A More Integrated Approach to Skill Development

One area in which we must continue to refine our approach relates to the false divides that have historically been created in the overall training and assessment of non-technical skills.

The first of these divides, which was introduced early in the book, is that the division between non-technical and technical skills is false and potentially misleading. Take, for example, the process of decision-making in a critical situation. An optimal decision cannot be made by someone who is simply well versed in decision-making theory and technique. Expert domain knowledge and technical skills are also critical to an effective decision outcome. Indeed, as we saw in the decision-making chapter, decision-making skills cannot be trained and assessed in an environment abstracted from real-world workplace situations.

The second false divide relates to the domains of non-technical skills themselves. Again, if we take the example of decision-making by a team in a crisis situation, the outcome cannot possibly be optimal without both situation awareness and communication. The domains of non-technical skills described in this book have been created to conveniently label aspects of expert performance. When aspects of performance are named in such a way, they can be studied discretely and trained in a targeted fashion. However, this approach is highly reductionist, and while it is convenient, non-technical skills training programs must attempt to integrate and bridge this divide.

Our future development of non-technical skills training programs must focus more keenly on the ways in which they can be successfully integrated with aspects of technical training and on-going professional development.

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