Continuous improvements: problem solving and adaptability – skills for the future

I argue that continuous improvements like problem solving and adaptability are important for any work. I am aware that my affection for this argument comes from that I have worked with quality and environmental management systems for over 16 years, where the Deming cycle (plan, do, check, act) is central. Anyhow, I also think that thanks to this, I have learned the benefit of this thinking.

There is one TV show that I follow every week. It’s a Swedish speaking talk show called “Efter nio”, which I love because of its variety of guests and themes. In October one of the guests on the program was futurist Perttu Pölönen. Perttu published his first book, Curriculum for the future, in 2020. Each time I hear of a good book I reserve the book at my local library, which I did this time too. After some other readers, it was my time to read the book. I read it in one sitting and really like his thinking. He is arguing that we are facing a breaking point in the information revolution. Computers casually transfer knowledge which until recently was considered valuable. We should therefore ask ourselves how humans differ from machines. We, as humans, tend to develop the things we can measure, but many of the skills of the future are ones that are difficult to deal with at a universal precision. Perttu has identified twelve skills in the future curricula, which are among others curiosity and experimentation, communication and storytelling, critical thinking and, interpretation. I say just wow! I truly recommend this book to everyone. Two of the future skills he discusses are problem-solving skills and adaptability. He argue that problem-solving is after all about planning, and that’s where everyone can evolve. Problem-solving skills also support many other skills, such as creativity and perseverance.

Inspired by this I decided to look back at my plan I wrote down a year ago, when one decade ended and another started. 

The picture is taken by me, in Öregrund, Sweden, on New Year´s Day 2019.

On New Year’s Eve, I posted an article on LinkedIn, in which I reflected on which competencies I want to develop.

I wanted to:

1. develop my skills for enhancing sustainable development, like how the UN goals for sustainable development, SDGs, are linked;

2. elaborate my global network further;

3 a. develop my self-leadership, and get better at communicating my development plans; and to

3 b. develop my own management skills, by reflection, continuous development, and by giving and invite people and groups to reflect on and give positive feedback to each other and themselves.

I have noticed that I really like writing these blog posts, I think I could write a coming post on each of these goals. I think that the best thing about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, is that they open up how broad the work for sustainable development is. I argue that SDG 4 is central and especially 4.7: to enhance education for sustainable development throughout education from children to adults – since through this all sustainability goals can be enhanced. One of the greatest news concerning education this year in Finland is that both universities and universities of applied sciences launched joint thesis or program for sustainable development and responsibility based on the SDGs that the UN accepted in 2015, in December.

Figure: Nordic Co-operation on Twitter 25.9.2020. Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G., Woelm, F. 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals and COVID-19. Sustainable Development Report 2020. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Something that the Nordic countries have in common is the major challenges that remain for enhancing sustainable consumption and production, SDG 12 and climate action, SDG 13, which I discuss in my blog post about responsible consumption. Concerning networking, I argue that cooperation is the key for sustainable development. The best thing about networking is that for each new person you meet you will learn something new, and networking can never be finished since the world population is 7.8 billion people!

Out of my goals for last year, I think that I have succeeded best with getting better at trusting myself and communicating my development plans, which I am doing here in my blog. The main thing I´ve learned this year is that I feel empowered when applying all my skills and know-how. In my last blog post, about sustainable leadership, I mentioned my favorite questions: What has been the best, what could have made it even better, and what is most important to do next, which I have rephrased from the blog by Sami Paju, about continuing improvements. These questions I ask myself and in different groups for reflection and for inviting participants to give positive feedback to each other and themselves.

If I had to choose one for next year, I will choose to give more feedback that is positive.

In my next blog, I am planning to reflect on what I learned at the session I will have on the course “Curriculum Development for Climate Change Education in Global South” at Tampere University next week, which I am looking forward to.

Inspiration for this post I got from the blog post of Peter Jung (in Finnish), in which he encourages taking time for bold and honest self-reflection. He encourages each to reflect on these questions: What exactly happened? What did I do? What did I learn? Where did I succeed? Where could I improve or what could I do differently? What will I develop in my future self? Where do I want to challenge myself? Then make yourself a plan and goals for 2021.

I do have a plan and goals for next year, which I so far keep to myself. According to Perttu Pölönen, it is important to do something meaningful, which I feel that I do. I will continue working for sustainable development.

Tove Holm, 4.1.2021

Julkaissut toveholmconsulting

Founder of Tove Holm Consulting. I am a transdisciplinar facilitator for sustainable development. Passions: change leadership, education, Agenda2030, networking & the Baltic Sea. I am a public speaker & PhD.

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