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You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

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Millennium Workforce Specialist Finds Solution to Soft Skills Gap

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine, Part 3

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine, Part 2

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine

Disturbing period of transition, part 4

Millennium Workforce Specialist Finds Solution to Soft Skills Gap

Employers have been complaining about candidates lacking soft skills for decades. Candidates may have all the right skills, but the ongoing problem is that they lack soft skills. Soft skills include virtually all non-technical skills, such as communication skills, verbal and written, as well as social skills (interactional, team-building and dress).  

Here are a few common complaints managers voice about employees lack of soft skills:
-    They don't know how to behave professionally. 
-    They arrive late, leave early, dress inappropriately, and spend too much time on social media.
-    They know how to text, but they don't know how to write a memo.
-    They don't know what to say and what not to say or how to behave in meetings.
-   They don't know how to think, learn, or communicate without checking a device.
-   They don't have enough respect for authority and don't know the first thing about good citizenship, service, or teamwork.

Soft skills may be harder to define and measure than hard skills, but they are just as critical, say experts.

People get hired because of their hard skills but often get fired because of their soft skills, according to millennial workforce specialist Bruce Tulgan. Tulgan is the author of the recently published “Bridging The Soft Skills Gap, How To Teach The Basics To Today’s Young Talent.”

In a 2014 FoxBusiness interview, Jody Miller, CEO of management consulting firm Business Talent Group, said that the pace of business today makes it tough for companies to justify taking the time to properly train new hires lacking soft skills. “Globalization and advancements in technology means the productivity and efficiency demanded from workers is higher, adding pressure to new workers,” said Miller. And “the expectations of entry-level employees and what they need to contribute is higher than ever before.”

Our educational system has tried to correct the problem, but has yet to achieve that goal, Tulgan said.

Based on more than 20 years of research, Tulgan offers concrete solutions to help managers teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership — complete with 92 step-by-step lesson plans designed to be highly flexible and easy to use.

The key to teaching young people the missing soft skills lies in breaking those skills down into their component parts and concentrating on one component at a time with the help of a teaching-style manager, said Tulgan. 

Almost all of the exercises can be done in less than an hour within a team meeting or an extended one-on-one. The exercises are easily modified and customized and can be used in many different ways, such as:
- As "take-home” exercises for any individual or group
- To guide one-on-one discussions with direct reports 
- In the classroom as written exercises or in group discussions

Managers — and their young employees — will find themselves returning to their favorite exercises over and over again, said Tulgan. Through one exercise at a time, managers can build up the most important soft skills of their new young talent. These critical soft skills can make the difference between mediocre and good, great, and one-of-a-kind skills, he added.   

Posted on: January 29, 2016 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine, Part 3

The Futurist’s 2015-2016 predictions prove that almost anything is possible in this high-tech world of ours.  Yet many of the publication’s past predictions are a long way from the drawing board.  Yet, when reading about them, I wonder how many years — or maybe months — they are from coming to fruition. As an example, here are a few of The Futurist’s 2013 predictions. Some seem impossible to achieve.  But I’m sure skeptics said the same thing about Apple’s iPhone when it was in its early development phases.  How fast will I be proven wrong? Here are a few examples:

  • Neuroscientists will soon be able to predict what you’ll do before you do it. 
    This one sounds like it was pulled from a Ridley Scott film.  The intent to do something, such as grab a cup, produces a blood flow to specific areas of the brain, report Futurist researchers.  By studying blood-flow patterns through neuroimaging, scientists can get a better idea of what people have in mind.  A possible application, according to scientists at the University of Western Ontario, is improved prosthetic devices that respond to signals from the brain like actual limbs do.
  • Aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen.
    Tomorrow’s farmers may be homeowners recycling their food waste in their own aquariums, reports The Futurist.  This one seems beyond comprehension.  Not to SUNY’s ecological engineers who are developing an aquaponic system that uses leftover foods to feed a tank of fish whose waste would be used for growing vegetables. If successful, there would be less food waste, and the cost of raising fish would be dramatically reduced.
  • While technology eliminates jobs, there will be plenty of work in the future.
    Tomorrow’s workers will be developing a variety of skills that could keep them working productively. How is that possible? By finding out what needs to be done and doing it. If we’re unable to bring back the thousands of manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past several decades, how could this be done? I found the hypothetical projections confusing.  Maybe I’m missing the point. To learn more, read http://www.wfs.org/content/futurist/march-april-2012-vol-46-no-2/hard-work-jobless-future.
  • Beyond a place to store data, the cloud will become more intelligent.
    Cloud intelligence will rapidly evolve into becoming an active resource in our daily lives. For example, it will provide analysis and contextual advice.  How? Researchers predict that virtual agents will be able to design a family’s weekly menu based on each person’s nutritional needs, health profiles, fitness goals, and taste preferences. If you have a hard time deciding what to have for dinner, your worries are over. But what if you’re dining in a restaurant? Does a virtual agent instantaneously scan the menu and find the foods that are best for you? Scary.
  • Over next decade robots will become gentler caregivers.
    Lifting and moving frail patients will be easier for powerful robots than for human caregivers. I can’t imagine patients will be too thrilled about being lifted and carried by cold, hulking, although gentle, hunks of smart metal. But The Futurist’s editors said Japanese scientists are improving the functionality of the RIBA ll (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) by lining its arms and chest with sensors so it can lift patients gently. Hospitals scare me, and the mere thought of being schlepped about by a robot is enough to trigger a massive anxiety attack.

There are many more, all equally fascinating. There is little question that all of these futuristic visions could do enormous good. Aside from overcoming all the technical issues to build them, the cost has to be staggering. That alone could put an indefinite hold on development.

Posted on: January 26, 2016 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine, Part 2

Picking up where I left off in my last blog, here are more insightful predictions for 2016 from The Futurist.

  • Doctors will see brain diseases many years before they arise.
    Imagine finding cures to devastating incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Lou Gehrig’s and many others.  The Futurist’s editors offer hope that cures will one day be available. Their research found that “brain scans can warn doctors if a patient will suffer Alzheimer’s, dementia, Lou Gehrig’s, or a number of other brain disorders as many as 10–15 years ahead of physical symptoms.” They point out that Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis) researchers are learning to identify distinct chemical biomarkers within patients’ body and brain functions. At that point, doctors could then slow the progression of the diseases if they start administering treatments years earlier.
  • Buying and owning things will go out of style.
    In an acquisitive society, where wealth is gauged by our bank accounts and the amount of stuff we can afford to amass — homes, boats, expensive consumer electronics gadgets — younger buyers prefer to rent or subscribe to pay-per-use arrangements rather than buying the products. The Futurist said that, Shared facilities will overtake established offices, renting units will become more common than owning a home, and sales of books and music might never become popular again.”  That’s a very idealistic, and, well, socialistic prediction that I can’t imagine coming to fruition. I hope I’m wrong.
  •  Quantum computing could lead the way to true artificial intelligence.
    Three decades later, we’ve yet to get our hands around the notion of functional and practical artificial intelligence. The Futurist cited the work and conclusions of Geordie Rose, creator of the D-Wave One quantum computer. Rose said, “Conventional computers cannot make decisions, as humans do, but quantum computers eventually might” because they “use programs based on quantum mechanics to see multiple possible outcomes to any given problem and combine information from each to formulate solutions.” In another 10 to 15 years of enhancement, they might cross the threshold to true machine consciousness,” Rose predicts.
  • The future of science is in the hands of crowdsourcing amateurs.
    Citizen science, which relies on networks of volunteers in scientific research, is on the path to becoming the favored 21st century model for conducting large-scale scientific research, according to The Futurist. A few of the organizations involved in citizen science include the Cornell University Ornithology Lab, the United States Rocket Academy, and NASA, among others.
  • Atomically precise manufacturing will make machinery, infrastructure, and other systems more productive and less expensive.
    While the term “nanotechnology” is no longer bleeding edge, K. Eric Drexler, the father of the concept, said that the barely understood technology “is atom-by-atom production, which will allow for extraordinary improvements in manufacturing all things.”  A significant benefit could be cleaner energy, such as liquid hydrocarbon fuels produced using hydrogen from water and carbon from recycled CO2.

Look for my last blog on future predictions that have yet to come to fruition.

Posted on: January 25, 2016 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trends and Projections for 2016 and Beyond from The Futurist Magazine

It’s that time of year. The first month of the New Year is the time soothsayers, snake charmers,  charlatans,  pundits and the most brilliant minds in the country make predictions for the next 12 months and beyond.

Many of the predictions make sense, others are off-the-wall. Your mission, with my help, is to separate the credible and reliable sources from the quacks.  A long-time favorite magazine of mine is The Futurist, published by The World Future Society. Since 1985, the magazine’s editors have identified the trends and ideas which will have the most impact on our lives.  Remarkably, they’re been uncannily on track.  

Rather than give a terse roundup, I’m going to try to include most of the Futurist’s predictions because they’ve either come to fruition, or are a stone’s throw away from it.   I couldn’t cover them all in one blog. Look for more in my next blog.  

Let’s get the ball rolling. Here’s the first batch:

  • Big data moves center stage anticipating our every move.
    There is more than a grain of truth to George Orwell’s futuristic novel, “1984.” The The Furturist’s editors report that, “Computerized sensing and broadcasting abilities are being incorporated into our physical environment, creating what is sometimes called an ‘Internet of things.’” For example, “data flowing from sensor networks, RFID tags, surveillance cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, and geo-tagged social-media posts will telegraph where we’ve been and where we are going.”  It won’t be long before “these data streams will be integrated into services, platforms, and programs that will provide a window into the lives, and futures, of billions of people,” according to the Futurist. There is more than a grain of truth to the futuristic picture described by Orwell.  It’s no longer the stuff of sci-fi films and novels. It’s happening right now as you read these words.  As the Futurist pointed out, “Privacy is rapidly become a mythical state.”
  •  By 2020 populations will shrink, and wealth will shrink with them.
     “...half of the human race will live in countries where the birthrates have fallen below the death rates, and consequently, populations are shrinking,” said the Futurist’s editors. The reason are the “combination of older adults living longer and fewer children being born.” Countries around the globe have their work cut out for them. They’ll be grappling with “shrinking tax bases and workforces despite widening pools of retirees demanding social-security and health-care payouts,” said The Futurist’s editors. “Society will survive, but GDPs will fall markedly throughout the world and probably never fully rise back up,” they said.

Look for more of The Futurist’s predictions in my next blog

Posted on: January 25, 2016 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Disturbing period of transition, part 4

Military historian William R. Forstchen, author of “Day of Wrath,” is not the only source whose observations are ringing true.  So are broadcast journalist Ted Koppel's in his new book, “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.”

Koppel said America is not just under a physical attack, but a devastating cyber attack. And it’s woefully unprepared.

Koppel contends that that Internet is a potential weapon of mass destruction.  In a sense, the Internet has created a different world, one which in many respects is an open book.

In sum, cybercrimes have escalated at an alarming rate, Koppel assets. “There’s hardly a day goes by when cybercrimes are not being committed at the rate of hundreds or thousands of cases a day,” he said.

What do we deal with this growing menace?  Van D. Hipp, Jr., former deputy Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It And Defeat it,” has some answers.

Hipp suggests that the following ought to be done immediately to defend ourselves against a cyber war threat:

  • Support “the Air Force Research Laboratory and make the development of quantum computing with the generation of true random numbers on a chip a reality.
  • Recruit cyber experts. According to Hipp’s sources, the U.S.  is woefully unprepared and is desperate for qualified professionals “with the necessary skills to defend the country against the most complex cyberattacks.
  • Provide national security scholarships to top-of-the-class computer science and data security majors in the U.S.  
  • Wage a preventive war against cyber terrorists.  Hipp said we should take a proactive stance and pursue our enemies before they do enormous damage.
  • Empower the U.S. Cyber Command with the ability to coordinate with the private sector during a cyberattack.  It may involve shutting down certain networks.
  • Distinguish between cyberattcks from China and Russia versus Islamist regimes like Iran.  The goal of Chinese cyberattacks is espionage, while Islamist attacks are primarily focused on sabotage.  Different countermeasures are required contingent on the origin of attack.

Hipp concludes by saying that the threat of cyber threat to the U.S. “is growing each day and is inflicting real damage to America, both economically and from a national security standpoint. It’s taking a tremendous toll on our government, our economy, and the private sector. It’s time for the United States to fight back with real imagination and creativity in order to win in this new dimension of warfare, Cyber War.”

Posted on: December 25, 2015 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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"In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has."

- Mark Twain

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