Coordinating with others
In this module we will focus on how to improve digital communication, by developing the necessary skills that will help to boost effective digital communication in the work environment, which is of great importance for teamwork and coordination with others, the professional development of the individual, their personal enrichment, as well as to have an attractive, productive and enjoyable work experience, and in turn, adapt to the new circumstances and work challenges in which we live.
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In this course, you will learn some of the most important ICT tools in the business environment, as well as skills and tips to foster communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Smart working is one of the keys to business success today, so it is necessary to learn the most commonly used platforms and applications to ensure effectiveness and productivity.
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Now that the new measures before the COVID- 19 have pushed to move from the office to teleworking. You have to see where to start to organize your work team and be able to continue with the activity of the company. You have so many open fronts that you don't know how to control the projects, and you are losing control of their progress. On the other hand, now that you can't use the meeting room or communicate with your team in the office, you have to think about some online tool for communication and coordination of the team, otherwise it would be an impossible task. Finally, not being able to use your old office filing system, where you had all the folders organized in a filing cabinet, you have to think of a more practical solution that will make your task a little easier, and also be a little more environmentally friendly and not print so much paper.
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Now that you have been teleworking for some time, you see that your team is feeling a bit demotivated lately because of remote work and lack of contact among the main reasons. In addition, you have to take a project forward and you have to communicate it to your team, but you see that the team is a bit tired; and there are also new employees who do not know the platform you are working with. In turn, there is a conflict between team members that needs to be resolved.
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Your boss has summoned you to an important online meeting to explain a project that needs to be taken forward. As a result of the meeting, you have to send a report, which he has asked each department, and in turn, you have to explain in detail to a colleague some things you require him to send you in order to make this report.
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This company pays special attention to the development of soft skills in an implicit way, through the definition of its company values, as well as the activities carried out for the personal and professional development of its employees.
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The key activities we underline are those related to training, face-to-face, internal and external training; online training; internal mentoring; and coaching, internal and external, with support sessions for the employee's personal and professional development; learning by doing, based on learning through practical experience, and attendance at conferences. In the absence of more specific data, we investigated and found that it is a company with a very positive assessment by its employees. And that currently, thanks to the reinforcement of internal communication and closeness during the months of lockdown, the company has managed, despite the physical distance, to increase employee engagement by 5 points in the last few months.
A growing company currently recognised for its work in the HR field and its innovative and creative "PEAK" methodology, based on lean and agile best practices, which has completely transformed the company's culture and aims to transform the corporate culture and align all the company's teams to function as a single team and break down silos.
Zeppelean is an online platform that focuses its activity on the evaluation of competencies for their subsequent development and feedback of results through gamification, and the intuitive, agile and attractive development of its content, so that these are effective and dynamic, and in turn, increase the motivation of employees in such training, which is carried out on an ongoing basis. It seems to us a great example of a tool that companies could implement for this purpose.
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The objective of this company is that through the contracting of its services, the improvement of the employees' results will be achieved. This, at the same time, would have an impact on the improvement of the company's results, and therefore, this would imply a contribution to the economy and to society.
Regarding the results obtained, the evidence is the statement of a Spanish company that through the use of these services they have been able to facilitate and synthesise the process of evaluation and development of soft skills, leaving older and ineffective methods behind.
By using this kind of tools, the company can facilitate the assessment and development of employees' competences, providing feedback, reward, motivation and involvement of employees in continuous learning, involving them at all times in the process, through games and the achievement of objectives.
This initiative or these types of tools still seem to be largely unknown to many companies. More awareness and visibility would be beneficial.
The University of Navarra, through the Career Services department, dedicated to improving the employability and professional development of students, offers students the newly implemented "ESSENTIALS" training programme, which is aimed at the acquisition and development of students' soft skills in relation to what is in demand in today's job market, while integrating training in the main recruitment techniques used by companies.
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This programme was born from the needs of the students expressed in a satisfaction survey carried out by this university and is being very well received by students. ESSENTIALS is divided into four phases, which take place over 4 academic years. In each of these levels, students participate in two types of activities; training sessions aimed at developing the necessary tools for the job search and to be able to overcome the selection processes carried out by companies; and training sessions aimed especially at acquiring the soft skills most in demand by companies today, such as self-knowledge, conflict management, decision-making, effort capacity, initiative, among others. In addition to this, activities and sessions are also carried out and are complemented by the Tu&Co programme, which provides advice on professional skills through the support of mentors.
It should be noted the position of the University of Navarra in the "QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2020" for four consecutive years, ranking third in Europe in teaching, behind the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, according to the latest ranking of The Times Higher Education.
The key to the success of this programme is that it was born directly from a need expressed by the students. The initiative demonstrates how this University is truly committed to the professional and personal development of its students, thus encouraging them to achieve success, while making a great contribution to the economy and society.
The consulting company Garden consultants S.A, has carried out its activity throughout its history from its office in the centre of the city of Málaga. As a result of the situation caused by the pandemic of covid-19, they were forced to close their offices and switch to telecommuting or teleworking.
This company, with a team of about 10 people, led by Rubén, the CEO, is forced to take the necessary steps to quickly adapt to this new remote work modality with all that it entails.
Rubén, does not have very advanced knowledge regarding the digital World, and is a bit lost in this regard, since the mode of work and communication in Garden consultants has always been face-to-face. Rubén, has to start at the beginning, and see what is the first step to quickly adapt his company to the digital world and be able to move forward.
On the other hand, the team usually meets in the office once a week, to catch up on work in progress. Therefore, they will need some way to carry out this kind of action, which translates in a new way of communication.
In addition, the team works in several projects at the same time, and Ruben is afraid of losing the control of the progress of them. Nowadays, he has a folder with all the important things written down, but sometimes he feels that this methodology is not very practical, due to the excessive use of paper, waste of ink, and it doesn’t seem to be a very ecological option.
The team tends to communicate regularly in the office, as each department must work in a coordinate way, having several meetings, and a lot of communication by email.
There are also frequent problems between colleagues as a result of tensions caused by workload and stress.
Many of the employees, like Rubén, have no notions regarding the digital World, as they have never been in this situation before.
Denis, who is one of the employees with some experience in digital communication, is having a conversation with a colleague who is frustrated because, through the digital communication recently implemented in the company, a collage from the same department to whom she explained something, does not understand her. She wrote to him via chat with very detailed information and did not get the results of understanding that she expected.
The unit entitled Creativity looks at definitions of creativity, identifies its components, introduces the 4P model of creativity and outlines the types of creativity. It also looks at creativity in teams and provides an overview of selected creativity techniques. Finally, it addresses design thinking framework.
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The EZZA restaurant in Dubrovnik opened in August 2021 with the plan to operate all year round. The original idea behind EZZA Steak & Cocktail Bar was to create a fantastic place that would offer the most passionate meat lovers a variety of culinary options, adding a special flair to the steak and cocktail bar culture in Dubrovnik. At EZZA Bar, guests can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience of sharing and sampling tapas-style food. Unfortunately, EZZA had to close its doors over the winter months in November 2021 due to the great challenges of these uncertain times.
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Villa Kazbek is a luxury 5 star boutique hotel owned by the Swedish investment company Pervanovo. It offers elegantly furnished rooms with stylish bathrooms. Kazbek is located at the seafront of Gruz Bay and a 10-minute drive from Dubrovnik's Old Town. Although location attracts tourists to stay at this boutique hotel, construction works aimed at widening and reconstruction of Lapadska obala have made the location of Kazbek less attractive. In order to compensate impairment in location, management of Kazbek hotel decided to reduce their prices. Besides, guest reviews and grades regarding location are worsened.
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Blackberry was designed and developed by RIM (Research in Motion) in 1999. The pioneer in bringing email services to handheld mobiles, BlackBerry became the favourite device of world leaders, businessmen, and celebrities. Owning a BlackBerry device was a status symbol. The company grew from 1999 to 2007 because the company's innovative product lines were well received.
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The introduction of the touch-screen iPhone in 2007 triggered a dramatic shift away from Blackberry handheld devices, and Blackberry lost more than half of its market value in two years. In addition, Blackberry failed to anticipate the emergence of the "app economy," which led to massive adoption of iPhone and Android-based devices.
This company pays special attention to the development of skills of its employees. In 2020. Valamar Riviera has launched educational programs and the system adapted to new needs and digital environment: online seminars, webinars, virtual classrooms and continued to provide its own employees education and training through educational platform for development and employee education, Valamar Excellence.
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Valamar Excellence is an internal lifelong program learning and acquiring knowledge useful for business in tourism and catering which divided into two parts:
Valamar education – specialist programs for jobs in tourism that consist of two sub-programs, V-Executive and V-Professional
Valamar trainings - training programs which include individual work with mentors and professional development using examples of best practices in the company: V-ACADEMY, V-LEAD, V-INTERN, V-START
Participants undergo a total of 19 trainings, of which 14 internal lectures and five external trainings covering the area of teamwork, business communication and leadership skills. The percentage of attendees attending internal trainings is a very high 92 percent. In total, over 6,000 hours of training were realized in internal and external trainings.
Programme firstly launched in 2019. It is internal programme for professional development for the future managers in operations and corporate services. This program lasts one year and in the first part participants undergo several trainings intended to sharpen leadership skills, and when continuing the program attendees also have the opportunity to see some of best practices of other companies.
Kraš is the leading manufacturer of sweets in Croatia. Continuity of human resources development is ensured through the recruitment, selection, selection and employment of workers who, with their knowledge, skills, experience and personality, will best respond to the challenges of the environment in which we operate. Appropriate education from the very beginning of work, introduction to work, and transfer of knowledge from older and more experienced workers to younger generations and later organized acquisition of new knowledge ensures the process of lifelong learning.
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Systematically, through the KRAS ACADEMY, workers adopt new knowledge and skills, following world achievements in order to achieve full work efficiency. The innovation and creativity of employees are systematically encouraged and the achieved results are appropriately rewarded.
Kraš offers to its employees:
work in a team of top experts
a culture that nurtures honesty and integrity, quality and a positive attitude
a work environment that encourages creativity and innovation.
Workers are considered to be the foundation of success.
Recently, there has been a growing global awareness of the importance of soft skills, both in everyday and business life.
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SSA is a three-day workshop on soft skills primarily aiming students. It contains lectures and interactive trainings aimed at improving skills in the field of interpersonal relationships, with the emphasis on business relationships, which cannot be acquired in college, but are necessary in professional life.
These skills are crucial for shaping quality, self-confident young leaders and for creating a pleasant, productive and working atmosphere.
The company "World of Sweets"
"World of Sweets" is the leading manufacturer of confectionery in the region thanks to its quality, tradition and strong brand. The company has secured its leading position in the market by focusing on the production of original and high-quality products in the long term. Its ultimate goal is to meet the needs and desires of consumers.
The Human Resources Management Policy demonstrates a high level of corporate social responsiveness. All employees have the opportunity to develop personally and professionally by investing in the expansion of their knowledge and skills.
Considering employees as the foundation of success, the Company organises an Academy to provide a planned training programme to continuously nurture the innovation and creativity of employees to achieve maximum efficiency in the workplace. Their achievements are appropriately rewarded.
Suppose that you are a product developer. Gather a team to come up with ideas for a new chocolate candy bar.
Supporting learners in:
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• Familiarizing with the concept of Emotional Intelligence.
…so to better equip learners with a robust theoretical background.
• Experimenting and testing their EI in real-life settings.
Learners will be exposed to the very fundamentals of EI and the framework that help them in navigating social environments.
• Be more self-aware and self-effective combining the EI framework with EntreComp.
...to better manage and understand the true power of emotions for a positive state of mental well-being.
• Combining emotional awareness with Social Intelligence.
Where Social Intelligence stands for the ability to build and nurture positive and stimulating interpersonal relations
Mary is a very loving old lady, always with a smile on her face and ready to cheer-up other people, she has a word of comfort and care for all the occasions, she’s always very open about her experiences and likes to share with others laughs, fun memories and joyful tips.
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Mary works at the welcome desk of your company, all employees know her and appreciate her company and positive attitude. She has worked with this company since the very beginning, she knows everybody and everybody knows about her shining spirit.
She is used to greeting everybody with a warming good morning sunshine and during Christmas period, she bakes cookies and sweets for all people. Mary was the first person to welcome you in the office, she introduced you to your colleagues, and never forgets to wish you happy birthday.
Overall, she’s a really great person and you really wish there would be more people like Mary in this world.
One morning, while grabbing your coffee ready to start your routine, you notice that Mary is not there. Very strange from her, considering how robust her work ethic is: Mary is always extremely punctual in her tasks and duties, and she barely missed a day at work in more than 10 years of service. This might be one of those day, isn’t? Everybody can get sick, or have an urgent appointment…
While eating your lunch in the cafeteria, you come to know that Mary will be out of office for a while due to what seem to be very delicate personal issues.
Weeks pass by, and still no sign of Mary whatsoever. People start to get worry; it is very unusual from her to disappear with no communication in-between. Eventually, you and your colleague decide to ask the HR if there is something seriously concerning with her…he/she replies that nothing happened to her, but for this time being it is better to give her some space.
Her/his reply is a bit unsettling: apparently, something happened for sure, but the HR does not disclose more details about it.
One day – one of the many without Mary’s good morning – you receive a shocking letter from the head of your company: Mary’s youngest son, a brilliant college student in his 20s with a bright and promising future in front of him, lost a decade long battle against a very rare and aggressive disease. She took some time off from the office to spend with her son his last two months of life, with a great pain in her heart she’s still pleased to inform that – all and all – it’s been a sweet goodbye and she will be back soon to work.
At the end of the note, there is only one request from her: no flowers, no letters, no need to come to the funeral (it is a private ceremony anyway), just a simple “taste of normality”.
The office cannot believe what they just read and all of your colleagues are visibly stunned. Turns out that only few people in the company knew about Mary’s conditions, in more than 10 years of flawless service she never spilled out any comment about her son’s disease, she talked all time about him with maternal pride in her eyes, but never a reference to what she was going through…
It’s a Monday morning, first day of her return to work. You see her on her desk…a sad look in her eyes, no glooming aura in her face.
Your team is currently working to bring to conclusion a very demanding project: time is tickling fast, deadlines are very challenging, and tasks are complex to implement.
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Project staff is doing a great job, their expertise, knowledge and commitment have been exceptional so far… but meeting contractor and stakeholders’ expectations (in quality and in time) are putting a huge pressure on their shoulders.
Energies are eroding at faster rate than time available to recover, and there is a lot of stress in the team. The effect of long working hours is starting to impact communication, collaboration and cooperation dynamics as well…
An internal meeting with the team reveals that although most of final activities are in place, and ready to be launched, their implementation will absorb further resources in terms of money and workforce.
Money is not a problem: your financial department was aware of budgeting structure and funds are already available, what really concerns you is negotiating with the team their additional involvement in the last cycle of project’s implementation.
You’re very tired and under pressure as well, and on the one hand, you cannot allow the project to go belly up in these final moments, and on the other, you have to deal with a shortage of energy and focus that can potentially lead to critical errors in such a delicate phase.
Your parents are concerned with your little brother Marcus. Once a brilliant student with excellent grades and a joyful social life, Marcus has lost interest for a couple of months in studying and spending time on books, he has started isolating more and more from his friends, and he seems finding shelter in his room, by himself.
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Per se, these are not negative things, but what is concerning is the sudden change in the behavior.
You know your brother, he used to look up to you for mentorship and now there’s something very unnatural in the way he carries himself and eventually your “big brother” instinct steps in…
After a couple of pep-talks, Marcus finally spills the beans: the boy experienced his first love rejection, and he just doesn’t know how to cope with it.
He really cares about this girl Sarah. She’s in his math class, they used to spend a lot of time together and while he was starting to develop feelings for her, she always saw him as her cool and funny buddy to spend time with in the cafeteria chit chatting about whatever…
You feel very relieved knowing that all of this is just because of Sarah, but at the same time you feel sorry for him: Marcus is very mature for his age, but he’s still naive and fragile about many things; he has just discovered one of the many harsh truths of life, one for which he was not ready yet…
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To improve advisors´ educational practice quality, by using online tests/guides or coaching sessions to facilitate the management of emotional processes in classroom.
Develop innovative teaching resources to train VET educators in emotional competencies.
Develop an interactive platform with virtual spaces for the self-assessment of emotional competencies, co-creation and dissemination of educational materials, exchange of ideas and methodologies, etc.
Test the quality of the products obtained consulting stakeholders, associated partners and indirect target groups.
Disseminate the project at local/regional/national and international level taking advantage of partners’ network.
The ultimate objective of this project is to improve the quality of the teaching and learning process by developing emotional skills competences among VET advisors to tackle effectively the specific characteristic of the target group (i.e., VET students).
The emotional skills training for VET advisors will improve their professional practice, will improve their expectations of being successful in teaching target group and will have positive impact on professional development and future career.
This project was in the context of a learning mobility for teachers and school staff. The training activities and following learning outcomes include:
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The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Modern Education and Workplace Settings
The Emerging Self- and Development of Emotional Intelligence (Development, mind-set – literal to abstract)
In touch with the emotional self and influence on learning
Develop skills in Leadership and Creativity
Applications of EI skills in the home, Workplace and Educational Establishments.
The objective was to develop competencies in participants and later, in all staff, to enable them to deal with issues arising from emotional conflict and to make participants and other staff more sensitized to dealing with strong emotions and building relationships with all pupils, in particular immigrant pupils who are dealing with cultural differences.
It will also afford staff members the opportunity to gain insight into how other countries and educational systems deal with the changing needs and pressures on society regarding young people inability to deal with their emotions and conflicting situations that may arise as a result of this.
Another learning mobility. This time for youth.
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The project stems from the desire to support youngsters to develop an inner compass that helps them to navigate the complexity of current times. The main goal is to equip young adults with the emotional skills that help them to develop resilience and flexibility to thrive in a world that is constantly changing.
Specific outcomes are as follows:
Gain drive and motivation, by living an intense experience of self-reflection and self-discovery in connection to the topic of emotional agility
Develop a network of friends and acquaintances from different countries and cultures, raising their appreciation for diversity
Exchange activities, tools and ideas about emotional agility, enriching their personal and professional tool-box
Exchange personal experiences with people from different cultural and social background, widening their understanding of cultural diversity and how to approach it creating inclusion
Discover and develop their potential to impact their own community, by being concretely involved in preparation and implementation activities
Develop more confidence to enter the labour market
Increase their chances for active citizenship and dialogue with the rest of society
The operational objectives of the project consist in helping young people in:
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Developing a deeper knowledge of failure concept (typology, causes, effects)
Increasing their sense of resilience and self-awareness
Developing a proactive attitude and behaviour towards failure by planning and putting into practice an educational program for youths (and optional for adults).
FAR originality consists in the fact that it brings into light the modern and less approached problem of youth’s occupational counselling on the basis of the culture of failure – issue presented from two different perspectives: learning in school and behaviour on the job market – and leveraging on failure techniques, automatic thoughts, positive reframing, mental contrast, emotional intelligence, leadership and many others.
Jimmy the engineer
Jimmy is a brilliant computer science graduate. He never failed a class and he never missed any assignment from his professors. Jimmy has a strong work ethics and he spends most of his free time in studying advanced programming techniques and software by himself.
Soon after his graduation, he lands his first ever interview with a large multinational corporation. The recruitment process includes three interviews: (1) a telephone interview, (2) case scenario, (3) an incognito test.
Jimmy passes brilliantly the first two steps, then he is told to come back in a week with no further details on what is going to happen that day…
A week passes by and Jimmy walks into the office to prepare himself for what he thought was going to be another interview with a senior engineer. To his great surprise, Jimmy finds out that 4 other people are waiting with him and none of them has a clue on what is going on.
Suddenly a senior engineer walks in. He/she introduces him/herself, she/he congratulates Jimmy and the others for their excellent performance so far, and announces that today they will make their final decision on who gets the job.
It turns out the incognito test is actually another data breach simulation and they will all work on it, not individually, but as a team. They have 3 hours to complete the challenge, 2 other senior staff members will be in the room with them but they’re not allowed to disclose any sort of information, they cannot be asked for any clarifications and they cannot talk with candidates.
There is only one office laptop that they can use and they need to gather themselves all the information they need to understand and solve the challenge.
After wishing them good luck, the senior engineers take a seat and start taking note.
Jimmy knows nothing about these people or the challenge they are faced with, he’s out of his comfort zone…overall, he’s very unsettled but the clock doesn’t care about his feelings and it is time to get the work done.
The assignment is clear and there is a shared sense of urgency to take care of the challenge first: the computer is already on, time to solve the problem…
Judgment and Decision-Making
Raise students’ awareness of perception, judgement and decision making.
Familiarise students with various decision-making models and tools.
Improve students’ decision-making skills.
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The concept of mental accounting, developed by economist Richard H. Thaler, refers to the way we manage and organise our financial activities and it may well illustrate how cognitive biases impact the decision-making process. Though Thaler defined mental accounting as ‘the set of cognitive operations used by individuals and households to organize, evaluate, and keep track of financial activities’ (Richard H. Thaler, Mental Accounting Matters, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 12: 183-206, 1999), he went on describing how mental accounting also impacted corporate financial decisions, (Ibid.) Thaler pointed out that ‘the primary reason for studying mental accounting is to enhance our understanding of the psychology of choice.’ (Ibid.) It is argued that, if left unacknowledged, mental accounting may result in irrational decisions regarding investment or spending. For example, research has indicated that we are more willing to pay for goods when we pay by credit card, not in cash. We tend to differentiate between the ways we earn money and in case of any unexpected financial gain, such as gambling winnings or any windfall, we are more likely to spend the money or make a high-risk investment. Yet, once these cognitive biases are recognised and analysed, mental accounting may be used as a tool for reinforcement of positive behaviour.
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You are a team leader at ICT Consult Ltd., a small company that works on IT projects for different organizations. There are five great IT specialists in your team. You know your strengths and weaknesses very well and you always manage to distribute your workload so that you can complete the projects on time and with excellent quality. One day Eric, the most experienced IT specialist on the team, comes to you and files his resignation letter. You are utterly surprised – why would this valuable team member want to leave the company and could you do something about it?
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Need identified: bridging the gap in soft skills development in higher education (HE)
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Assignment: You work at the International Office of your university and you are responsible for further internationalisation and digitalisation of the university programs with view of improving the students’ employability prospects in a continuously globalised job market and in particular developing intercultural communication skills and leadership. You have several ideas along these lines. One of your priorities is to work with other Erasmus+ universities (using EU project funding) in order to multiply the effect and provide structured opportunities for work in international teams (students/lecturers/administration staff). You have to take into account collaboration with the business with view of better employability options for students.
The Vroom-Yetton-Jago normative decision model is a decision-making tree which helps business leaders determine whether they need to involve others in the decision-making process and to what extent. Leaders elicit information by asking a series of questions about the situation, possible decisions and consequences to decide on the degree of involvement of others. As a result, the style of decision making may vary from autocratic (when the leader makes a decision on their own) to consultative to group based. This model may be illustrated by this diagram designed by MindTools, with A1 and A2 referring to an autocratic style of decision making, C1 and C2 to a consultative one, and G2 to a group-based style of decision making:
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FAA’s basic assumption is that not only can good judgement be learned from experience - it can be taught. The Aeronautical Decision Making tool, ADM, builds upon conventional decision making to help decrease the likelihood of errors in the cockpit. It is a structured, systematic approach using risk-management tools called PAVE and 3P, and a decision-making model DECIDE, modified for pilot’s situations.
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PAVE defines the four major hazards of flight: Pilot, Aircraft, enVironmental and External. Hazards create risk, making PAVE critical in risk management and ultimately preflight and in-flight aeronautical decision making. The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) defines risk ‘as the future effect of a hazard which is not controlled or eliminated.’
Two models for practical risk management are used. The first invokes the Perceive-Process-Perform or 3P model. First, Perceive a given set of circumstances for your flight using PAVE. Then Process the circumstances by evaluating their effect on flight safety with CARE (Consequences, Alternatives, Reality, External pressures). Lastly, Perform the best course of action using TEAM (Transfer, Eliminate, Accept, Mitigate). This process should become largely automated. The degree of a risk can be weighed in terms of exposure, severity and probability. An exposure could include the number of people or resources that would be affected. Severity is the extent of possible loss. Last, what is the probability that a hazard will cause a loss?
DECIDE is a simple six-step tool offering you a logical way to make decisions. In the current context it is also considered a risk management tool. Your senses Detect that an unexpected event occurred. You use your insight and experience; you objectively analyse all available information. Then you Estimate the nature of the issue and how severe it might be. A caution: If you incorrectly define the problem, incorrect decision making will follow. Choose a course of action that leads to a desired outcome. Then you must Identify one or more solutions that will lead to a safe landing. Frozen by indecision may mean no decision and hence no corrective action. All the above is irrelevant if the pilot doesn’t Do something. Once corrective actions are decided, the pilot has to implement them. Then Evaluate the action to see if it worked. If not, the DECIDE model may have to be run again. Have a look at the flowchart, integrating PAVE, 3Ps, DECIDE, CARE, TEAM tools in the link!
The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario developed a five-step process for making decisions by occupational therapists. These specialists face all kinds of problems that may require simple or complex decisions. This decision-making framework offers key recommendations about each step of the process.
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Step 1. Describe the Situation
The therapists are advised to consider several questions that will help them to understand the situation: What are the key elements of the situation? What are the potential risks associated with the situation? What is the decision to be made? Are there personal assumptions, biases, or cultural differences that could impact decision making?
Step 2. Use the Fundamental Checklist
Six contributing factors that influence the decision-making processes are presented in this step: 1) Client and Family; 2) Organization and Practice Setting; 3) Theories and Evidence; 4) Professional Regulations; 5) Healthcare Team; 6) Law.
Step 3. Consult Others
This step brings forward the importance of different viewpoints and expertise. Some of the parties that may be involved in the decision process are colleagues, supervisors, lawyers or legal professionals, ethicists or an ethics board, regulatory bodies, other clinical or non-clinical professionals or subject matter experts.
Step 4. Identify Options and Choose the Best Action
The main points in this stage are: What makes this the best approach? Does the rationale sound reasonable when you say it aloud? What is your professional instinct telling you? How to recognize and address consequences and document the decision process?
Step 5. Evaluate the Decision
In this phase, the therapist must identify the lessons learned.
Orange is a global telecommunications operator with over 140,000 employees and over 260 million customers worldwide. It operates in 26 countries and had sales of 42.3 billion euros in 2020. It has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and prioritizing digital equality.
The purpose of this training material is to educate the recipients of the skills to identify problems, as well as to correctly categorize them due to the degree of complexity, and to set out activities aimed at solving them. In addition to the content that builds the proper foundations for the development of skills in solving complex problems, the course is equipped with tools for their identification, as well as tools to help solve them. Additionally, the course is completed with case studies, a self-assessment tool and a glossary of keywords. The course creates a comprehensive material for both building knowledge on how to solve complex problems and its practical application.
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John Smith is a CEO of JJ Electronics. His company is a monopolist in producing parts for standard cassette and tape recorders. Smith was afraid observing a digital technology revolution which hit the market of compact disc players, and he had to solve the problem whether to lead JJ into the digital age.
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From the one hand, digital tape players had legal obstacles in the American market, on the other hand Japanese and European market stared to growth.
The whole JJ Electronics team was involved in solving the problem. Firstly, Smith met with the company’s marketing department. Some of people forecasted that every audio element would be digital by the end of the century. In turn, others believed the fame of even compact disc players will be a thing of the past. Everyone agreed that company will need in depth market research included: conducting surveys, gathering data, and finding out what kind of products are really desired and what kind of price is acceptable for target group.
In turn, staff from research and development had a completely different approach. They were exhausted of making small improvements in products. They had been reading technical material about digital tape. In their opinion it is an exciting new technology that would give a chance for dynamic development. Time was the crucial factor. If JJ Electronics was to become an significant supplier of fragments for the new sundecks, it had to have the machineries ready.
A meeting of the CEo’s produced a scenario with which Smith was all too familiar. Previously, these executives had revealed that they could not claim one another, but they had faith in their staffs’ abilities to succeed where they had failed. Before Smith even came into the room, he knew what kind of recommendations he would get: to make a committee of representatives from each department and let them thoroughly explore all features of the choice.
Intellectually, Smith thought he was right. The previous thirty years had revealed that Americans had an greedy appetite for electronic devices. Quadraphonic sound and video discs were the only exclusions he could imagine of to the regulation that if someone created an enhanced way of duplicating images or sound, someone else would want to buy it.
But naturally, Smith was not so sure. He had a bad feeling about this new technology. He supposed the record firms, which had misplaced the battle to tape producers, might become collected with compact disc producers and audio device manufacturers to break the digital technology from inflowing the American market. So far, no American corporation had capitalized significantly in the technology, so no one had an curiosity in funding the legal fight to eliminate the fences to the new machines.
We all know the history of the Titanic. On April 14, 1912, the largest passenger ship then collided with an iceberg, as a result of which, out of 2,200 passengers and crew members, only 705 people were saved, pulled from 16 lifeboats by sailors from the other ship named Carpathia.
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Consider what could have been done to prevent such a massive catastrophe - but no, it is not about hitting an iceberg, but saving more people.
Data that can be useful in defining the problem and generating solutions:
The ship was sinking for about 2 hours and 40 minutes;
"Titanic" after a collision with an iceberg remains steerable for some time;
The iceberg protrudes above the water surface and is 120 meters long;
It is estimated that (on board the ship) there were about 40 cars.
At “X” company, which produces grout templates. These stencils are an indispensable accessory used by designers and installers as well as people and companies planning to finish a facility, house, apartment and, perhaps, first of all, DIY stores (hypermarkets).
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The joint template is an aluminum U-profile with a length of 4 to 12 cm, in which a sample of cement mortar is placed, which is to imitate a real joint between the tiles.
Most of the grout template manufacturers are small family businesses that make these products by hand with little machinery (most operations are hand-made).
Company “X” has developed and implemented a series of innovations aimed at improving work efficiency by mechanization a number of operations in the production process of joint formers, thus hoping to beat the competition.
After the trial period of introducing innovations, an increase in the number of production shortages was noticed. It was decided to carry out an internal control at the direct production department. The inspection report lists non-conformities related to insufficient processing quality or damage to the patterns at individual stages of the pattern production. The table below shows the number of deficiencies in individual production sections.
Bluerank it is a company planning complex strategies the presence of brands online based on concept Customer Journey. Additionally, the company creates advertising campaigns involving online marketing tools.
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The company uses modern tools not only to work remotely, but also to support group work or brainstorming even in pandemic time. In the case of the latter, the free MIRO online tool is used. Brainstorm participants have a common board at their disposal, on which they "insert" colorful cards with their ideas. Ideas can be organized, rearranged and even assigned colors denoting different point categories (for example: green for creativity, yellow for strengths, and black for weaknesses). By using the MIRO online tool, it is even possible to vote.
The role of the moderator is extremely important in the brainstorming process. The role of the moderator is to lead the team, inspire and stimulate creativity and prevent blockades. In addition, its role is to control time and control the implementation of individual stages of brainstorming. All for this, ending the brainstorming session, we do not leave any unfinished ideas. The more specific ideas are defined, the greater the chance that they will be implemented.
– When an experienced moderator monitors everything and runs the process efficiently, everyone can be equally involved in online brainstorming – claim Magdalena Euejda, Digital Strategy Manager in agency Bluerank.
Creately is an offer for teams working online. The company offers tools to help you sketch concepts, from process analysis to brainstorming plans. They are real-time collaboration tools - as the solution provider assures, “Creately can be customized for any workflow” as it connects to many popular cloud platforms.
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Creately proves that cooperation is the source of the greatest strength in solving problems and finding solutions. The offered tools are used for communication and cooperation in a visual form, it offers templates that allow you to organize work in a creative team. Among the tools we can find, among others templates for use during reverse brainstorming, which accelerate problem solving, decision making.
The solution is used, among others by teams from companies such as NASA, Amazon, eBay, PayPal, National Geographic.
Febreze - an air freshener manufactured by the global concern Procter & Gamble Company (hereinafter P&G). The sale of this product turned out to be a failure at first. As Charles Duhigg points out in the book entitled “Strength of habit”, the company spent several million dollars to launch a spray air freshener that removes odors from almost any space and fabric (the technology itself that was used to develop the solution was also captured by NASA for interior cleaning ships after they return from outer space).
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The problem that P&G faced when launching Febreze on the market was related to low customer interest, i.e. low sales.
To meet this challenge, researchers from the Procter & Gamble Company department began to analyze the causes of the problem, went to the field, and interviewed clients. Thanks to these activities, it was found that the most interested group of people are not (as assumed) the owners of animals (especially cats) or mothers of adolescents, but those who want to emphasize the efforts put in cleaning.
The reason for the failures leading to low sales was a wrong starting point. The producers assumed that we use the air freshener at the beginning of cleaning, thus directing the marketing to the wrong target group. Lack of observation, thinking according to the usual patterns did not allow for achieving high levels of sales (in this case, potential customers did not want to be associated with "uncleanness" / "dirt”).
It was only thanks to intense efforts, an attempt to investigate the causes of the problem, the question of why this is the case, to drill down and observe the topic, that P&G changed customer habits and solved the problem of small sales of Febreze brand products.
A decrease in sales in a cosmetics company
Tom is a sales manager in a Polish cosmetics company. He is responsible for the sale of the company in Poland. It has 8 sales representatives, each of them is responsible for sales in the area of two provinces. The company has been operating on the market for over 20 years, has an established position, a wide range of loyal customers. The company offers various products, tailored to the needs of customers, therefore it cannot be said to be seasonal in production. It has products that sell well each season, so its history has not seen significant fluctuations in revenues due to seasonality. In this respect, the highest praise is due to the managers who were able to recognize the needs of the market and adapt to the needs of customers, regardless of the time of the year. The cosmetics market is not simple, but the company is doing well in it.
Tom supervises the work of his staff by planning their work and accounting for its outcomes. In addition to the basic salary, the entire sales team, managed by Tom, is also accountable for the results of their work, they receive a bonus for results. The rule is that each representative is accounted for separately, which means that he has to generate an appropriate level of sales, while Tom is responsible for the entire team, he can only count on a bonus when the entire team generates appropriate results.
Tom has been working in the company for 5 years, his team changes from time to time, because in this industry it is difficult to find loyal employees, work is hard and stressful, and companies competing on the market often "buy" the best employees. Despite these difficulties, it has never happened that Tom's team did not achieve an appropriate level of sales. Tom could always count on a bonus for results.
Until that strange, different time has come. Tom noticed that sales decrease. Most of representatives were unable to work out the assumed plan. Tom treated it as a personal failure, he felt terrible, but he decided to double his efforts. He motivated people, he helped. The next month turned out to be no better. The team also did not develop the assumed plan. The hard work of Tom and his team did not bring the planned results.
Tom would like to know the cause or reasons of the situation.
Supporting Learners in:
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• Experimenting with operative frameworks for Critical Thinking
Analysis → Inference → Evaluation
• Understanding how Critical Thinking is framed into EntreComp
IDEAS & OPPORTUNITIES’ pillar for Critical Thinking
• Having a deepen look into EntreComp
Three Training Areas: IDEAS & OPPORTUNITIES, RESOURCES, INTO ACTION
• Get more familiar with the EntreComp Framework…
…the official EU framework for education and training on sense of initiative and entrepreneurial competences
Fresh of graduation, you just created your brand new LinkedIn account.
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You chose your favorite photo, you uploaded all of your titles and certificates, you asked your friends to help you validating your competences, and you’re doing the best as you can to maximize the visibility opportunities of your profile.
Not even two days after your first sign-in, a LinkedIn notification pops-up on your smartphone: a headhunter tracks down your account and, after introducing very briefly the company he/she works for, proposes you a first informal interview for a traineeship opportunity.
This catches you completely off guard: you know nothing about this person, you know nothing about this company, you know nothing about LinkedIn headhunting’s dynamics, at the same time the opportunity to secure a traineeship offer after just few days from your graduation is too tempting…
After thanking for the message, you start processing the idea that you cannot excel in your interview as long as you’re stuck in this information asymmetry.
A saying state: “in the era of information, remaining ignorant is a choice…”, with that in mind:
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You volunteer in an NGO working in the field of digital skills and IT proficiency for aspiring young entrepreneurs.
As a young professional, you’ve been tasked with the delicate activity of Stakeholder Identification: the results of your activity will inform the communication strategy that the PR office will implement for the next solar year.
Stakeholders are groups of interest, institutions, people in general that might be impacted, or might have an impact, on the activities that are planned, developed and implemented by the organization.
The head of the communication unit requests from you precise indications on the nature of the considered stakeholders (public authorities, third sector representatives, etc.), the general category their belong to and their actual relevancy for ongoing and future activities.
The aim of next year’s PR campaign is to:
Engage the stakeholders that you identified as (potential) proactive members of your NGO’s network of associated partners
Establish robust professional collaborations
Develop long-term institutional partnerships
You are requested to comment the following exhibit extrapolated from a recent 2020 Eurobarometer’s report, Europeans’ attitudes towards cyber security.
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As indicated by data, there seems to be a concentration of “not well informed” citizens among Mediterranean and Balkan countries, compared to the relatively higher awareness of Northern and Scandinavian ones…how come such a distinct disparity?
With the help of this graph, we wish to stimulate your critical thinking and help you come up by yourself with possible indicators and insights that clarify the phenomenon.
Developing, assessing and validating transversal key competences in the formal initial and continuing VET
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The main aim of the TRACK-VET project is to provide evidence based support to EU agencies, national governments and key stakeholders involved in designing and implementing policies on developing, assessing and validating transversal key competences in the formal VET system.
This will be done by:
analysing systemic solutions, practices applied in six European countries as well as opinions of key stakeholder
developing synthesis report containing model solutions, practices and recommendations.
TRACK-VET project defines transversal key competences (TKC) as a subgroup of the 8 key competences defined in the Council Recommendation from 2006/2018, namely: learning to learn, social and civic competences, initiative-taking and entrepreneurship, and cultural awareness and expression.
Available for stakeholders' review are descriptions of learning outcomes related to transversal key competences in VET systems (for the countries represented by the project) one of which pertains exclusively to critical thinking:
Repository of Learning Outcomes describing TKC. TRACK-VET project.xlsx
eLene4Life - Learning and Interacting to Foster Employability
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The main objectives of eLene4life were to:
overcome skills mismatches with respect to soft skills;
develop new innovative curricula and educational methods integrating active learning, addressing commonly encountered barriers such as large class sizes and physical spaces.
improve the relevance of HE curricula in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world.
eLene4Life reached over 9000 stakeholders from the HE and corporate sectors. Over 40 teachers were interviewed for the transnational analysis of active learning for soft skills development in HE, and an equivalent number of corporate stakeholders contributed to the parallel analysis.
Through this rich collection of high-quality and easy-to-use resources and the growing Community of Practice, eLene4Life has contributed to raising awareness among HE teachers of the needs and practices in the corporate sector in order to support curriculum innovation.
Similarly, corporate representatives have gained a better understanding of HE practices. Ultimately, the impact for students will be a more relevant learning experience, offering them the chance to develop contextualised transversal skills during the course of their studies and thus be better prepared for the workforce and society in general, as competent and confident 21st century citizens.
Project website and online resources: http://elene4life.eu/
THINK4JOBS – Critical Thinking for Successful Jobs
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THINK4JOBS is endorsed by a consortium of five universities and five labour market organizations from five countries.
It stems from the consolidated experience of the partnership in Critical Thinking (CT) teaching, training and research, and their commitment to empowering University-Business Cooperation (UBC) in Europe as a need to the successful employment and transition of new graduates from the university to the labour market.
To that end, it aims to develop relevant tools and unprecedented opportunities (due to their potential in terms of innovation, applicability, impact and transferability) for the effective development, support and assessment of students’ CT in the transition into a professional context using apprenticeships as a privileged interface.
The activities involved to achieve the project goals are strategically aligned in the following five outputs:
Output 1: THINK4JOBS Toolkit with 10 CT work-based learning scenarios for each of the five different professional fields addressed by the consortium, namely Veterinary Medicine, Teacher Education, Business and Economics, and Business Informatics.
Output 2: THINK4JOBS Training for 12 HE instructors and 12 labour market tutors. Specifically, training packages will be developed, targeting the empowerment of HEI instructors and labour market tutors in conceptual and procedural knowledge of CT as well as in the exploitation of the Toolkit in courses and apprenticeships.
Output 3: THINK4JOBS CT blended apprenticeships curricula (12) will be developed through close collaboration of HE instructors and labour market tutors as working pairs will be developed.
Output 4: THINK4JOBS guidelines/protocol for CT transfer from curricula to the labour market will be an output that will emerge after the implementation and evaluation of the CT apprenticeships.
Output 5: THINK4JOBS Special issue will be a special scientific issue in a JCR/SCOPUS Journal concerning “CT: bridging a successful transition between university and labour market”.
Project website and further resources:
21st Century Skills (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity & Innovation, Self-Direction, Making Global Connections, Making Local Connections, Using Technology as a Tool for Learning) are crucial for quality of education and training. All educators, researchers and labour market are agreed about the importance of mentioned skills but there is a lack of teaching materials and methodology.
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The specific objectives are:
create concrete and innovative teaching materials and pedagogical model concerning teaching of 21st Century Skills for HE teaching staff,
foster cooperation between labour market and HEI organizations.
create an online learning platform in order to help development of 21st Century Skills for HEI organizations staff and students at the EU level.
Project website and online resource: https://www.catch21st.org/
CRITHINKEDU – Critical Thinking Across the European Higher Education Curricula
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CRITHINKEDU arises both from the background and ongoing concern of some European Higher Education Institutions (EHEI), business corporations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) to better support and align the development of students’ Critical Thinking (CT) with labour market needs and societal challenges.
The project carried-out several research and training activities, leading to the development of 6 innovative outputs that can be assumed as a pioneer toolkit to the sustainability of CT education around the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
OUTPUT 1 (O1) - A European collection of CT skills and dispositions needed in different professional fields for the 21st century.
OUTPUT 2 (O2) - A European review on CT educational practices in Higher Education Institutions
OUTPUT 3 (O3) – “The CRITHINKEDU European course on CT education for university teachers: from conception to delivery” describes the 5-day teachers’ training course, collectively designed by the partnership considering the results of O2.
OUTPUT 4 (O4) - Promoting CT in European Higher Education Institutions: towards an educational protocol.
OUTPUT 5 (O5) – Special Issue on ‘CT in Higher Education’, published in the “Studies in Higher Education” journal (Vol.44, 2019).
OUTPUT 6 (O6) - Infographic: CRITHINKEDU IMPACT REPORT – A journey on CT in European higher education. It consists in a “marketing” tool that summarizes, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the main activities and outputs achieved during the project lifetime, as well as their impact on different audiences.
Web platform: https://crithinkedu.utad.pt/en/crithinkedu/
All other online resources are available here: CRITHINKEDU
A month ago, you were hired to replace the previous social media officer of a small organisation that produces, customises and delivers beauty kits and cosmetics.
Apparently, your organisation is losing traction on social media and experiences much lower feedbacks and engagement rate than expected. This negative trend is not new to them, but the causes are not known yet…since few years now, it seems difficult for them to grow their online public – and most importantly – the conversion from promo banner(s) to online shop.
Your supervisor points out that the digital market represents for them a big opportunity to which they wish to capitalise on. She/he confesses you that, so far, they lacked of a robust social media strategy: an alternative might be outsourcing the function to an external provider of digital services, but they much better prefer to nurture internally this competence and expertise.
You are tasked to design and plan the next social media campaign for the incoming year, and detailing:
Audit measures and parameters
Networks to cover
However, you realise very soon to have a bigger issue to deal with first: due to the overall lack of a structured social media strategy, you miss most of the historic data, meaning: comprehensive and detailed information of what has been done so far).
In this module, you will learn the concept of cognitive flexibility, understand its’ role and importance in work and everyday situations. The module also presents ways to assess the level of cognitive flexibility in adults and offers specific and non-specific tools to improve it.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has totally changed our perception about the way we work and study. People are spending more time in the virtual environment compared to the previous times. Zoom meetings, Teams conferences etc., is the new working environment. By one click a person can move from one task and the country to totally different task in other country. Also there is no physical traveling between the meetings that means that time to switch between the tasks is close to zero. At the same time those meeting often are conducted at home where there are many other issues that might need some attention and even action. The situations can be very different depending on the family status and living conditions of the person. From the managerial perspective the new situation also creates some significant challenges. It is harder to control the employees whether they work or not. The new control mechanisms need to be developed to ensure that the work is being conducted properly and the deadlines are met or not.
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The above-described circumstances demand a significant cognitive flexibility to cope with work related as well as personal tasks. All this is accompanied by additional stress emerging from the fact that we are working more in the virtual environment. Not everyone is having the same ability to switch between the tasks. Usually, younger generation is having shorter switching times but with age the cognitive flexibility decreases.
The cognitive flexibility is decreasing with the age. The older people get the more difficult it is to change between the different tasks. On the contrary the more experienced personnel can conduct different tasks and make decisions faster because of longer experience that allows one to work smarter. This is a dilemma from the managerial perspective. On the one hand senior managers can make faster decisions on the other they might have difficulties to cope with several tasks simultaneously. For quite a long time companies have been focusing on the development of hard skills. Trainings were conducted and personnel was motivated to learn different skills that are directly related to the tasks that a persona has to perform e.g. marketing people were trained to develop successful marketing campaigns and HR people were trained how to recruit the best employees. However insufficient attention was paid to the development of soft skills that could enhance the utilization of the hard skill significantly. It is a trade off that managers are facing and they need to find a solution. Of course the solution can be specific depending on the industry and type of personnel in focus but in general the issue remains the same: how to facilitate the career development by the combination of hard and soft skills and how to tailor this activity depending on the type of the company, industry it is operating in and personnel in focus.
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The process of globalization is something that is evident and has been acceleration during the last decades. There was some slowdown in this process during the first phase of Covid-19 pandemic. There were even some predictions that the pandemic will stop the globalization and even return to the previous system with closed borders and economies. However now we see that the globalization is not slowing down but again taking pace. Changed working habits and increased use of virtual tools have allowed the international co-operation to increase even more. There are still some areas where the impact of pandemic is still an obstacle e.g. logistics and transportation are still struggling to deliver different products from the place of manufacturing to the place of consumption.
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The increased international co-operation also demands sufficient understanding of culture related issues and ability to adapt to different international cultural environments. So cognitive flexibility can be attributed to the ability to switch quickly between the communication with people representing different cultures. Here also one should remember that not all cultures are equally flexible when it comes to the switching of different tasks or concepts. So even if you have the ability to switch and adapt to the communication with different cultures it is important to have a sufficient knowledge about particular specific attributes of the culture that you are communicating with. So far there have been multiple attempts to explain cultural aspects and break them down into smaller variable that are explaining a cultural aspects of the behaviour. One such example is Geert Hofstede and his 6 cultural dimensions: masculinity, power distance, Individualism, uncertainty avoidance, long term orientation and indulgence. These dimensions help to understand what is likely to be expected from a particular culture and can help to adapt easier to the cross cultural communication. It can be expected that knowledge about those indexes can help to decrease the switching time and cost and improve the cognitive flexibility.
The topic and the concept of cognitive flexibility are rather new and unexplored in case of Latvia. Extensive search in literature and various sources led to a conclusion that such topic is only emerging and therefore there is not enough information or other substance that would constitute a good case for analysis. However there are multiple initiatives conducted in order to develop the understanding of the concept and facilitate more extensive teaching and development of the cognitive flexibility as a part of social skills toolbox that would be necessary to improve the employability.
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Cognitive flexibility origins and development in Latvia
The definition of cognitive flexibility is quite broad and there is no consensus reached so far. Usually Cognitive Flexibility (CF) is defined as ability to switch between the two concepts or work simultaneously on multiple concepts or topics. Sometimes CF is simply described as shifting: between the concepts, tasks or strategies. Simplified definition opens some more gateways where development of some aspects related to cognitive flexibility can be spotted. In Latvia primarily this is the area of pedagogics and education for kids. The most comprehensive material in the field is developed by the University of Latvia: A handbook in psychology for young teachers 1. The handbook is developed to support young teachers and improve their understanding of cognitive processes for kids. That includes also the ability to work with multiple tasks or switch easily between the tasks. So even if not explicitly stated it can be attributed to CF. Cognitive psychology and to some extent also flexibility to switch between tasks are mainly focused on the kids from age 0 to 18. A good example on this is the informative material prepared by State Education Content Centre2. The material mainly analyses the different development stages for kids but there are also some useful tools provided for the assessment of cognitive capabilities. Those tools can be used for all ages e.g. Woodcock Johnson cognitive test can be used for people from 2 to 90 years of age but in Latvia it is primarily used for kids and younger generation. This allows us to conclude that there exists a stereotype that after the secondary school there is no need to pay attention to the cognitive processes and flexibility.
This does not mean that the cognitive psychology completely disappears from the educational agenda. It is still there but only to some limited extent. This covers primarily education of teachers and psychologists. The subject was not identified in some other educational programs e.g. management or human resource development
Cognitive flexibility the identified initiatives
The extensive search for initiatives that can be attributed to the cognitive flexibility gave a very limited to none results. One of the human resource management consulting companies Organization Development Academy (ODA) has developed a seminar material3: Self development, experience exchange seminar for State Chancellery of Latvia. One of the topics identified on the seminar agenda was cognitive flexibility. However, it was not possible to identify if the course really took place and if yes what was the target group.
Conclusions and ways forward
The above provided argumentation clearly indicates lack of sufficient focus on cognitive flexibility for students at the university level or managers. Currently it is difficult to explain why the CF is primarily focused on kids but completely forgotten at the later stages of life. One possible explanation could be that CF is very much in focus during the secondary education assuming that study skills developed during that stage are sufficient for the whole life.
International evidence clearly shows: that is not the case and cognitive flexibility can be improved during the life or professional career. Thus it can be suggested that for Latvia some decisions should be made and actions taken to reintroduce the focus of CF at the later stages e.g. university studies. Next step in turn would be to develop appropriate pedagogical materials to facilitate development of CF depending on the area of studies, area of application etc.
Academic advising the origins:
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The idea to support students with some personal guidance in the education process has been on the agenda for many years. Students are all very different personalities and the issues and challenges they face are very different. Some students are more open and extroverted, some are very introverted. There are significant differences in cognitive flexibility as well e.g. some students can easily switch between the different tasks but for some this process is very quick and smooth. No matter to which group the student belongs it is important to pay attention to cognitive flexibility and better understand the mental processes taking place in one's mind.
Considering the above mentioned arguments in 2014 the decision was made to introduce academic advising to all Year 1 students at SSE Riga. Initially it was started as a pilot project but soon it became evident that it is very beneficial and appreciated by students thus it was made permanent and mandatory. Basically it consists of 4 face to face meetings during the academic year. During those meetings the advisor and advisee discuss the issues related to study performance, well being etc.
Cognitive flexibility and academic advising
During the advising sessions the most important tool of analysis is self reflection. There is no universal advice that can be given to each student that would work equally well. Thus students are asked to constantly evaluate their performance and mental processes to understand what affects their performance. This includes cognitive flexibility as well. First of all students are encouraged to understand the switching time between different tasks. E.g. they are asked to assess how quickly they can change from one task to another? How fast can they get “into the topic” of the next task? etc. Later the switching is discussed in more depth e.g. how the switching time changes depending on the type of the task or study subject? What are the other factors that affect the switching time etc.
Impact on students
The discussions on cognitive flexibility are having a significant impact on the study process and better understanding of the ways how to improve. Furthermore there is also a significant impact on the employability after graduation. Understanding of cognitive processes and in particular cognitive flexibility can significantly improve work performance and wellbeing as well. In addition there are significant benefits from the self reflection skills that can be used for further personal development.
Impact on advisors
Besides the significant positive impact on the students there is a positive influence on the advisors as well. First of all it is related to constant improvement in understanding of the cognitive processes of students including cognitive flexibility. The substantial amount of observations allow the advisors to see the patterns and make more general conclusions on the factors that affect cognitive flexibility and study skills. Equally so this knowledge can be utilised by the advisors to better understand their cognitive processes and find the best way to combine the cognitive flexibility with well being.
Conclusions and ways forward
Academic advising and cognitive flexibility as one of the covered topics proved to be very beneficial for both students and academic advisors. Thus it can be suggested that such type of support for students should be further developed and spread. This implies further development within SSE Riga but also spreading this as a best practice for other universities and HEI’s as well.
What is cognitive flexibility?
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Psychologists explain cognitive flexibility as the ability to switch or shift thinking from one conceptual representation to another, especially in response to changes in task requirements, spontaneity and feedback from the environment. Cognitive flexibility theoretically has always been thought to be one of the three primary Executive Functions, mediated by the frontal lobes of the brain (Carlson et al., 2016). The triad also includes working memory (WM), our ability to temporarily hold information, and response inhibition, our ability to resist temptation and impulse. When testing these functions and examining their interrelationships, cognitive flexibility is weakly correlated with IQ and WM, although IQ and WM are highly correlated and tend to be inherited. Whereas, cognitive flexibility is less susceptible to heritable factors and therefore more susceptible to environmental factors including training and education (Friedman et al. 2006; 2017). This raises the question whether we can train cognitive flexibility and thereby enhance education.
Cognitive flexibility in an organizational context
To sustain competitiveness in a fast-changing economy, organizations must be agile and resilient. Employing a workforce that adapts quickly to dynamic environmental changes, effectively learns new ways to perform jobs, and makes decisions when faced with unexpected challenges leads to agile organizational performance (Pulakos et al., 2000). Employees are simultaneously expected to switch between various job roles and forms within and across organizational boundaries (Eby et al., 2003). When faced with a rapidly changing workplace and technological advances, flexibility and adaptability are considered as key competencies for individual and organizational career development (Griffin & Hesketh, 2003).
Adaptive behavior or the ability of an individual to adjust his decision making according to changing demands in an increasingly complex and turbulent work environment is relevant to achieve successful job performance (Charbonnier-Voirin & Roussel, 2012). The World Economic Forum (2016) has even regarded cognitive flexibility as one of the top ten core job skills necessary during the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Gray, 2016). With the ongoing advances in information and automation technology, individuals who have more flexible mental processing capabilities can maintain higher levels of performance relative to those lacking this skill.
The aforementioned evidence suggests the importance of cognitive flexibility in successful employee job performance as well as its contribution in achieving organizational objectives.
Operational criteria for cognitive flexibility in an educational context
Cognitive Flexibility Theory (CFT) in pedagogy has been developed to achieve four main learning outcomes:
Helping students grasp important yet complex subject matters;
Foster flexible application of knowledge in real-world settings;
Alternate underlying approaches to knowledge perception;
Promote hypermedia educational environments that encourage complex learning and flexible thinking.
The main metaphor used in the educational model of Cognitive Flexibility Theory is having a criss-cross learning landscape, which implies nonlinearity in the way of understanding a complex subject matter at different points in time, for different purposes and from different directions (Spiro et al., 1991). By criss-crossing a conceptual field of study, the students have the opportunity to attain knowledge in many ways. When teaching in this manner, the perceiver of knowledge can examine and interpret take-aways from different vantage points; thereby, training the ability to build new cognitive structures and apply theory to new situations.
In complex and irregular domains of knowledge, learning processes which instill greater cognitive flexibility are those that present knowledge with differentiating perspectives and provide students with the ability to construct the learned concepts. To effectively learn cognitively flexible skills and to develop flexible cognitive processing abilities, irregular and flexible learning environments that allow the same concepts to be studied from various perspectives must be present. Explicit and systematic learning conditions that facilitate the development of cognitive flexibility are those that provide students with a large set of cases, representations and diverse or irregular examples in an open thinking environment. The application of cases and minicases prepare students to apply the learned general principles in action-based real-world settings (Spiro et al., 2007; Feltovich et al., 1996).
To gain a better understanding of a complex theory students should be encouraged to apply conceptual insights in a great variety of ways and manners that explain the phenomena through irregular patterns. When trying to explain ill-structured domains of knowledge, applying educational strategies that are used to teach well-structured domains such as in introductory learning may result in in oversimplification, overregularization and excessive dependence on context-independent representations of theory (Spiro et al., 1988).
Educational scholars such as Bourgeois & Nizet (1999) and Frenay & Bédard (2004) propose that, in order to develop cognitive flexibility, students should examine knowledge in different and unfamiliar situations. Such methods of learning reinforce knowledge transfer and strengthen the retention of new knowledge. Furthermore, it is beneficial to provide students with the opportunity to analyze and rethink the newly acquired concepts from alternate points-of-view. To facilitate this learning approach, lecturers ought to ensure: (1) the ability of students expressing their personal interpretations; (2) a compilation and structuredness of opposing points of view; (3) suggestions of various methodologies that manage different perspectives. When presented with alternative points of view, students should systematically switch between them and connect the various interpretations to one-another.
To sum up the above described practices clearly indicate the need to pay a special attention to the development of cognitive flexibilty for students. Such activity Will have a significant impact on the employability in a short but also long run.
The company „General Groceries “ (GG)
The General Groceries is one of leading grocery stores that operates in many EU countries. The company is providing the customers with high level service selling grocery products but also providing different additional services e.g. after sales services, diet suggestions, recipe ideas, cook books free of charge etc.
The company was rapidly developing until the Covid outbreak. The pandemic and different restrictions introduced forced GG to restructure their operations. This relates to both their employees as well as provided services.
Considering employees the company tried to decrease the number of employees in stores and minimize the possible contacts. In practice it means that there were fewer employees in stores and they had to perform larger variety of tasks. Also GG had to adapt to restrictions by introducing more remote services to their clients.
Now imagine that you are store manager in one of the grocery stores and you need develop the task portfolios for various employees and improve their performance taking into account the impact of the pandemic.