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Trend 12 February Feb 2021 1120 12 February 2021

Anti-fragility, courage, flexibility: all the strategic soft skills required to cope with the future

Kickstarting our lives again will be a difficult test for everyone. To ensure that this is achieved with maximum success, companies and people will need to develop new skills and expertise. Luca Foresti, CEO of the Santagostino Medical Centre, presents us with his thoughts on this.

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The year just passed has shaken every section of society to the core. Companies, institutions and people have had to accept instability and crisis as an ontological part of reality. It is inevitable that the future, as it emerges, will still look unclear. Yet it seems obvious that to be part of it we will all have to equip ourselves with new skills, transversal competencies, enabling us to withstand effectively the constant state of flux in our world.

This subject was discussed, including an insight into his personal and professional experience, by Luca Foresti, CEO of the Santagostino Medical Centre, together with Donna Moderna journalist Myriam De Filippi, during the PHYD workshop "Quali skill per il futuro che ci attende [What are the skills of the future that await us], which was streamed online last December.

What do we need to face the future? What skills will we have to equip ourselves with to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past?

First and foremost, individuals and companies need to learn to be flexible, they need to know how to change quickly to adapt to change itself. As Luca Foresti's says himself, flexibility means "knowing very well what generates value and targeting activities and actions at what generates this value" in a virtuous circle which involves everyone. The ability to work under pressure is the other skill which the entrepreneur considers vital and he uses an insightful phrase to explain this:

You have to be very hard on problems and soft with people.

Not infrequently and especially in times of chaos, such as those we are living through as a result of the pandemic, we are witnessing situations where it is people who are treated with hardness and barely any sensitivity, while problem-solving is being shamelessly put off or completely ignored. This is an attitude which, although common to many business organisations, does not fit into the new normal which lies ahead of us.

However, one definite prerequisite for the future will be anti-fragility, which Luca Foresti clearly distinguishes from another quality that has been talked about at length in recent months, resilience. While the latter term is the ability to withstand adverse winds and pressures without breaking, the first is a deeper quality, including the ability to become stronger when faced with difficulties. While it's easier to be resilient, it's not so obvious how to become anti-fragile. We all must learn this valuable soft skill, including institutions and companies which want to continue to operate actively in the future.

On the subject of the future, Luca Foresti dedicates a large part of his contribution to the younger generations, to whom the future actually belongs, inviting them to take part in a "healthy rebellion in 14 points", to quote the title of an article he has written for the newspaper "Il Sole 24 ore". These are points related to the courage to act, to get out of their comfort zone, to leave the nest and, in doing so, abandon the financial help from the family, which forms the real welfare system in Italy. Look for the unexpected because:

The biggest mistake made by past generations has been to deprive their children of experiencing unexpected events, as if they were kept inside display cases to protect them.

However, in Luca Foresti's view, you only grow by taking risks, looking for adventure, shifting away from paradigms or expectations imposed by others, and, more than anything else, by living every moment of your life with passion.

This implies to companies, which the pandemic has forced, not without trauma, to radically transform themselves, abandoning forever the old working model, based on control and a form of vertical relationship, and adopting instead a more agile one, which allows everyone to work for objectives in a totally independent and transparent manner. Companies must commit themselves to converting what until now has been nothing more than emergency homeworking into real smart working, a way of working and form of production which we could describe as fluid, adaptable to personal life and that leaves no one behind.

What seems clear, listening to the dialogue between Luca Foresti and Myriam De Filippi, is that, faced with so much complexity and uncertainty, the only way to prepare for the future is to work hard every day and do our best. Also because, as Luca ironically remarks: "do we have any alternatives?"

If you would like to delve further into Luca Foresti's thoughts, here is the complete recording of the workshop, which you can watch by simply registering on the PHYD website.

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