Viewpoint: New Management Skills Needed Post-Corona

As if I did not need another reminder, I recently stumbled over a picture (1) that brought home the need to reflect on what I might have taken for granted about the core Management competencies needed to master the challenges ahead.

What skills are now most important?

Before the current crisis, WHO published their list of Top 10 Skills needed in 2020, and they are one of the deep cogitators about just what Sustainability means for businesses in our global socio-economic system. But that was before the pandemic, and I suspect that WHO, given the unprecedented impact, and its continuous lessons-learned, might today rank the capability of Cognitive Flexibility much higher, if not vital.

What`’s so important about Cognitive Flexibility?

As a systems thinker I rate the competency of Cognitive Flexibility as indispensable, even more so today. It is the ability to switch thinking between multiple concepts simultaneously, and embodies awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgement of new situations (2). Certainly a key ability for those having to deal with today’s business and financial turmoil, with its as yet undiscovered consequences.

As a part of motivating management boards to change I used to show a short clip from futurist Joel Barker (3), who insisted that most new ideas and insights came from people at the edge or outside the accepted business paradigm. Applied to management persona, that means that this irritating, non-conformist, non-grounded executive may need recategorizing as a potentially very valuable contributor to future viability. This definitely fits well within the current movement towards more organisational agility.

So what must change?

The summons for businesses, institutions, and governments to face and embrace the future with zest, is in part, the call to build tomorrow’s resilient organisations, with:
• A Board composition that includes directors with cognitive diversity, all helping provide a clear and purposeful forward-looking direction and impetus, in addition to their current strategic and governance remit.
• Management teams that lead, envelop and balance doing what the business does well today but better, with simultaneously doing something new and better, within an inclusive and sustainable working environment.
• Individuals who look over and past their functional and hierarchical roles and qualifications and apply their creativity, or finesse, or passion, to do something differently better.

I love the WHO Top 10 skills list, it says so much!

Thanks for reading to the end, I would be very happy to respond to any thoughts and suggestions at

Tony Harvey,

Aachen 27. April 2020

1: Thank you WHO and
2: Thank you Wikipedia and Farlex Dictionary
3: Thank you Joel Barker, PhD. Visionary Leadership

Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything

The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been determined and reveals how the difference between value creation and value extraction has become increasingly blurry. Mariana Mazzucato argues that this blurriness allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they were just moving existing value around or, even worse, destroying it.

The book uses case studies–from Silicon Valley to the financial sector to big pharma–to show how the foggy notions of value create confusion between rents and profits, a difference that distorts the measurements of growth and GDP.

The lesson here is urgent and sobering: to rescue our economy from the next, inevitable crisis and to foster longterm economic growth, we will need to rethink capitalism, rethink the role of public policy and the importance of the public sector, and redefine how we measure value in our society.

Recommended Book: A Brief History of Humankind

A Brief History of Humankind
Amazing attempt to explain why we are like we are today, both from a good and bad perspective. “Homo sapiens rules the world because he is the only animal capable of believing in things that exist only in his own imagination, like gods, states, money and human rights.”