Susan Yamada, Director of University of Hawaii Ventures

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Entrepreneurial Thinking in the 21st Century Workplace

Did you know your current occupation could be obsolete in the next 5 to 10 years?  As global economies evolve, and the accessibility of information increases through technology, it is critical that we gage our skill level to that needed in the 21st century workplace.  Here are the four core C’s: 

1.     Creativity: Be innovative, curious and imaginative.  Think outside the box to find new solutions to old and most importantly, future problems.  Utilize new tools and models to be agile and adaptable to the organization.

2.     Critical Thinking: Learn to ask good questions - “Why?”  Practice creative destruction, as nothing can remain the same.  Evaluate whether your current practices need to change.  Avoid the ‘analysis paralysis’.  Too much information can often cloud what is important to take action.

3.     Collaboration: Build cross cultural project-based teams.  Understand that top down management is no longer effective.  It is important to be open to opinions and skills of the front-line team and allow individuals to speak up.  However, you will need to build alliances by working alongside these individuals first before taking in their recommendations.  Build trust.

4.     Communication: This is both written and verbal.  Garner the ability to express your view clearly by having a voice of non-confrontational tone and most importantly learning to listen.  

To create, continue the four skills above and keep in mind the following: 

  • Gray is the new black.  Learn to make decisions without perfect information.  Decision-making is no longer based on black and white information.  
  • Be an innovator and take initiative.  Volunteer for new projects.  Look for solutions, not just problems.  If you are not failing, you are not taking the initiative. We learn through our mistakes.  To be innovative, continuous learning is vital – new business ventures, models, markets, trends and technology.  
  • Risk taking is the new sexy.  Practice by taking risks every day.  To start, take small steps.  Offer your opinions to gain confidence.  Empower yourself by learning new skills and pushing your comfort zone.  Those that don’t fail are not setting high enough goals. Get used to feeling uncomfortable.  
  • Establish a new legacy.  Start by refocusing on the 4-C’s.  Big companies need to act like startups to stay viable.  Keep pace with the change by continuously learning new skills and being comfortable with discomfort.  

Occupations are evolving every minute.  There are new positions that did not exist 10 years ago. Hawaii’s economy is diversifying, creating these new positions to support innovation and remain viable for the future.  That is why it is critical that we continue to re-evaluation knowledge, skills and ability to ride through hard times by providing team support and collaboration. Additionally, embrace the four C’s – Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication.