Last night I attended an interesting discussion on leadership . It was in central london in a fabulous office looking across the modern great metropolis that we call london . So many sky scrapers , so many cranes so very different in appearance
from the London of the crazy 60s or even the 70s. The days of the “old bomb site’ a regular feature of London are well and truly gone. With this fantastic view out of the window the subject being discussed was leadership . As would be expected of such an event there was an invited panel of people who discussed many different topics some interesting and some less but what caught my attention and took me away from my addiction of looking at my iPhone ,was the discussion on soft skills ..
Should leaders have soft skills was the topic being debated . I perked up ,for me it is a very facinating topic and very relevant whenever I work with different organisations and leaders.What are these soft skills and why do we call them soft .
In management speak which often has to be decoded soft skills tends to refer to the qualities a human being has which are more than just their intellect. In recent years it has been referred to as emotional intelligence .The behaviours such as getting on with people, being liked and that old chestnut “Chrisma” .All of these people attributes make up organisations and help of hinder there successs.
I followed more closely the discussion of the panel and almost instantly the conversation changed to the Saville wave system.This was new to me !was this an app or widget or something I should haveheard about ? Could it change my life
As the discussion Continued and with my ability of using my handy smartphone and Wikipedia I soon found out it was some sort of questionnaire that can be used to get into someone’s head .Saville a US based consulting group created a methodology a bit like Myers Briggs did some time before to look into people and try to understand them . This psychometric analysis approach has been used for the last 20 years or more to try and get into potential employee minds and understand if they will fit in and most importantly make the employer of the person more profit . There has been a great deal of research in this area and perhaps it has made a big impact on business,I dont really know. It certainly seems rationale to do such analysis and moreover very laudable to try and work out a way to hedge the bet whether or not to bring someone onto a team or not.
In the bigger picture getting into people’s minds seems very much a topic of the moment . A number of the new successful TV series have followed this theme .A recent tv production called “falling water” depicts a fantasy drama where individuals can enter people’s dreams and effectively mind hop . The power of someone in this drama is to be able to find out valuable information and get into others peoples consciousness . It depicts people with special talents almost psychics who pocesss unique skills . A sort of magical way of conducting psychometric analysis.
It is also the hot topic in the world of algorithms ,where technologists are starting to understand and predict consumer habits by a sort of mass big data way of mind reading .The Mind invasion as predicted and depicted by Isaac Asimov is perhaps starting to be a reality.Is it possible that Robots in the future will have a kind of telepathy.
In an article by David Duncan in the New York times he described how the physicist Stephen Hawking (paralysed by Lou Gehrig’s disease )has been testing an iBrain to communicate by merely thinking .A new generation of portable neural devices with algorithms that can get into peoples minds is being developed.
“The iBrain can collect data in real time in a person’s own bed, or when they’re watching TV, or doing just about anything,” the technology founders said.
The device uses a single channel to pick up waves of electrical brain signals and the raw waves are interpreted with an algorithms.
About the Hawking experiment, he said, “The idea is to see if Stephen can use his mind to create a consistent and repeatable pattern that a computer can translate into, say, a word or letter or a command for a computer.”
It is a way off but is mind invasion really starting to happen with robotics and as predicted by Isaac Asimov
The power of getting into others minds is of obvious importance to potential employers . It allows the buyer to understand if the potential employee has behavioural traits that could be useful as well as the normal paper qualifications or skills obtained at universities .It is a modern day approach to try and do a “Uri Geller “on people using data and technology not the paranormal or psychic powers.
There is nothing wrong in this kind or progress or the desire of humans to understand other humans . The difficult may come if this big data approach to humans stops good leaders from needing “good people picking skills ” and the soft skills become obsolete replaced by technology.
The great strength of leaders who pick the right team and who can create loyalty in people with inspiration and vision must be important . It may be argued it’s better to us the data which turns all of us into ” I Robots” but it might make the workplace very dull and take away the magic of human inspiration .
lets hope the panels of the future encourages those soft skills to stay with us it will make organisations stronger and more sustainable