Microsoft calls it a key skill of the future. Here are 4 steps to mastering it

PUBLISHED: Wed, 06 Mar 2019 15:35:58 GMT

With increasing talk of job disruption and automation, it’s important to think about the skills that will be most in demand in the future.

Microsoft, in its latest research, defined those as digital skills, analytical abilities and continuous learning capabilities. In particular, the tasks that require strong analytic abilities will call for a creative approach, explained Kevin Wo, Microsoft’s managing director for Singapore.

“I think there’s a need for them to learn about skills around design thinking,” Wo said of employees.

“Design thinking” is a term for a particular method of problem solving, which dictates that individuals should try and get into a customer’s shoes to generate practical, user-friendly solutions. That could mean creating a new technology or product, such as Apple’s iPhone. But the strategy can — and should — also be applied to other job functions, design thinking specialist Kasia Miaskiewicz told CNBC Make It.

“You can apply it anywhere,” said Miaskiewicz, a director at UBS Evolve, the Swiss bank’s center for design thinking and innovation. “As long as there is a user, a recipient – and there always is – there’s always an opportunity to apply design thinking.”

Speaking at a recent careers conference in Singapore, Miaskiewicz said the strategy can be broken down into four key steps.

What is?

First up, you need to think about the problem you are trying to solve and make sure you frame it correctly by asking the right questions, Miaskiewicz explained.

“It’s all about asking the right questions and solving for the right problems,” said Miaskiewicz, who is a director at UBS Evolve, the Swiss bank’s center for design thinking and innovation.

What if?

Next, you should consider the potential solutions that will reduce frustrations or “key friction points” for users. Miaskiewicz said that means closely observing customers to see how you can improve their experience.

“The way you develop that part is really watching your customers. From that step a lot of ideas will start popping up,” she noted.

What wows?

At that point several possible ideas should start coming to mind, said Miaskiewicz. Not all will be feasible, she noted, but you should try to be as open-minded as possible and avoid thinking too much about the “cannots.”

“If you start with constraints – time, cost etc. – your ideas of tomorrow will look the same as those of today,” said Miaskiewicz.

What works?

Ultimately, Miaskiewicz said, the workable solution will be the one that ticks the boxes for three key criteria: execution, economics and customer. Put another way, the idea that is feasible for your company to create, makes sense financially and pleases the client.

You can then start experimenting with prototypes and measuring their success before creating a final product, she noted.

“Following that process really helps you get into users’ shoes and create the right solutions to the most frustrating problems,” Miaskiewicz noted.

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