Nesta catalog of 9 core skills

1 minute read

There’s a quite extensive and structured competency framework by Nesta – an innovation no-profit from the UK. The scope is quite wide, but interestingly there’s an inner set of skills, they call “core skills”:

  1. Agile — Responding to changing environments with flexibility.
  2. Action-oriented — Biased towards action and learning by doing.
  3. Curious — The desire to explore multiple possibilities.
  4. Reflective — Habit of critically reflecting on process and results.
  5. Courageous — Willingness to take risks.
  6. Outcomes-focused — Strong commitment to real world effects.
  7. Imaginative — Exploring and envisioning new possible futures.
  8. Resilient — The perseverance to deal with resistance.
  9. Empathetic — Understanding others experiences and frames of reference.

This doesn’t exactly map to soft skills, which might be one reason why they haven’t used that term, as things like “action-oriented” is more of a preference than a generalizable trait: some people can have excellent soft skills, but might not be biased towards action and learning by doing.

Domain-specific Soft Skills

By reading their document, it becomes evident that their selection is specific to the kind of goal they have in mind. This means they weren’t trying to come up with a list of independent, or even universal, soft skills, but a selection they felt relevant: fostering a culture of experimental problem solving in governments. Which explains quite clearly the “Action-oriented” item in the list.

It also seems more actionable than SkillsMatch catalog of 36 soft skills, again probably due to their particular focus.

I appreciate more specialized approaches. Trying to create a sort of independent framework for soft skills can be challenging, but if there’s a goal, it gets easier.

Here are more existing approaches that are more specifically related to a goal or a specific domain:

Thanks to Jakob Jochmann, Katja Martinewski, Jason Mesut, Tomomi Sasaki, and all the people that replied my call for sources.