Recognize and market your transferrable skills

Many of the advanced doctoral students I speak with share one characteristics: they fail to recognize that they have transferrable skills and knowledge. And, as they finally land an interview with a potential employer, they’re selling themselves short. But getting an advanced degree, or indeed, solving any complex problem, brings you more than specialized knowledge and skills. You should recognize and market these transferrable skills.

The book is coming

Just a quick note to let you know that the book I’ve been working on, Strategic Thinking in Problem Solving, is now officially under contract with Oxford University Press.

More soon.

Choose the right level of accuracy

“The more cheese, the more holes; but the more holes, the less cheese. Therefore the more cheese, the less cheese.” So goes the paradoxe du fromage à trous. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a little more accuracy on what we mean.

So accuracy—the conformity to truth or to a standard or model (per Merriam-Webster)—is desirable. But past a certain amount, striving for more accuracy isn’t necessarily beneficial.

Borrow ideas from other disciplines

“Problem solving in medicine is not the same as in military” or so the thinking goes. Of course, there are obvious differences and these differences call for specialized training. But there are also common denominators, and it’s to your benefit to recognize when you can borrow ideas from other disciplines.

Be a generalist / strategic thinker as well as a specialist

Effective problem solvers have both deep and broad knowledge. Depth of knowledge usually isn’t the problem, because it is the central component of many formal training programs. However, most of us don’t receive much training on developing the broad, transferable or generalist skills that make us good strategic thinkers. So you need to take the matter in your own hands.

This is an excerpt of my post on MIT Sloan Executive Education’s innovation@work Blog. I’ve also included below an expanded list of resources.

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