Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner

The story of Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, the winners of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries underpinning the mRNA vaccines against Covid-19, holds lessons for others pursuing radical ideas. In their article in Harvard Business Review, Paola Bellis, Assistant Professor in Organizational Behavior and Leadership and Innovation, and Roberto Verganti, Professor in Leadership and Innovation, draw on their interview with Karikó and those of others with Weissman and her, to extrapolate lessons on why pairs can be more effective in pursuing seemingly wild ideas and how to find someone to take the journey with you.


Imagine you have an unorthodox idea — one that challenges the dominant assumptions in your organization and industry. How do you develop it? Moving forward alone is hard. On the other hand, you are unlikely to attract or be provided with a large team to pursue an idea that most see as crazy.

The research by Paola Bellis and Roberto Verganti suggests that such radical thinkers thrive in a unique organizational setting by finding one other individual to work with — by operating in pairs.

The article “Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner.” recently published in Harvard Business Review, explores why and how a couple can help develop unorthodox ideas.

In addition to the interpretation of the story of Katalin Karikò and Drew Weissman’s – based on an interview and other sources – the study is based on more than 30 interviews with couples around the world and on the analysis of more than 60 famous cases, such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for the development of the personal computer, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, to name a few.

Among the success factors of innovative couples emerge relational and behavioral aspects, such as the fact that daring to share a crazy idea is easier in the intimate space of working as a couple. Couples are also more resistant than teams to the difficult moments typical of radical innovation.

To read the complete article:
Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner” – Harvard Business Review



Data culture and leadership culture: two sides of the same coin

Data experts are becoming key connectors in relationships within organisations. Data culture therefore brings with it the need to rethink organisational and leadership models


Filomena Canterino, Assistant Professor of People Management and Organization at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano 

For several years now, data analytics experts, the so-called data scientists and data analysts, have been among the most sought-after figures by companies across all sectors, from manufacturing and education to publishing. Their job is to gather, structure, analyse, interpret and summarise data, transforming it into information that is useful for the other players and decision-makers in an organisation.

Very often, the people in these roles are key connectors within the organisation, because they interact with individuals at various positions and levels, thus becoming reference points that transcend and, in some cases, even overturn traditional hierarchies. Data experts can in fact deliver great added value to almost all corporate areas, from maintenance and strategy to resources management and marketing. And in doing so, they interact with a host of different corporate players. Let us consider the typical example of the datafication of a production plant, in which a system of sensors is able to continuously gather real-time production performance data (for example, number of items manufactured, number of rejects, duration of downtime, number of breakdowns). By analysing and processing the data, and the information they manage to extrapolate from it, a data scientist or data expert can communicate effectively with operators, team leaders and top managers alike. They are able to give a voice to the machines, but also to the people who, armed with a more complete and detailed idea of the performance and potential areas for improvement, can put forward new solutions and ideas.

Just as often, unfortunately, people occupying these roles are superficially labelled as “nerds” and “geeks”, or other terms that allude to a certain familiarity with and interest in analytical and technical matters, and less interest or self-confidence in relationship, interpersonal and leadership aspects. Besides being narrow-minded – just think how many “nerds” are CEOs and leaders of big successful companies – this view is extremely limiting.

First of all, because it refers to an outdated view of the concept of leadership, i.e. innate, heroic leadership, based on “natural” charisma. Leadership experts and companies at the forefront with regard to these issues know all too well that people are not necessarily born leaders, but can become them – some with more effort than others, of course – simply because leadership is characterised by behaviours, or rather by actions that we can follow, practise and improve, and not by characteristics. So, surely also an individual with outstanding technical and analytical talent can identify and deploy the behaviours needed to interact with others and efficiently lead their team.
What is more, in the field of academic research, in which people have been aware for several decades of the fact that behaviour is more relevant than characteristics, the most recent studies have shown that leadership is actually a complex, dynamic and shared process in most cases, which stems from interaction between the various players of a system. If we look at it in this way, we could almost say that it could be more easily understood by individuals in charge of intercepting and interpreting data flows than by others.

Secondly, this type of view makes managing the development of these figures within organisations ineffective, precisely because it shines the spotlight on the wrong thing, i.e on the personal characteristics of those occupying a specific role, rather than on the organisation’s leadership model.

So what can be done to put these roles in a position to reach their full potential and develop their content- and process-based leadership qualities?

By all means, we can promote a cultural model that views leadership as something that is shared and widespread, based on actions and behaviour and on the concept of accountability – whereby each and every individual or small team is responsible for a small part of the result. All this can be achieved through coherent training and development plans across the entire organisation, as well as through digital technologies, which facilitate data acquisition and sharing to inform decisions and shorten hierarchical chains as a result. Data, accountability and shared leadership: a virtuous circle in which data experts can be true protagonists.


Exploring Innovation and Design as Leadership: the IDeaLs project

The world of Innovation Management is being disrupted, as companies all over the world explore new ways to develop new products and services. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence and other digital technologies, the role of people in innovation processes is increasingly uncertain.

IDeaLs was born to explore how companies can achieve Innovation through collective Design activities and shared forms of Leadership.

Founded by the Politecnico di Milano and the Centre for Creative Leadership, IDeaLs is a research platform that unites Academics and Managers to discover new ways of engaging people in activities of collaborative design to Make Innovation Happen.

Over the past two years, IDeaLs has collaborated with nine international organisations operating in diverse sectors, ranging from utilities to logistic providers, healthcare organisations, and sportswear.
For each organisation joining the platform, a core team of 2-3 managers would bring an innovation challenge to the research team. Over a time period of 4-6 months, each challenge was analysed, and multiple workshops performed with the partner organisation. At the end of the time frame, the results of the research, and the impact in the organization, were shared among all partners in a collective final event.

In line with the requests made by managers, IDeaLs aims to develop new tools and methodologies to support organisations during their transformation processes. Over the past years, IDeaLs has developed a “Story-telling” experience: upon briefing by managers, through a series of workshops, participants designed their own transformation story, a roadmap for both individual and collective change. This experience had a positive effect on all partner organisations: firstly, every participant committed to three concrete actions to perform, resulting in an average of 120 small, autonomous steps towards the destination outlined by the managers; and secondly, the workshops increased the levels of engagement towards innovation, which was constantly monitored by the research team.

Ultimately, IDeaLs represents a community of “innovation leaders”, who discuss relevant topics on leadership and innovation, besides learning about the case-studies of the other companies. Three yearly events are organised in which members discuss their insights, share success stories, and examine their organisations’ approaches to innovation.

As a founder of the platform, the School of Management is contributing both to consulting the companies and to the research.

First of all, the activities are related to the design of new methods and tools to foster collaboration among individuals in an innovation setting. Second, the platform aims to give a methodological contribution, developing a measurement instrument which makes it possible to assess the strategic readiness of an organisation to pursue an innovative direction.

From a research perspective, the team is involved in the design of research directions for each year and is currently developing three separate Ph.D. programs related to the platform. The School of Management is further responsible for the dissemination of the knowledge acquired, through a yearly booklet which describes the partners’ projects, as well as presenting the theorical insights in international conferences and publishing the same in academic journals.

When it comes to us as individuals, we are often overwhelmed by innovations and know very well that the problem goes far beyond the process we apply to make them happen. The world of innovation was so focused on finding the perfect innovation process, but it forgot the people who run it.[1] IDeaLs aims to bring the person back to the centre, as a driver of organisational innovation.

The Research Team –

Scientific Directors: prof. Roberto Verganti; Prof. Tommaso Buganza; Joseph Press, Ph.D.
Research Team: Paola Bellis; Silvia Magnanini; Daniel Trabucchi, Ph.D.; Federico P. Zasa


[1] Source: IDeaLs Booklet 2019

Disruption? No, thanks. Innovation and Leadership in the New Normal

Whatever the post-Covid future, the new normal will require a fundamental change in the leadership of companies. What kind of mentality should leaders have to do business and innovation in a world that will be completely different? In a period in which the temptation will be to be increasingly competitive due to the scarce resources available, learning to share may be the only strategy that can guarantee survival.


Roberto Verganti, Professor of Leadership and Innovation
School of Management Politecnico di Milano, Stockholm School of Economics, Harvard Business School


Many executives wonder about a fundamental question: how to get ready for the “new normal”? How markets will look like when the main wave(s) of the Covid-19 pandemic will recede? How to redesign products, services and operations to address potential structural shifts?

The start line to rethink how we operate is getting close. Those who get ready now, will start with the right foot. Those who wait, will look like dinosaurs from an old era (though that era was just a few months earlier).

Magazines, futurists, consultants, organizations. Everyone is trying to picture how the scenario will look like as people open up their doors to a new normal life. And everyone agrees on two things: first, the world will look different than before. Second, this transformation will not be temporary. Even when Covid-19 will be fully defeated (and hopefully it will be), our attitude towards socialization, our openness towards the world, our need for health (and anxiety for new infections), will be radically different, for the bad, but also for the good.

Yet, as we move closer and try to get into the details of how life will look like, how markets and operations will work, the real challenge emerges: the phenomenon we are facing is so unprecedented, disproportioned, and swift that capturing the essence of what will happen is implausible. A simple figure to explain the rapidity and magnitude of the discontinuity: in March 2020 more than 7 million Americans have filed for jobless claims per week. This is about tenfold compared to what happened during the financial crisis in 2008. So, regardless to the intelligence and effort we invest to predict what will happen, we need to admit that the answer to the question “how the world will look like?” is: no one really knows. This is a bit of a dismay for the classic way we picture leaders (and experts), who are supposedly those who always know. Yet, in this context, “pretending to know” is the most dramatic mistake we could do.

Amy Edmondson illustrates in her book The Fearless Organization that when a person admits that she does not know, then she opens the doors to learning. To understand how to do business in the new normal the mindset we need therefore is not to guess how it will be, but to get prepared to learn.

How? Being the context completely new, we cannot rely on past experience. We will need to learn “on the fly” through continuous experiments and adaptation. There are two ways to experiment and learn: by competing (learning by trying) or by collaborating (learning by sharing).

Learn by Trying. This the classic way of learning. The purpose here is to learn by yourself in order to beat your competitors. In this approach, organizations compete by conducting different experiments. Each organization tries its own ideas, fail, learn, adjusts the direction, and iterate. As companies aim to disrupt their competitors, they do not share their findings and insights with other organizations, nor the data that fuel the learning. This implies that every time an organization has an idea, it needs to explore it by only relying on its own resources.

Learn by Sharing. In this approach organizations conduct again different experiments. They generate their own ideas and iterate. However, they share the data and findings of their experiments. Why? Because this way they can leverage the trials of other players. If an idea has already been tested, and fails, others can avoid this unpromising path and focus on other options. And if the idea succeeds, others can build on top of it, instead of having everyone starting from scratch. Of course, this path reduces distances among competitors. Disruptions with one big winner and many losers are less likely to happen. But the advantage, however, is that that this approach requires less resources (individual and collective) and less time to get to good solutions. This increase in overall productivity and speed facilitates the growth of demand for solutions, which fuels returns to each player. In other words, this mechanism of learning replicates the mechanisms of the prisoner’s dilemma: cooperation between players leads to higher yields than what players would earn if they would maximize their own individual returns.

Learn by Trying is the kind of learning that has been prized in the past decade by many innovation thinkers and epitomized by the motto “fail often to succeed sooner”. It worked as long as the environment changed rapidly but in a linear fashion, so that learning from one experiment could be applied to the next one without the context being changed dramatically meanwhile. The change we are facing now with Covid-19 is however discontinuous and unprecedented. If in this context everyone conducts experiment by itself, each player has not sufficient time to explore this uncharted space of solution and then iterate before the context evolves again.

To innovate in the new normal we need to learn by sharing. This strategy is the only one that can guarantee sufficient scope, speed and productivity of the experiments. In fact, data sharing enables a larger community of players to participate to the experiments, from a larger variety of settings. And the sharing of findings enables to avoid unproductive trials.

Learning by sharing is already practiced in scientific research connected to Covid-19. Foer example, PostEra, a start-up based in Santa Clara, CA, and London, UK, is coordinating a massive collaborative project, Covid Moonshot to rapidly develop effective and easy-to-make anti-Covid drugs. The focus of the project is to design inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (the enzyme that enables the virus to replicate). The project leverages data shared by experiments conducted in a synchrotron radiation facility, Diamond Light Source, that has identified 80 fragments of molecules that might attach to the protease. A community of scientists and manufacturers use those data to design compound inhibitors, which are submitted through the PostEra website. The start-up then runs machine learning algorithms in the background to check for duplications and prioritize candidates for testing. More than 3’600 molecules designs have been submitted with only 32 duplications in the designs.

Shared learning is getting its way also in ordinary business not connected to Covid-19. Microsoft has recently launched an Open Data Campaign. The Open Data movement promotes the sharing of data, similarly to what Open Source does for sharing of software code. Microsoft will develop 20 new collaborations built around shared data by 2022, including, for example, publishing a Microsoft’s dataset around broadband usage in the US.

Note that shared learning does not imply that different players collaborate on the same idea or solution, like in consortia. On the contrary, organizations explore different ideas and experiments. This enables to explore the entire space of solutions. What is shared, instead, are the data that feed the experiments, and/or the insights and findings they generate.

Learning by sharing is built on a will to cooperate. Which is not easy to achieve. Especially in a period of scarce resources. The temptation is to look inward, and behave even more competitively, to secure the few things left, instead of focusing, collaboratively, on building more. What kind of culture and mindset will innovation leaders need to promote learning by sharing in their own organizations?

Whatever the future will look like, the new normal will require a fundamental change in the way we create innovation and lead our organizations. Whereas the innovation mantra of the pre-Covid era was to “disrupt competitors”, this is not really the moment to disrupt. This is rather the moment to collectively re-build a new economy and a new world. The real heroes, in business and society, will not be the disruptors, but those catalysts who will foster a cooperative mindset. Which, in innovation, it means to share data and learnings from the experiments everyone conducts. Organizations will need to try different competing ideas, but they will also benefit from sharing insights, in order to avoid unpromising avenues, improve collective productivity, and rapidly build a new society. Covid-19 is the moment of truth for leaders: where they can prove their authentic orientation to lead organizations around purpose and meaning.

A Smiling Mind for future leaders


It all started with some of us being curious to know more about who everybody is are beyond busy classes and aperitivo time, when you chit-chat with people, randomly passing from one to the other sometimes with small talk, at other times with meaningful conversations that nonetheless stay private. It all started with us needing some real space and some time to bring a small audience together, to be able to speak freely and have some space to share. Back then, the MBA program was starting to be very condensed and most of the time it required so much attention and work in and out of the class that sticking together on a personal basis was a need felt by many. Bringing thoughts and doubts, freely speaking about who we are, why we are doing the Master, what brought some of us to move from faraway continents to Italy and where we are heading to are all topics MBA students would want to put on the table to start an exchange with the people they are seated next to the entire day.

The Smiling Mind Talks came to life out of this malaise as an informal project created by my classmate Victor, an immunologist with a research background all around Europe. At the beginning of the year, right after the first intense weeks of lectures, he proposed that we should have the chance to express ourselves in a direct and open way through our personal stories. Once a week, on a voluntary basis, two of our classmates could make a small chalk-talk or presentation following a rather free format, where they would tell us about themselves, their passions or projects. At the beginning, the number of participants was narrowed down to a few, but as time passed, and people asked to be listed for their talk, the buzz spread amongst us and the audience grew from week to week, until Smiling Mind bloomed into a long-awaited, rather crowded event of the week, anticipated by much joy, beers and food for all.

Thanks to Smiling Mind, I learnt about my Turkish friend Demet and the fears and thrills of her entrepreneurial project. Demet moved from New York to start working on a long-desired plan revolving around women’s empowerment in disenfranchised rural communities, that will enable an ancient form of handcraftsmanship – jewellery filigree – to become known to the broader public. I also had the chance to get closer to Felipe, a business analyst who embarked on the MBA adventure from Chile with his inseparable wife Carolina, with whom he has literally climbed mountains all around the world. Felipe comes from a sporty family and is also a runner, and some years ago he was involved in a major accident. Hearing his story of recovery and resilience created a beautiful energy amongst all of us. The day I did my talk, I myself felt very nervous: I was going to share something private about my life, past experience and future expectations; but the reassuring gaze in my classmates’ eyes made me feel at ease as I concluded towards a feedback session where comments and encouragements made me understand how a moment of spontaneous deep connection can make us improve as human beings and feel more engaged.

In the past weeks we have learned from the innovation course that in order to make a radical change, you need a shift in the meaning of things. In an age where words like mindfulness are often overused and misinterpreted, an activity like the Smiling Mind talks really have an impact on the way we learn, from top-down to team-based interactions that help us create a sense of community stemming from experience-based practices, where we can learn from each other how to become future leaders.

About the author
Marianna Trimarchi
I am a candidate of the International Full Time MBA at MIP. I have a background in academia as a PhD in Communication and Strategic Analysis and a career as content producer in the Media Industry.I have worked for the Italian Television as author and assistant producer for cultural programs as well as for other media outlets as journalist. I am passionate about understanding complex phenomena particularly related to internationalization and global development from a multidisciplinary perspective.




The leader put to the test with soft skills

In the life of a company, a merger represents one of the most delicate phases. It’s the moment in which two entities with different cultures, histories and leadership styles join forces. It’s a process that must be carefully planned and managed, with the aim of creating a new, shared corporate culture. Only in this way can an integration be truly considered successful. Sergio Gonella, Culture and People Development & Recruiting Director at Wind Tre, a company created at the end of 2016 from the biggest European merger in Telecommunications to date, that between Wind Telecommunication and H3G, followed this process first-hand and talked about it with the students of the Executive MBA programme of Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management as part of the series “A point of view on Leadership”: «We worked two years to best carry out this merger and, from the very beginning, it was clear that the biggest challenges we would face wouldn’t only be at a technological or business level. It was fundamental to concentrate on people. So we decided to involve them, through a wide range of initiatives in which soft skills played a preponderant role».

The three pillars of leadership

These initiatives included «listening activities like engagement surveys, involvement activities through communities, initiatives dedicated to welfare, to development, to learning and to performance management». A strategy that immediately earned Wind Tre the Top Employer certification and that took inspiration from a new leadership model, also in this case defined by the people chosen to lead the new company. «Thanks to interviews and focus groups that involved managers», explains Gonella, «we identified the three pillars that make up the leadership model of Wind Tre: self, people and business».
As far as the context regarding self, «the leader must demonstrate qualities of stability, entrepreneurship and exemplarity». Internal characteristics which, however, must then be translated to the outside, that is brought to the team. «Our leaders must motivate their employees and give them confidence, allow them to express themselves freely and in a constructive manner and stimulate the growth of a network of relations both within and outside the company», continues Gonella. All elements where the mastery of soft skills is central.
The constructive approach of leadership also reflects on the business: «On this front, our priorities are value creation, a strong customer orientation and an aptitude for exploration and continuous innovation».

Observe, learn, innovate

The centrality attributed to soft skills is consistent with transformations underway globally, which will profoundly change the hierarchy of required job skills. Gonella himself explains this, citing the Future of Jobs Report prepared by the World Economic Forum in 2018: «If we compare the most requested skills in 2018 with those that will be most needed in 2022, we can see not only the latter ones will be all soft skills, but that the ability to learn, creativity, and originality will take on a preponderant role». This is because we forecast that in 2022 the pace of innovation and changes in scenarios will be even more rapid than they are now. «The ability to learn, but also that of knowing how to learn, putting into practice set strategies, will become even more important than omnipresent problem-solving. The leader of the future must be able to analyse critical issues while also thinking of innovative solutions. And, to do so, he will need to draw on all his learning skills», concludes Gonella.

A Point of view on Leadership

Clear objectives and acute emotional intelligence. These, according to Lorenzo Wittum, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca Italia, are the two pillars on which managers must build their success. A certainty that comes from years of personal experience, which Wittum shared with students in the Executive MBA programme of MIP Politecnico di Milano. «Pressure without direction only generates agitation – explained Wittum –. Companies are focused on results, and to obtain them it’s fundamental to have a clear and precise strategy, especially if you find yourself managing a team of hundreds of people. The working group must know what the final objective is. For this it’s important that the leader is able to communicate this correctly and effectively».

In a context like this, soft skills become more decisive than hard ones, which however also shouldn’t be undervalued: «I also entered the work world thanks to an MBA in Business Administration and Management, without which I probably wouldn’t be here today. I started my career using hard skills I gained during years of study, and in the meantime I was able to develop empathic and communicative skills, which for a leader are fundamental», said Wittum.

Indeed, it would be difficult to describe a person who isn’t able to involve and motivate his or her colleagues as a good leader. «It’s necessary to know how to speak clearly: define expectations, the level of difficulty, opportunities and risks. Few things are as engaging as the opportunity to work on one’s personal growth and that of colleagues».

In addition, soft skills, unlike hard ones that often involve specific fields, can be used across all work areas.  «Business, no matter what sector, is always based on the same principles. And making the difference are always the same elements: the involvement of people, a clear strategic direction and motivation. Factors that are even more important if you think that, within an organization, there are many projects that involve high-level professionals with different corporate roles: when, as in this case, you lead a “superteam” of experts who respond to other corporate hierarchies, more than leadership, we talks about lateral influence», explained Wittum.

Indeed, it’s the leader’s job to create the right conditions to stimulate cooperation: «In this, what helps immensely is a quality I developed during my master’s programme, that of humility, which must be understood as the ability to be transparent, to know how to recognize when someone else’s idea is better than yours. It’s this attitude that generates involvement».

The role of the leader, obviously, changes significantly as a function of the dimensions of the team. «When I was leading smaller teams, I loved working in the field and giving an example. Put at the head of a larger group, I realized that this approach generated a counterproductive complexity. I realized that to involve and motivate not a team but an entire company I had to first be recognized as a leader, beyond the position I hold, by the key individuals in the different corporate functions».

The AstraZeneca Italia CEO stressed the importance of a master’s degree in an individual’s training path: «Provided, however, that you have patience and consider your career in a constructive way. It’s not a series of 100 metre sprints, but it’s much more like a marathon. It’s important to know what you want to do when you grow up, but this doesn’t mean that you should expect to find your desired job immediately. It’s a growth path that requires, also in this case, a clear objective and great resilience».

The manager of today (and tomorrow)

The job market of the near future will feature managers open to change and able to evolve. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or rather the use of technology in numerous activities previously carried out exclusively by man, threatens some professions, promises to create new ones, and requires an effort to adapt from everyone, in particular from those with decision-making roles.

That of manager is one of the professions that has the least to fear from changes underway, indeed managers will take on an increasingly key role. But precisely for this reason managers have a greater need than others to update their expertise to be prepared for the continuous evolution of job scenarios. The evolution that they are called upon to interpret and manage.

The Future of Jobs Report 2018, published by World Economic Forum, indicates the professions tied to reasoning and decision-making, and those related to coordination, development, management and consulting, as the two categories in which the relationship between hours worked by humans and machines will remain decisively tilted towards the former. But the same report stresses that by 2022, at least 54% of managers will be required to undergo a major re-skilling or upskilling. Many of the companies interviewed declared their intention to concentrate their efforts to upgrade expertise on employees with high value-added positions.

The manager of the future, called on to navigate in a complex society that changes continuously and at a very rapid pace, on one hand needs always up-to-date hard skills, especially in the technological field, and on the other hand soft skills like analytic thinking, resilience, creativity, emotional intelligence, flexibility.

The matter was also discussed in the “Human skills and drivers for change” roundtable, held on 2 February at MIP Politecnico di Milano during the first EMBA Day 2019 (the event is part of the “Practising Leadership cycle”, whose next appointment is scheduled for 6 March on the theme of “Empower your career”). On that occasion, Pino Mercuri, Human Resources Director at Microsoft Italia, focused on the issue of obsolescence of IT skills. “The average engineering or technological skill has a shelf life between 24 and 48 months –said Mercuri –. However, we don’t have complete clarity about the skills that will be necessary in the near future.  We talk about Machine Learning, of AI, of IoT, but they’re often more passwords than real concepts”.

Faced with this increased instability on required skills, the ability to learn and the motivation to do so over one’s working life become increasingly important. “At Microsoft we tried to make everyone understand that learning isn’t only necessary but is also an element of evaluation – added Mercuri –. In our performance management system, we ask you to declare what you intend to do to grow and learn, and the answer to that question is verified during the next evaluation step”.

The head hunter Jacopo Pasetti, also present at the roundtable, focused on two concepts, awareness and passion: “Awareness should be considered as an understanding of our career path and what we truly like to do. It’s necessary so that the continuous updating required due to the rapid evolution of skills isn’t considered to be a weight. So you must choose your career path not on the basis of what’s in fashion at the moment but by following your passions, in addition to a clear strategy”. 

However, the importance of soft skills shouldn’t lead to neglecting hard skills. “We’re in a historical moment in which they’re trying to convince us that skills and culture aren’t so important after all – stressed Fulvia Fiaschetti, Global Talent Acquisition Associate Director of Amplifon –. I believe instead that the business world strongly opposes this type of thinking”. Technical expertise, the manager argues, is needed especially at the entrance in a company, while soft skills are developed later and serve to make further progress. Communication, empathy, forward thinking are skills that can’t be learned from books.

The need to learn quickly also leads to the spread of a culture of error, understood as an invitation to continuously dare and experiment, also using failure as a means for learning.  “The error isn’t only possible but is also necessary to acquire an increasing number of skills – pointed out Pino Mercuri –. If you’re making mistakes, it’s probably because you’re truly trying to innovate”.