The Magic Needed for Future Skills

By Melissa Subban

The world is changing at an exponential rate, artificial intelligence is replacing many tasks.

Staying motivated and keeping a positive workforce in these times is a challenge most leaders face. I find that companies are increasingly trying to keep up with having the most skilled workforce. I sometimes feel like a ‘muggle’ in a world where technology advances magically. 

In a world where technology is growing rapidly, how do leaders ensure that a workforce is engaged, resilient, and moving towards its purpose? I started investigating ways for companies to build out the required skill sets needed in their organizations that will improve their dynamic capability. After all, people are the creators of technology. If people move at the same pace as technology, a natural exponential company is created.  So down the rabbit hole, I went!

While there are many models, processes, programs, and training initiatives out there, I found that the simplest answers are usually the best.

Chess requires both problem solving and creativity to play. Two skills I am passionate about, as together they bring about innovation. That, coupled with the ability to stay calm under pressure makes for a spell that can’t fail. 


It has been scientifically proven that the right brain is activated during chess as this is the creative side of the brain. The right side helps you come up with original ideas. One four-year study had students in grades 7 to 9 play chess, use computers, or do another activity once a week for 32 weeks to see which activities fostered the most growth in creative thinking. The chess group scored higher in all measures of creativity, with originality being their largest area of gain.

Problem Solving:

Chess is a game of constant problem-solving. Each time a new move is made, a new problem is placed on the board. Being able to evaluate the situation and think strategically is critical. A study done with chess experts showed that both sides of the brain are used to answer chess problems.

So then, should everyone stop training initiatives and start playing chess?

Including chess-related activities in companies will create a better environment.

Even smaller companies can place a chessboard in the coffee area for people to use during a lunch break. Larger companies can build outdoor chess areas which are also excellent social distancing avenues for observers and players alike.

Cathy Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, says “65% of today’s grade school kids will end up doing work that has yet to be invented.” Being able to practice skills that enable us to adapt quickly to new environments is essential for all companies. By developing a unique people strategy that supports this, there will be the magic that promotes this exponential growth.

Finding ways to develop skills that are used both in everyday life and in business is a simple, effective tool to create a happy, inspired and ultimately more productive workforce.

Melissa M Subban

People Strategist | Office Fairy | Organisational Development & Culture Consultant |HappyFactory • 27 June 2020

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