OOP2014 – Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in Conference, Temenos | 3 Comments

[amazon asin=”B00CO8CRDY” template=”simpleimage”] Reading Tobias Mayer’s “The People’s Scrum” I stumbled upon an article he’s written in 2009: Heartfelt Emotionalism is the New Hardcore (available now as excerpt from the book). I fully agree with what he says about “touchy-feely” being a label that’s used when we don’t have the courage to open up at work.

The article resonated especially as I’m leading the “Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills” track at next year’s OOP conference in Munich. The Call for Papers was extended and is open till Monday, July 8!

So why are soft skills important?

Economic Reasons for Sharing Private Information at Work

Saving Time

Inauthentic communication (aka Corporate Politics) is the Number One contribution to wasting time. Misattribution of perceived emotions leads to behaviour that limits results. If you know I have a teenage daughter I occasionally fight with, chances are much lower that you think it’s your fault when you observe me being angry. Likelihood of open communication increases.

Richer Culture Nurtures More Value

Culture, the shared identity of our team or our organisation, is made from stories. How we work and who we are is shaped by the stories we tell and listen to. The challenges and problems we observe and the options for solutions we are able to discover increase with every topic that’s covered in our stories. Our ability for understanding, and for collaboration, greatly increases the more we share with each other, about ourselves.

Customer Delight is based on Connections

Our business will be sustainably successful if we manage to continually delight our customers and users. We can only be delighted if we feel seen, recognised as human beings, understood in our needs. The richer and deeper the information we share in our team, the more opportunities our product will offer to connect with the users. Our culture, our diversity, will show in the product. The more options we create to make a difference to the users, the more likely we will create a connection. The value of the human connection will make them pay a premium for our products, and services.

Mitigate Risks

The Johari window helps us understand our relationship with ourselves and others by discerning what we and others know about us into four “rooms”:

  • Arena: known to others and ourselves
  • Facade: known to ourselves, not to others
  • Blind spot, known to others, not to ourselves
  • Unknown: not known to self and others

The window shows you how sharing private information lets the Facade shrink. It encourages others to share something they know about you that you haven’t been aware of—making your Blind Spot smaller as well.

As a result, the unknown “room” gets smaller too – which limits the risk of finding something out about ourselves (for instance in moments of stress) that nobody had been aware of…

How To Start Sharing

To share private information at work, we need a safe container. We don’t like leaving our comfort zone without a safety net…

Two options I’ve tried and made good experience with are


When you begin a meeting, or your day, take a few minutes to check in. You can use the Core Protocols format as a starting point, and you can experiment with other formats too (Pride/Fear/Trust is something that works fine). You don’t need to ask your peers to share private information, you can just do it and they’ll follow your example. Take the lead. At first, it takes courage. Then it starts to be fun 🙂


Temenos is a storytelling container you can use in various formats. The speed versions of Personal Vision and Influence Maps are a good starting point.

Your Turn

What experiences have you made? What reasons do you see (and which reasons for not doing what I suggest)?.


  1. mhwilleke
    July 4, 2013

    Thanks for challenging us Olaf – I really appreciate how you provide two specific strategies in helping us make authentic connections.

  2. Olaf Lewitz Aufrichtige Empfindsamkeit ist der neue Hardcore » Olaf Lewitz
    January 31, 2014

    […]  Soft Skills are the new Hard Skills ist der Titel meines Tracks bei der nächsten OOP in München. Gestern habe ich Tobias Mayers Artikel  Heartfelt Emotionalism is the New Hardcore erwähnt (jetzt hier als Auszug aus dem Buch). Er schreibt sehr klar, was ich mit dem Titel meines Tracks sagen wollte. Ich habe seinen Artikel ins Deutsche übertragen. Dank an Dymaxicon für die Genehmigung zur Veröffentlichung! […]

  3. Olaf Lewitz Soft Skills are the new Hard Skills at OOP 2015 » Olaf Lewitz
    June 25, 2014

    […] I hosted the “Soft Skills are new Hard Skills” track at OOP, a main German software conference. It was rated the best track of the […]


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