CCE Current talks with three of College of Continuing Education instructors who are organizational development and business analysis leaders to see what trends are rising, and find out what today's professionals can do to equip themselves for tomorrow's business climate.
Current: Looking ahead five years, what key skills and/or core competencies do you think professionals will need to be successful?
K. David Hirschey: As the impending labor shortage approaches, organizations will increasingly be focusing on "enterprise-wide core competencies," in which all employees will be expected to demonstrate the ability to carry out the mission and goals of the business.
Accordingly, the human capital professionals will need tools to assist in the early identification of desired experiences and aptitudes, as well as a candidate's willingness to learn and grow. Also becoming critical will be strong communication skills and the ability to assess and champion innovation, creativity, financial acumen, business judgment, integrity, teamwork, and customer focus.
Stephanie McGovern: Individuals will need to develop their skill sets in order to account for the shift from vertical, hierarchical organizational structures to more lateral, team-oriented structures.
When I started my career 25 years ago, there were jobs where you could sit in a corner and work by yourself. Today, those jobs are long gone. Today, teamwork and informal social networks are how products get produced and services get delivered. Collaboration skills, from listening well to conflict management to creativity will be crucial.
Angela Wick: Sharing information is the key to an organization's agility in meeting market demands.
Business analysts are a good embodiment of this--they have the ability to share and re-purpose knowledge for others to consume. They are constantly eliciting, gathering, and analyzing information from a variety of people, systems, and documents. Their success is about sharing all of that knowledge with others, and enabling their stakeholders to perform downstream tasks such as developers designing technology, trainers developing training on new systems, testers testing new systems, and business managers changing operational processes.
Current: What is one asset everyone should have in their professional toolkit right now but may not?
K. David Hirschey: Critical thinking skills. Individuals need to identify and anticipate issues. By using a 'Systems' perspective, they can see how a problem and its solution(s) will affect other units. We need to be able to analyze problems skillfully, gather information before making decisions, base decisions on facts and metrics rather than emotions, and use logic to solve problems and reach 'correct' solutions.
Stephanie McGovern: If I had to pick one, it would be the ability to integrate many points of view and then make a thoughtful, but timely decision.
Too often we get caught in "either/or, right and wrong" discussions that go nowhere. I see creativity stilted and good ideas left by the way side because we like to defend our point of view instead of listen openly to someone else's perspective. Decisions don't get made and people end up frustrated.
Angela Wick: Definitely organizational change management. Recognizing our own--and others'--reactions while effectively facilitating and navigating through business change is a vital skill. Also crucial is the ability to understand and influence the motivations of others. Business analysts need the intuitive sense to identify and respond to changing business needs and be able to facilitate the actions of various stakeholders through quickly understanding impacts to business and technology initiatives.