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At the Fall 2019 AIChE conference for chemical engineers, keynote speaker Matt Sigelman presented the importance of developing and supplementing skills forproduct development and leadership. He made the distinction of “jobs” as doing tasks while “work” is renting a set of skills. To succeed in a changing workplace, Sigelman puts forth that we must continue to grow and enhance our skills. I agree!
What are Skills?
Formal education gives us knowledge and some skills. As a chemical engineer, I have learned theories of math, chemistry, and physics. This knowledge is measurable in a quantitative way. There is a “right” answer to a calculus problem or to balancing heat and energy in a standard chemical stoichiometry.
Skills we learn in school or with work experience include analytical capability, writing, research, and creativity. These skills are not necessarily measurable but do differentiate success as innovation leaders. For example, the demand for team collaboration skills at work is in high demand for at least one-third of jobs today.
Sigleman defined “hybrid jobs” as work activities that require both specialized technical skills (e.g. math, chemistry, physics) and critical skills (e.g. people and processes). Job growth and education experience change at 1-2% per year, but skills change as much as 40% per years. Successful new product development (NPD) practitioners and product managers must not only maintain current knowledge in their field of specialization but also grow and enhance their leadership skills. This means learning and practicing sound project management protocols while also adopting and sustaining team development practices.
Today’s most important jobs require mixed skills. Data scientists cannot be content with analyzing a set of numbers. They must translate that data into information on which to base technology and market growth activities. Technical skills must balance against communication and decision-making skills. New Product Development Professionals (NPDP) use quantitative market data to estimate pricing and market capacity for product innovations. Yet, it is qualitative interpretation of customer knowledge that leads innovation leaders to product development decisions, profitability, and improved market share.
Building Mixed Skills
Lifelong learning and a commitment to growth are the fuel to build mixed skills for today’s job market. As noted at the AIChE conference, credential demonstrate expertise and mastery of mixed skills. Innovation leaders use NPDP certification as a stepping stone for product management career growth illustrating experience with product portfolio management and NPD processes as well as team management and leadership development.
You can learn more about NPDP certification here. Benchmark your own innovation maturity with the Innovation Health Assessment™. Take the complimentary Innovation Health Assessment here. Contact me at info@Simple-PDH.com for more information on developing your skills for a rewarding career in product innovation.
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