Friedman clearly notes how Googlers have found that “the old basic skills are not enough,” the more important advantage is ability or capacity to “learn above” the basic skills. That means, the ability to ask big questions, see connections, draw parallels and distinctions, think originally and follow leads, and do it objectively, creatively and collaboratively. The reason this is absolutely essential to Google, and to all organizations that are shaping the new economy, is that innovation and learning to learn new-stuff-on-the-fly are key to their success, and innovation demands perceiving what was not there before and doing whatever you can to learn it.
That is why I think Google’s articulation of the ‘soft skills’ of leadership, innovation, humility, teamwork, and ownership is so right-on. Soft they may be, but these skills constitute a combination that is essential to the core work of innovation, which rarely happens in instantaneous individual breakthroughs but rather evolves through collaborative group endeavors in which personal adaptability is a necessity.
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