mass of unskilled labor was used to tend Service func- the machines. A much smaller group tions even began of broadly skilled and broadly assigned to dominate manu- white-collar and technical elites were facturing where making installed at the top of large-scale organi- products became a simple parlor zational pyramids. tricks and more of the value added came from marketing, financing, customer service and managing quality, variety, Something happened in the early 1970s. customization, innovation, convenience, Suddenly the United States’ mass-pro- novelty and speeded operations. duction system seemed to lose its com- In addition, as the rest of the world petitive edge. People began to demand dug out from the rubble of World War rom the Civil War until the more than mass-produced standard- II and began to prosper, they began to 1970s, the United States was the ized goods and services because often compete with us at home and in world world’s most successful mass-pro- they could afford more. Family income markets. We are no longer insulated from duction economy, the very best at doubled between 1946 and 1972 in the head-to-head global competition. The producing standardized goods and United States, and America’s economic increasing competition and the demand services at least cost and selling them at “golden age” was mirrored in the rest of for new kinds of value added have cre- the lowest price. the world. ated more intense, constantly escalating These mass-production successes As the world got richer, the appeal and increasingly complex competitive required rigorous discipline and narrow of standardized commodities and ser- requirements. The traditional competi- skill. Final products and services were vices declined. Competition shifted rap- tion based on the ability to mass pro- broken down into their smallest repro- idly to new kinds of value added that duce standardized goods and services and ducible components and rigid single-pur- required new kinds of skill. With added sell them at low cost has been gradually pose machinery was built to mass-pro- wealth consumption shifted to services displaced by a competition based on a duce standardized components. A large like health care, education and media. diverse mix of requirements and new kinds of value added, including: markets. In the 21st century that means of mass production have given way to Productive investment. The new every child needs some postsecondary an explosion of choices. ABC, NBC and knowledge economy requires constant education or training. CBS were good enough in the 1950s, but investments in human capital, technol- Quality. Quality is a primary stand- nowadays there are 500 cable channels ogy and infrastructure, and if we don’t ard for competitive success. Busy people and people still complain there’s nothing invest to keep up and get ahead, our have no time for products or services worthwhile on TV and they need more competitors will. The old-time religion that don’t work for them, and they can choices. The ability to produce variety of cost reduction does not work in the afford more. Quality requires lots of new requires workers with the creativity and knowledge economy because it tends to skills up and down the line ranging from problem-solving skills necessary to pro- reduce investments in the constantly technical competency to the ability to vide more than one-size-ﬁts-all products flourishing mix of skilled employees, take responsibility for the ﬁnal product or services. information-based technologies and ﬂex- or service regardless of one’s job descrip- Customization. One-size-ﬁts-all stand- ible organizational formats necessary tion. In a quality workplace, “It’s not my ardization has been superseded by cus- to meet new performance standards. In job” doesn’t cut it anymore. tomized goods and services from clothing the knowledge economy, productivity is Variety. As competition has inten- to health care, ﬁnancial management, pursued through constant investments in sified, plain vanilla is no longer good medicine and salad bars. Customiza- the synergies between technology and enough. To satisfy the growing diversity tion, like variety, requires the ability to skill that lead to institutions that are suf- of demand in both domestic and global be able to problem solve and empathize ﬁciently robust to compete in modern markets, the once-standardized offerings with customer wants and needs. Convenience. Busy people crave As the structure of the U.S. economy higher-level thinking strategies to solve convenience. Why drive anywhere or has shifted from an industrial economy problems. Similarly, writing on the job stand in line when you can get what you to a postindustrial service economy, new often requires analysis, conceptualization, want 24/7 on the Internet. Convenience skill requirements have emerged. In gen- synthesis and distillation of information requires workers who can empathize with eral, the demand for speciﬁc academic and clear articulation of points and pro- customer needs and use communication and vocational skills has been augmented posals. In a work environment, math and listening skills necessary for good with a growing need for general skills, skills need to be contextual and rooted old-fashioned customer service. including learning, reasoning, communi- in problem identiﬁcation, reasoning, esti- Consistency. Meeting performance cating, general problem-solving skills and mation and problem solving. standards some of the time is not enough. behavioral skills. Foundation skills, or knowing how Workers require dependability and com- to learn. Learning is now a fact of life if mitment in order to meet efficiency, workers are going to keep up with the quality, variety, customization, conve- blur of change in modern workplaces. nience, speed, innovation and social- Workers who have “learned how to responsibility standards all the time. learn” can achieve competency in other Speed and continuous innovation. required workplace skills, but for those Various benchmarks exist for improve- who have not, learning is not as rapid, ments in speed or cycle time. The ﬁrst nor as efﬁcient or comprehensive. is generating a new idea ahead of the Communication skills: Listening and competition. But getting ideas first is oral communication. Communication is not enough. The only way to establish central to the smooth operation of all trust and an organizational brand name work environments. Workers spend most with clients is by getting new ideas off of their days in some form of communica- the drawing board and into the hands of The new postindustrial jobs in indus- tion. They communicate with each other customers. Improving or expanding value tries like business services, education, about procedures and problems, and they in products or services incrementally and health care and office service require also relay and receive information to and continuously to stay ahead of the compe- higher levels of interpersonal and prob- from customers. tition also is critical. There’s a Starbucks lem-solving skills because the work Effective oral communication also on every corner for a reason. entails higher levels of human interac- requires that workers have sufficient Social responsibility. As consumers tion and personalized responses to peo- self-awareness to understand how they are given more and more goods and serv- ple’s wants and needs. are perceived and what they hear. It is ices to choose from, the values associated These same behavioral skills are important for workers to understand and with a particular brand can make a com- required in high-technology and man- value communication approaches that are petitive difference. Consumers who ufacturing jobs as well because the different in style from their own, as well become wealthier and have more choices technology itself takes on more of the as adjust their style when in communica- tend to want to satisfy more than their rote, manual processing tasks, allowing tion with someone who has a style that is material needs. Customers want products employees to spend more time interact- different from their own. Listening skills and services from organizations that, at ing with each other to exploit the new also affect the efﬁcient transmission and least, do not violate their values and, at ﬂexible technologies in order to provide receipt of information in the workplace. most, represent their values. cutting-edge value added such as qual- Communication skills are at the heart ity, variety, customization, convenience, of getting and keeping customers and speed and innovation. gathering product feedback, as well as for The fundamental change in skill require- participating in work teams and resolving ments in the American economic system conﬂicts on the job. has been due to the shift from the indus- Most employers today cannot compete Adaptability: Problem solving and trial era to the postindustrial era of the successfully without a workforce that can creative thinking. An institution’s ability knowledge economy. The new knowledge use solid academic skills in applied set- to achieve its strategic objectives often economy that has emerged has replaced tings. Increased interaction with sophis- depends on how quickly and effectively the rote skills of the assembly lines of ticated computerized machinery requires it can transcend barriers to improved yesteryear with ﬂexible technologies and good technical reading skills for efﬁcient productivity and competitiveness. These “high-performance work systems” that rely use. And writing is frequently the ﬁrst pressures put problem solving and cre- on more skilled and autonomous work- step in communicating with customers, ative thinking at a premium — at all ers. In an era of ﬂexible production and documenting competitive transactions or levels of an organization. service delivery systems and more rapid successfully moving new ideas into the Problem solving includes the ability economic change, workers not only need workplace. to recognize and deﬁne problems, invent better technical preparation, they also Employers need workers who have and implement solutions, and track and need sufﬁciently robust skills to adapt to mastered reading processes that allow evaluate results. Cognitive skills, group- changing requirements on the job. them to locate information and use interaction skills and problem-processing skills are all crucial to successful prob- At its most basic level, leadership lem solving. New approaches to problem means that a person can inﬂuence others solving, organizational design or product to act in a certain way. Organizational development all spring from the individ- skills are the building blocks for leader- ual capacity for creative thinking. ship. Unaccompanied by them, leader- Group effectiveness: Interpersonal ship skills can be misplaced and even skills, negotiation and teamwork. Interper- counterproductive. Every person may sonal, negotiation and teamwork skills need, at times, to lead or influence a are basic tools for achieving the ﬂexibil- work group or provide a vision of what ity and adaptability that America’s work- the organization as a whole requires. force must have to remain competitive. Personal management: Self-esteem The use of workplace teams to meet and motivation/goal setting. In the past, complex sets of standards is now com- employers viewed workers with solid monplace in many American businesses. occupational-speciﬁc skills as sufﬁcient Change strategies also are dependent on for success on the job. But as workers are the ability of employees to pull together increasingly called upon to make deci- and refocus on the new common goal. sions at the point of production or point This pooling of resources, however, of sale and display good interpersonal frequently requires team members to have skills when working in teams or with an array of skills that individual or routine customers, the conﬁdence that engenders jobs do not demand. Quality teamwork success in these areas springs from a posi- results when team members know how tive sense of self-worth or self-esteem. to recognize and cope with various and Self-esteem is at the core of many unique personalities and when each has a other skills required on the job. Work- regardless of external experiences of suc- sense of the cultures and approaches that ers with a healthy self-esteem are able to cess or failure. Cognitive styles are the recognize their current skills, be aware of various ways people process information their impact on others and understand gained from experience — positive cogni- their emotional set points and abilities to tive styles encourage success and negative cope with stress, change and criticism on styles encourage failure. the job. They also are able to recognize Those with a negative cognitive style their own limits and seek new informa- tend to see failure as a result of causes tion or assistance to solve problems and that are permanent, pervasive and per- construct solutions. sonal. They tend to discount successes as Workplace success also depends on temporary, limited in scope and unrelated workers who are motivated and able to to personal merit. People with a negative set and meet reasonable goals. Workers’ cognitive style tend to be less successful lack of motivation or goal-setting skills because they cede control over the choices can produce an organizational undercur- in their lives to their circumstances, rent of repeated errors, absenteeism and reducing their ability to act and persevere. quality problems, or it can construct bar- The available evidence and old-fashioned other team members represent. Interper- riers along the path to change. Poor per- common sense suggest that the feelings of sonal and negotiation skills are the cor- formance can often be lined to deﬁcien- helplessness that underlie a negative cog- nerstones of successful teamwork. Unre- cies in self-esteem or motivation. nitive style are a learned behavior subject solved conﬂicts can sap productivity and Resilience: Cognitive style. The to environmental inﬂuences. If those sub- short-circuit strategic plans. new, fast-paced and unforgiving global jected to persistent negative feedback in Inﬂuence: Organizational effectiveness economy results in constant change in their interactions with the world learn to and leadership. Both organizational effec- skills required for speciﬁc jobs. Constant perceive failures as permanent, pervasive tiveness and leadership skills are essential economic and technological change also and personal, this can lead to learned to successful institutions. To be effective discourages growth in job tenure and helplessness unless extraordinary compen- in an organization, workers need a sense increases the overall rate of job creation satory support is provided. of the cultural workings of the organiza- and job destruction. The subtlest behav- tion and how their actions affect orga- ioral asset in managing school, work and nizational and strategic objectives. At life in the constant ﬂux of modern times At some point, everyone has to put an the same time, organizational effective- is a positive cognitive style. occupational point on their educational ness requires that workers understand The notion of “positive cognitive style” pencil. A small share of students begins what organizations are, why they exist is more than self-esteem or the power of to receive occupational preparation in and how to navigate the social waters of positive thinking. Self-esteem and positive high school through vocational programs, varying types of organizations. thinking are internal attitudes that persist career academies and other applied curri- cula. In general, with notable exceptions, high school vocational preparation does not provide long-lasting earnings advan- tages. For the most part, these programs survive as an alternative applied pedagogy to meet statewide academic performance standards and as an alternative prepara- tion for further postsecondary education. Among those who terminate their education with high school, most get job training primarily on the job, although as a general rule those with the most post- secondary education get the most train- ing on the job. For most high school students, occu- pational preparation continues or begins with some kind of postsecondary educa- tion or training. A smaller share of elite college graduates continues their gen- eral education through the bachelor’s degree and then gets their occupational or professional education in graduate or professional school. As a general rule, those with the richest mix of educational attainment and occupational or profes- sional education earn the most money. To some extent, the increase in the demand for both education and occu- pational credentialing derives from the changing relationships between employ- ers and employees. As change accelerates on the job, employers need better learn- ers and cannot take the time to develop talent from the ground up. Education credentials increasingly are used to signal learning potential. And when relation- ships between employers and employees become less stable, reliable educational and occupational credentials become more important in matching individual skills to new job requirements. The increasing reach of economic market competition raises educational hiring standards. As economic markets for goods, services and labor go from local to regional to national to global, skill requirements also escalate from local to national and, ultimately, to world- class standards. In addition, in larger geographic markets employers are hiring strangers, putting a premium on proven education and occupational degrees and certiﬁed experience.