INTRODUCTION

icon-introduction-yellow.png

The chapter defines the crash course analysing:

  1. soft skills for work life at the team level with a focus on creativity, and including definitions of the skills. It start examining the different team creativity definitions, and then underlining the five most relevant soft skills chosen;

  2. the role of competencies and skills in current and future labour markets considering the aims and goals of education and the role of universities;

  3. the learning objectives listed, the structure, learning methods, and course delivery of the crash course.

  4. the design of an indicative lesson plan based on the five team level exercises of creative techniques analysed and on two evaluation sessions using InnCREA audit tool.

  5. the importance of InnCREA audit tool which can be used at the beginning and at the end of the course. This is a short and easy way to understand which are the soft skill to improve;

  6. the importance of soft skills required for business and work life providing a framework of soft skill.

  7. the teaching strategies to be adopted on preparing students to work life.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION FOR THE CHAPTER

Team creativity involves the production, conceptualization, or development of novel and useful ideas, processes, or procedures by an individual or by a team of individuals working together (Amabile, 1988). Team creativity is also the creation of valuable, useful new product, service, idea, procedure, or process by individuals working together in a complex social system (Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby, & Herron, 1996). This can occur informally or in structured teams such as work teams. Teams composed of members from different cultures and disciplines are quite often used at the workplace.

icon-technical-information-yellow.png

These teams present potentials for creativity due to the possibility of integrating diverse perspectives, knowledge, skills, and abilities (Jackson, 1992; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998; West, 2002), and this diversity can stimulate creative thinking and prevent groups from moving prematurely to consensus on complex issues (van Knippenberg et al., 2004). However, diversity also poses possible risks, such as relational conflicts (De Dreu and Weingart, 2003), negative emotionality (Jehn, 1997; Jehn et al., 1999), stress (Donnellon, 1996; Jehn, 1997; Keller, 2001), or the possibility of “groupthink” (Janis, 1972), which hampers group cohesiveness and paralyzes team performance. Therefore, analyses report a double-edged effect of diversity on creativity, suggesting that diversity needs to be tactfully managed if we want to leverage the creative potential of teams.

Teams are special types of groups where people work with commitment, shared responsibilities and complementary skills to achieve shared outcomes and common goals (Hackman, 1990; Cohen and Bailey, 1997).

Defined by the American Management Association as the Four C’s — creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking — soft skills are the transformative skills necessary for innovation to take root and grow in any organization.

 

Soft skills are the critical components to a successful career, and necessary from the first interview through retirement. For example, a successful interview on a hiring process is nothing more than a showcase of a candidate’s soft skills, especially their communication abilities. In order to succeed in a job interview, candidates must be able to communicate clearly and effectively their accomplishments and the skills they will bring to an organization. After landing the job, soft skills continue to be essential. In order to be successful, employees must be able to collaborate with their colleagues and work team members.

In general, innovative professional skill will not develop without proper support. For some, the soft skills that support an innovative spirit comes naturally. Howeer, for most people, these skills can be learnt and improved using particular techniques.

 

For team creativity the most relevant soft skills to develop are:

  • Communication - Ability to express an opinion; discussion skills.

  • Collaboration - Collaborative problem-solving; teamwork; cooperation.

  • Leadership - Ability of an individual to encourage strategic thinking, innovation, and action, and to guide other members of an organization to achieve a common goal.

  • Negotiating skill - Qualities that allow two or more parties to reach a compromise. These are often soft skills such as communication, persuasion, planning, strategizing and cooperating.

  • Problem solving - Conflict resolution, systematic approach, logical goal-oriented thinking, creativity.

The role of competencies and skills is central in the performance of organizations. According to recent studies, competencies related to creativity, problem solving, team skills, personal development and communication, are gaining importance. 

Currently, the European Union has launched a comprehensive project on the classification and assessment of competencies across sectors within the European Union (ESCO – European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations, 2016). This project aims on creating distinct classifications of skills, competences, qualifications and occupations in all fields and working occupations, relevant for the EU labour market. In the ESCO system, skills are divided in two categories, job specific skills and soft skills. One of the biggest challenges in this project is to identify the skills needed in each occupation.

Efforts to define skills and competencies have also led to discussions on the aims and goals of education and the role of universities.

 

Many universities focus on hard skills. While it is certainly important to improve these skills, it is not enough for any graduate to land a job, exceed expectations, and professionally excel.

It is not reasonable to allow the gap between the skills demanded by employers and taught by the education system to continue widening. It is crucial to prepare students to be creative and innovative professionals by emphasizing the importance of soft skills in all of university courses. Traditional problems and solutions taught in business school often do not mimic what students will actually encounter in the workplace, and as a result, employ skilled faculty and practitioners who can offer first-hand experience and insight into why soft skills are fundamental.

EU countries have different methodologies and approaches to the teaching and assessment of soft skills, there is a collection of best practices and methods for teaching and learning them at university level. Despite their obvious importance, institution/programme changes are seldom given attention when analysing HE-to-work transitions and graduate employability: thus, there is a lack of comparative studies and statistics.

If you run the course, then your students will emphasise 

  • students’ collaboration,

  • student's idea creation process,

  • openness,

  • the capability to be analytical and attentive to details

  • the ability to express an opinion,

  • problem solving skills,

  • discussion skills, 

  • the constructiveness of the discussion,

  • tolerance,

  • social activism,

  • critical thinking,

  • creative thinking,

  • creativity,

  • going beyond the usual schemes.

  • Introduce creativity and pioneering innovation at team level

  • Use the innCREA audit tool to evaluate the creative skill level of students

  • Introduce the five techniques and implement related exercises to students

  • Use the innCREA audit tool to reevaluate the creative skill level of students after the course

The training delivery method chosen is influenced by several factors such as budget, organisation, location, time frame, and goals.

Most universities use multiple delivery methods, because a single modality may be non-functional.

Classroom training is the most traditional form of training most effective when you need to provide a relatively small amount of information, in a short period and you need interactivity, as learners can ask questions and receive instant responses.

 

Advancements in technology have propelled the use of virtual classrooms that enable universities to deliver training in the form of text, video and documents in real time and learners can attend the session from wherever they are located, saving valuable time and money on logistics and venues.

 

E-learning and Mobile Learning are today’s most popular forms of training delivery. Those are good options for universities allowing flexible learning opportunities in a short time frame.

With blended learning, currently universities prefer to leverage a combination of approaches, ensuring that every learner retains information.

The course will be provided:

  •  in classroom 

  • blended mode

This delivery mode helps the group members to discuss and interact with each other avoiding distances and barriers.

LESSON PLAN

icon-lesson-plan-yellow.png

1

Activity

Introduction to topic

PPT - Slides

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

09:00 - 09:10

-

2

Activity

Initial evaluation session

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

09:10 - 09:15

-

3

Activity

Introduction to technique # 1 - LOESJE

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

09:15 - 09:25

-

4

Activity

Exercise 1

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

09:25 - 09:35

-

5

Activity

Discussion

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

09:35 - 09:40

-

6

Activity

Introduction to technique # 2 - Lotus Blossom

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

09:40 - 09:50

-

7

Activity

Exercise 2

-

Duration

Timetable

15 min.

09:50 - 10:05

-

8

Activity

Discussion

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

10:05 - 10:10

-

-

Activity

Break

-

Duration

Timetable

15 min.

10:10 - 10:25

-

9

Activity

Introduction to technique # 3 - SWOT

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

10:25 - 10:35

-

10

Activity

Exercise 3

-

Duration

Timetable

15 min.

10:35 - 10:50

-

11

Activity

Discussion

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

10:50 - 10:55

-

12

Activity

Introduction to technique # 4 - False Rule

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

10:55 - 11:05

-

13

Activity

Exercise 4

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

11:05 - 11:15

-

14

Activity

Discussion

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

11:15 - 11:20

-

15

Activity

Introduction to technique # 5 - Do Nothing

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

11:20 - 11:30

-

16

Activity

Exercise 5

-

Duration

Timetable

10 min.

11:30 - 11:40

-

17

Activity

Discussion

-

Duration

Timetable

5 min.

11:40 - 11:45

-

18

Activity

Final evaluation session

-

Duration

Timetable

15 min.

11:45 - 12:00

-

TOTAL

180 min.

3 hrs 0 mins

LEARNING CONTENT FOR THE CHAPTER

The crash course provides the following 5 creativity techniques, 

These techniques enhance team creativity soft skills. In particular:

  • Communication (Loesje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT, False rule)

  • Collaboration (Loesje, Lotus Blossom, False rule, Do Nothing)

  • Leadership (SWOT, False rule)

  • Negotiating skill (Loesje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT)

  • Problem solving (Loesje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT, False rule, Do Nothing)

At the beginning of the course, it is planned to measure the students' creativity level through the InnCREA audit tool. This aims to recommend students to focus more on developing the soft skills in which they are most weak. Therefore, the final audit tool will allow students to check their progresses.

icon-lesson-content-yellow.png

Soft skills have always been important in business, but in the last few years it has become clear just how much more important they have become to the changing needs of the workplace. Many professional reports demonstrate how much of a gap exists between the soft skills the modern employee possesses and that which their employers require in the modern workplace.

Both hard and soft skills are important to consider when making hiring determinations and deciding who earns leadership roles and promotions. Recruiting professionals believe an employee with stronger soft skills has a better chance of being promoted to a leadership position than an employee with more years of experience but weaker soft skills. Also, failing to show soft skills at a job interview can cost you the job. 

Many people are adequate with some skills yet struggle with others. For instance, an employee may have excellent communication and teamwork abilities but struggle with time management or struggle under pressure. 

The first thing to do is assessing current employees. To improve, it is important to understand the skill gaps across the entire company, within specific teams, and down to the individual employee. In this way, it is possible to tailor ongoing training to close the skill gaps.

A. How to update teaching strategies
 

  • One broad recommendation that will bring teaching, business, and work life together is to construct programs that will benefit all the players, especially the students. In order to create the link needed to connect the workforce and the classroom, teachers, business owners, and entrepreneurs must get involved in work-based learning program design and delivery.

  • Teacher should integrate active learning methods in teaching practices which can support curriculum innovation and improve the learning experience of university students while learning disciplinary subjects.

  • Teacher comprehensively support students while they develop soft and digital soft skills.

  • Teacher should engage positively and effectively with students, giving them time to think about soft skills that seldom seem not so comprehensible to them.

  • Teacher must encourage students to develop their full potential, making them work in team and involving them in useful discussion to enhance problem solving, leadership, and team negotiating skills

B. How to adjust the levels of the techniques, make them more impactful.

  • Set clear and achievable objectives

  • Use case studies and exercises to clarify how technique works

  • Invite experienced testimonials to present concrete work life examples

  • Use exciting and stimulating group logic game, to activate motivation and stimulate the acquisition of a certain behaviour, as team building, conflict management, and roles and responsibilities.

1. Do Nothing

Creative technique, that works by investigating what would happen to a problem doing nothing

and by determining, what the outcome would be if nothing were done.

2. LOESJE

Technique based on playing with words, which allows one to go beyond the usual language patterns and effectively activate creative thinking.

3. Lotus Blossom

Creative and lateral thinking technique, used as a brainstorming tool, for which is used as a visual representation of an idea.

4. SWOT

Technique for assessing the four aspects - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats - of a business. Each of these factors needs to be carefully examined to plan the growth of the organization.

5. False rule

Provocation technique that uses the free association process our mind triggers trying to connect a problem situation with a rule that has no connection with it..

-

dream-team-to.jpg

CHAPTER 3

Team level