Forward, a spectacular journey! (Foundation Level)

a seamless experience in the world of softskills

Series - mckinsey

Huh? What do you mean by “I need to learn soft skills”?

One night, I was chatting with a friend when they sent me a link to Forward a program to teach soft skills from Mckinsey. Huh? Do people attend programs to acquire soft skills? don’t we acquire and learn them by interacting with others in the professional world? Now I’m a bit curious and skeptical I knew little about soft skills and how important they were. for me at that time, soft skills were the skills that - in my opinion - I need no mentor to teach me, but I learn them through experience and they’re job specific, so the skillset for a job is different than the skillset for another. things that are like:

  • presenting things to people.
  • keeping people engaged.
  • effective communication.
  • persuading others.
  • etc…

since I was motivated enough, I applied.

Super! I got an email telling me that I’ve been accepted!

confirmation email
Yay! I got into the program!

I was even able to access the McKinsey Learning Platform earlier than the start date of the program. after playing around here and there on the platform for some time I was hooked! it’s fantastic, minimal but most importantly was super professional!

we were asked to pick a day for a welcome meeting and to download the Foundation Handbook of the program to understand it more and wow! it really went beyond my expectations.

The Foundation Handbook wasn’t just a simple brochure of some info on the program, rather it was an amazing source to all of my journey! It contains well-made summaries of each lesson of every module with an interactive box at the bottom to jot down some notes and at the end of each module an interactive box to write down your reflection of the module as a whole and what you learned.

  • Foundation: This is the level I was in and I finished! we’ll start learning on some of the basic and important skills to navigate our lives in our fast-paced world.
  • Advanced: The next level where I continue to build on all of the concepts and skills that I learned is the Foundation Level.
  • Network: a chance to expand your network and apply all the learned concepts throughout the program.

What are my goals?

  • Learn what it takes to be a great communicator, a passionate leader and a confident individual.

  • Understand how soft skills are relevant in the real world.

What am I most excited about this program?

  • Learn the things that would make me more valuable and could give me a push and an advantage in the professional world.

Even though I had the ability to start making some progress before the start date. I really wanted to start on the specified date to really understand how I would perform.

The level was divided into 4 modules:

  1. Adaptability & Resilience.
  2. Problem Solving.
  3. Communication for Impact.
  4. Digital Essentials.

Nowadays, we live in a world with a lot of things happening around us that we can’t even begin to process. Being adaptable and resilient help us keep ourselves flexible and valuable in our fast-paced world.

Cut through the world noise, focus on the most relevant to you!

if you need to learn something, you might as well make sure that you will enjoy learning it! for this reason once you approach a new thing your desired outcome should be a learning intention, not a performance measure. Learning Intentions priortize the experience itself, discovering new things and not just the outcome which might be hard and frustrating to get yourself around causing you to quit learning process itself!

Basically, you need to struggle a bit to learn, to feel that you’re learning new things, only then you’ll feel the joy of learning but not to the point where you feel it’s super painful to continue learning.

You’re no magician, everything needs time and effort, no one gets it the first time. Embrace the struggle, hardwork and your journey

just for a second, suppose that you want to learn programming, you absolutely have no idea what programming is and how should you go about learning it.

if you start by saying i want to build a big app like instagram or facebook right off the bat, Congrats! it’s more likely that you’ll quit programming all together! However, if you start by discovering what is programming, how apps work, what are the basics you should know and how to create your study plan, you’ll be able to start making progress more rapidly! only when you get some experience you can start thinking about building your favorite app!

to summarize

  • At the beginning, focus on dicovering things.

  • In the middle, discover more, but challenge yourself to test your learned knowledge.

  • At the end, you’ll have learned the needed skills, more challenges will give more expertise.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember how big is the number of bad conversions that I held. Those conversations were really terrible experinces and to be honest most of them went that way because I was a bad communicator, I always jump to conclusions and try to act as if I know a something completely to strengthen my point of view while not even thinking of the opinions of other people. Pathetic, isn’t it? Well I tried to improve how I interact and present my ideas since I felt people who were open to discuss ideas and thoughts with me, began to avoid having more disscussions. Thankfully, after a bit of hardwork I was able to have more decent and fruitful disscussions. However, I felt something was missing, although I listen and try to understand people’s opinion carefullly and I do my best to communicate my ideas and findings, still for a reason a large portion of my discussions were still bad. I knew I’m missing something!

Ready to know what is that thing?

it’s the first the thing I learned in this section. which is Empathy!

The first component to establish an effective communication

It’s the ability to imagine being in the other person’s shoes to really understand their perspective, experience and feelings. Only when you establish this connection, you can have a fruitful discussion almost on everything.

Having an Over there mindset

  • you try to always focus on the other person and the broader relationship.

  • you try to always be collabrative.

  • you try to be collaborative with the other person.

Great communicators are attentive and curious. They take time to get to know people, ask questions, and listen.

After you establish this connection by really understanding the other person’s needs and concerns. You need to define what really is your aim of this interaction and how are you going to meet your needs and the other person’s needs.

People are always busy in a professional world, you need to make the most out of every single interaction as mush as possible. for this sake, you need to cut to the chase and get to the point.

Why are you having this conversations? it’s best to have to have a shared purpose, so everyone is engaged and actively listening and responding. Purposes of an interaction commonly fall into one of five categories.

  • Understanding

    Ensuring that everyone involved understands and is aligned with the work.

  • Brainstorming

    Creating a picture of the situation and facilitating problem solving.

  • Rapport Building

    Actively listening, learning about concerns and motivations and building a relationship.

  • Reassurance

    Building confidence in the project and the insights being developed.

  • Decision Making

    Providing the insight and space for everyone to make an informed decision on something.

To communicate professionally and efficiently, you need to define your purpose as specific as possible.

Heads, Hearts, and Hands.

To define your purpose, it’s very useful to ask yourself these three questions.

  1. What do you want your audience to understand?

  2. How do you want your audience to feel?

  3. What do you want your audience to do?

If defining purpose is like an entrance to a conversation, then defining Insight is your exit out of it!

Think of it simply as the desired things or the message that the other person should leave the conversation with.

such as:

  • Important Info on something that they need to consider.

  • A decision they must make.

  • etc..

for the other person to really understand your message. you don’t just present it right away! It’s advisible to provide your message in a structured and coherent manner. One of the most useful ways to do that is to use the pyramid method

Pyramid Method

One of the most useful methods to structure your arguments.

it consists of:

  • Governing Thought

    One sentence statement of your message: a problem, a solution, etc..

  • Key Line Statements

    The why and how of that message.

  • Supporting Evidence

    To each one of Key Line Statement

Although the Pyramid is presented from top down, It’s usually built bottom up.

Going through your pyramid upside down answers Why? and ‘How?’ questions. However, going groud up helps answer the ‘So what?’ question.

This method ensures that you’re creating a synthesis which is an answer “so what?” of all of your facts, and not a normal and not usually useful summary of your facts!

In the previous 3 sections we’ve been going through the EPIC framework for effective communication.

so far we’ve covered:

  • E: Empathy

  • P: Purpose

  • I: Insight

C which stands for conversation wasn’t covered in the foundations as it’ll be covered in the Advanced Level.

Before diving in, let’s think a little bit about the different kind of problems we encounter in our lives. Some problems are urgent thus requiring our immediate attention, others aren’t as urgent and have a window of time, typically a couple of days or weeks to think and construct a solution. Some problems need a specific and final answer, whether the answer was purely quantitative or qualitative in nature, others require developing new creative ideas and innovations.

Before contining, I’d like to make a claim.

About 95% of people around the world solve problems based on hunch and instinct!

While solving problems this way isn’t entirely a bad thing, following a systematic approach to problem solving would yield much more useful answers at the end because:

  • You would be able to identifiy all the possible elements of a problem, thus gaining:

    • complete understanding of the problem.

    • the ability to focus on its important parts.

    • a sense of its potential solutions and uncertainties.

  • You would be able to save more time and effort as going through a step-by-step approach efficiently guides you throught your problem solving journey.

  • Hypothesis-led

    A flexible, scalable, broadly applicable seven-step approach.

  • Domain IP-led

    An accelerated version of the hypothesis-led approach, requiring expertise relevant to the problem.

  • Advanced Analytics

    Approaches to arrive at non-obvious insights from big data.

  • Design Thinking

    A people-centric approach with an emphasis on prototyping and user feedback.

  • Engineering

    An experiment-based approach that uses rapid prototyping to de-risk

In the course we’ve only taken a simple introduction on the Hypothesis-led Approach and we’ll dive deeply into it in the advanced phase!

forward provides a path to easy sucess
I feel really motivated and happy!

No matter what I say, truly the amount and quality of the information and guidance provided in the Forward program is really worth its weight in gold!

At the end, I’d like to thank you for reading this blog post I really appreciate it and you’re the best!

Thanks again! and bye!