcoming sessions include emotional intelligence, design thinking and inclusive communication. Most of these were planned before the pandemic struck, but couldn't have been more timely.
Along with the bad news of the last couple of months there have been wonderful stories of individuals and organisations rising above and coming together (at least virtually) to achieve incredible feats of humanity and human ingenuity. And within Ropes & Gray I have been impressed by the many examples of adaptability, creativity and fast-paced collaboration to support both our own and the wider community.
The HBR article below talks about this adaptability as being "people-led and technology-supported". As we rely on technology more than ever, both to work from home and to find scientific solutions out of this crisis, we must invest in developing these robot-proof skills because, as we have seen, they are not nice-to-haves. They are essential to adapting and thriving in this constantly changing and uncertain world.
As the last several weeks have demonstrated, we are agile as a global community. This agility has been people-led and technology-supported. Human beings are the common denominator to the concept of future proofing, whether it’s as a complement to the technology being unleashed for remote working, or whether it’s because we possess the soft skills and leadership needed to navigate a historic crisis, or because we have the insights needed to drive slow success or fast failure for a cure. It all starts with each and every one of us, and those we are responsible for developing. The key is to nurture curiosity, so we have options, even outside of a crisis.