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The Learning Nook

Anticipatory thinking: a deeper look at the skills that future higher-ed leaders need to succeed.

By Rebecca Reid

October 22, 2019

Fall scene outside of JSSB; people walking.The Learning and Development team introduced Academic Impressions’ report on the Skills Future Higher-Ed Leaders Need to Succeed in the July edition of the Learning Nook. In the report, authors Amit Mrig, president and CEO of Academic Impressions, and Patrick Sanaghan, president of the Sanaghan Group, acknowledge the complex challenges facing higher education. They also identify five critical skill sets that leaders will need as higher ed moves into the future.

Anticipatory thinking

In this edition, we will look deeper into the first skill set, anticipatory thinking. As defined by Mrig and Sanaghan, anticipatory thinking is “the ability to identify trends and potential opportunities and challenges in the wider external environment, and to understand the strategic implications embedded within them.”

The authors focus on thinking — not doing — noting, “We must take disciplined steps to carve out time to think, read, reflect and connect the dots.”


Make time to be strategic

Use the 5 whys of critical thinking

Efficient Time Management

Horizon thinking

“Leaders must be careful what they take for granted and must pay attention to the ‘harbingers of change’ that appear faintly on the horizon,” Mrig and Sanaghan write in the Skills Future Higher-Ed Leaders Need to Succeed.


Future Timeline Design

How Good is Your Crystal Ball?

Engaging others in an ongoing discussion about the future

Mrig and Sanaghan add that leaders as well as stakeholders need a broad sharing of multiple perspectives to create an integrated view of the future.


24 Higher-Ed Leaders Look to the Future

Workshop Facilitation

Taking field or scouting trips

Identifying aspirational peers or companies that have successfully innovated, especially under difficult circumstances, can be a highly impactful way to see your own challenges from a different perspective, according to Mrig and Sanaghan.


Lessons from the Healthcare Sector

Engaging in sense-making — not just anticipating

The authors add that sense-making “requires leaders to facilitate conversations between individuals and groups who hold different, even contrary, perspectives and vantage points.”


Crucial Conversations

Improving Your Listening Skills

Listening for understanding


Stay tuned for resources highlighting the next four skills outlined in the Skills Future Higher-Ed Leaders Need to Succeed.

Topics: Learning and development, Learning Nook

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