Asia School of Business

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Key Skills for a Successful Digital Transformation


In the last of three articles, Prof. Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business, lists the smart and sharp skills for successful digital transformation.

Smart skills are the skills required to work with people, sharp skills are required to work with machines. And one might ask, don’t we already call these skills ‘soft’ and ‘hard’? Yes, we do. But do you know why? The soft and hard skill terminology was coined in 1972 by a research team in the U.S. Army to differentiate people who were good at machine operations, coining these skills ‘hard’, from those who did well in people-related, supervision roles, coining them as ‘soft’ skills.

And since 1972, this ubiquitous terminology has served us well. But just like all other fields of study which get to constantly revise critical concepts, we believe that this terminology needs a fresh, new approach to reflect the current environment and in light of the roles that each play in our day-to-day lives. But you ask, is this just semantics? I know what you mean. Does it matter how we name the skills, as long as we have them?

But let’s think about this. Narratives are created over time; a few years back, ‘catfish’ was only a fish but in today’s vocabulary, it has a whole new meaning. I love this quote from UC San Diego Prof. Lera Boroditsky, a leading cognitive scientist in the fields of language and cognition and former faculty at MIT: “By choosing how you frame and talk about something, you are causing others to think about it in a specific way.

We can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.” For example, speaking of the word ‘soft’. Dictionaries define it as mild, gentle, and weak. But what’s soft about navigating competing perspectives and cultures, pitching high-stakes projects, and dealing with office politics?

How do smart and sharp skills link to digital transformation?

I believe that digital transformation is built on three pillars: strategic, operational and cultural and part of the cultural pillar which I address more extensively in this article is also bringing a new approach to training and upskilling. Many of the companies I work with ask: What skills do we need to develop in our organizations? And while the answer is a lot more complex than this interview allows, here are the top 10 smart and sharp skills I think are essential for starting the digital transformation journey.

Read the full article here.
This article was originally published on Business Chief APAC, a ‘Digital Community’ that connects the world’s largest brands and their most senior executives with the latest trends pivoting towards technology and digital transformation.