This weekend, I met up with a friend in the glass business who is helping his son build a trendy cocktail bar in New York City. Knowing the kind of high-end glass work he does, I assumed his son and business partner were incorporating spectacular and highly technical glass and metal in the bar design. Not so.
My glass-biased disappointment was short-lived when I heard about the bar top, and it got me thinking about an article I read recently on work skills for 2020.
But first, about the bar.
One day at the jobsite, someone upturned a five-pound box of nuts, spilling them everywhere. Eureka! The partners decided the bar top should be made of nuts! Entombed in plexi! How retro cool!
When trendy 20-to-30-year-olds sip inventive cocktails here, will they try to identify the nut types under their elbows? Will they know that Macadamias are high in omega-7 fat, low in protein and toxic to dogs? Will they care?
Maybe, but I know this age group does care about the subject of how the workplace is changing. In fact, anyone who expects to be working should pay attention. Recently, the Institute for the Future released its “Future Work Skills 2020” report identifying 10 future skills for the workforce: sense-making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management and virtual collaboration.
Two things might happen if you download the PDF report for details. It will resonate, and you’ll likely evaluate yourself and your employees against each skill. When I did so, I was reminded that the NGA publications team has collaborated virtually for more than a decade (though we have yet to set up Yammer or avatars), and we’re working hard to develop and share our new-media literacy.
The 30-year-old bar owners also are already using these future skills as they operate in the old-world construction trade, in this case, relying on novel and adaptive thinking to create a one-of-a-kind bar. I was struck by the informality, the fluidity and the pace of their enterprise. That’s not to say what they’re doing doesn’t require self-discipline—they’re up early and working at all hours on their latest venture—but they’re using sources in ways most of us couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago.
I thought about how slivered almonds, laminated between a mirrored-etched and possibly back-painted and backlit substrate would look as a kitchen counter.
Then I thought: It’s probably been done, and I need to recalibrate my novel and adaptive sense-making cross-cultural design mindset. And for sure, I’ll also ask my transdisciplinarity-driven cognitive load managing virtual team for input.
But first, I’ll eat a few nuts.
The author is publisher of Glass Magazine and its sister publication, Window & Door, and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.