1.2 Introduction to Skills Development

This small book provides an introduction to Skills Development.

Employability Skills

Employability Skills

Definition of employability skills

There are different interpretations about employability. These depend on whether someone secures a job in specific period after graduation or if he is capable to maintain it and prosper in it. Some researchers argue that “If employability is measured in the simplistic terms of whether or not a graduate has managed to secure a job within six months of graduating, it only provides a very vague and imprecise indication of what the student has gained” (Pool & Sewell, 2007). This does not precisely indicate whether the skills or knowledge applied in the job derives from academic discipline, whether it has been obtained through other channels or if it is a combination of both. It also becomes intriguing to know to what extent a particular academic institution has provided the knowledge/skills applied in the job market.

According to Hillage and Pollard (1998) cited by Pool & Sewel (2007, p.278), “employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work. More comprehensively employability is the capability to move self-sufficiently within the labour market to realise potential through sustainable employment”. When looked at in more detail, the authors look at employability in terms of a person’s “employability assets” that consists of their knowledge, skills and attitudes. They also look at it in terms of the “deployment” of such assets which includes career management skills including job search skills. In addition to that, “presentation” is necessary and involves “job getting skills” such as, for example, CV writing, work experience and interview techniques. Finally, understanding and coping with the environment is another component that signifies a lot to making the most of a person’s “employability assets”.  Here, the environment may relate to personal circumstances such as family status or responsibilities and/or external factors such as the current level of opportunity within the labour market.

On the employers’ side, employability skills depend on what  they are looking for in the employee candidate. According to the UNESCO (2012, p. 16) “Employers want assurances that young people applying for jobs have at least strong foundation skills and can deploy their knowledge to solve problems, take the initiative and communicate with team members, rather than just follow prescribed routines. These skills are not taught from a textbook, but can be acquired through good quality education. Yet employers often indicate that these skills are lacking in new recruits to the labour market.”

According to the  ILO (2013) skills for the world of work would include the following




The levels of literacy and numeracy necessary to get work that will pay enough to meet daily needs.

Vocational or technical

Specialized skills, knowledge or know-how needed to per form specific duties or tasks.


Individual attributes relevant to work such as honesty, integrity, reliability, work ethic.

Core work skills

The abilities:

to learn and adapt; to read, write and compute competently;

to listen and communicate effectively;

to think creatively; to solve problems independently; to manage oneself at work;

to interact with co-workers; to work in teams or groups;

to handle basic technology; and to lead effectively as well as follow supervision

Source: ILO, 2013

When considering the job requirements and the environment in which students are likely to step in after graduating, one finds that there at least basic things that the job aspirant must learn and master as a student or must come across in preparation for stepping out of the university. Bennett et al. (1999) grouped such requirements into five components including disciplinary content knowledge (theories, concepts and techniques explaining the subject matter), disciplinary skills (description of guidelines, principles, techniques, application processes and steps), workplace awareness (knowing and understanding the workplace philosophy and values, the do’s and not to do’s), workplace experience (being familiar and conversant with job tasks, demonstrating the competence to execute assignments in efficient and effective manners), and generic skills (abilities to adapt and handle situations in flexible and consistent manners).  

When looking at the above points, there are functional as well as personality aspects that need to be considered when defining or describing employability skills. Whilst some may be linked to entrepreneurship, others can be inclined more to management factors. By considering Watts’s (2006, pp. 9-10) description of employability, his focus is on the context of planned experiences designed to facilitate the development of “Decision learning, opportunity awareness, transition learning and Self-awareness. While decision learning involves decision making skills which, in a way or another, constitutes the backbone of any successful organization, students should also learn how to detect and know what work opportunities exist and what their requirements are. In their transition from student to employee status where graduate must look for better opportunities, graduates should have acquired job searching and self-presenting skills that help them to confidently jump the transition period. Graduates should also have self-awareness with regard to interests, abilities, values, ets. that will allow them to swiftly adapt and overcome uncertainties characterizing the employment environment they join.

It is also important to recognize that the environment in which employability skills apply plays an important role in their process of development and transfer. For examples, there are two “important areas of skills development – informal education and training and workplace-based learning. The first is dominant in many least developed countries, especially in Africa. The second, one of the essential functions of most if not all enterprises, is intimately linked to skills development generally, and often parallels or complements education and training provided through the formal TVET system” (ILO, 2010). While this is much clear for vocational occupations, one might ask himself what happens to such students or individuals who are not in vocational learning, be it in formal or informal employments.  This is a matter the ILO (2010) has found very challenging. It is not easy balancing supply of skills since the demand in the labour market constitutes one of the fundamental issues in skills development policy. Not only is the balancing an issue but also finding an adequate response to these challenges as “the demand for skilled labour has risen significantly as a result of globalization, changes in technology, the organization of work, new development policies, including the transition to a low carbon economy, and the recent international financial crises and subsequent worldwide recession”(ILO, 2010).

Based on such environment and embedded challenges, different individual skills sets are needed. They may include a mix of generic skills such as the ability to think logically, to plan precisely, to anticipate difficulties and to be innovative and creative so as develop and update the ―necessary capacities and skills [individuals] need to enable them to be productively employed for their personal fulfilment and the common well-being (ILO, 2008b: 9, ILO, 2010). As the ILO states, generic skills form an essential component of a sustainable institutional and economic environment in which public and private enterprises enable growth. They are essential for the generation of greater employment and income opportunities for all citizens, play a big role in allowing societies achieve their goals of economic development, good living standards and social progress. Based on such observations, there is a demand for a more skilled labour force, with more autonomous, adaptable and multi-functional workers.

Having described and defined employability skills, it is necessary to clarify that some terminologies used in different countries may be interpreted differently yet they mean/describe the same thing (Ncver, 2003).

Different terms used for generic skills or competencies






Key competencies


Core competencies

New Zealand

Essential skills


Strategy for prosperity

United States

Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) & workplace know-how

South Africa

Critical cross field outcomes

United Kingdom

Core/common skills & employability skills


Critical enabling skills training (CREST)


Transferable competencies


Framework for evaluating educational outcomes


Process independent qualifications


Core curriculum


Transversal competencies


Trans-disciplinary goals


Key qualifications


Source: Australian National Training Authority, 2003


What are employability skills

There is no universal or exhaustive list of employability skills. Different publications have classified employability skills based on whether they apply to vocational and non-vocational situations. In such a classification some skills are common. However, their development and transfer approaches and means differ. Some may need more tangible, practical and technical might while others may need soft ways like a change in mindset, behavior and attitudes. In this context, people may distinguish between hard skills and soft skills.

The Georgia department of education (2012) identified ten major areas important to Employability Skill Development from which lessons may be designed for teaching these skills to students. These include: display of professional attitude, exhibits of good work ethics, demonstrate appropriate work behaviors, communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally, build essential work relationships, show adeptness at managing self and time, perform well in a team environment, demonstrate excellent customer service skills, solve problems effectively, demonstrate job getting and keeping skills.

According to Suleman (2018, p.263) a growing body of literature has emerged to illustrate the strong pressure on higher education institutions to prepare graduates for the world of work…. Although the underlying premise of the available research is that higher education institutions and policymakers should be provided with information on employability skills, the studies examined in his paper suggest that the identification of those skills is an impossible endeavour. Agreement is only found on some cognitive, technical, and relational skills. More importantly, it is argued that the supply-side approach overlooks economic and social processes that might affect employability. The problem of graduates’ employability transcends higher education institutions’ provision of useful and matched skills.

Olivier et al. (2014) condensed the skills required by employers into six broad clusters: foundation skills which include written and oral communication, problem solving, and critical analysis; adaptive capacity which involves the ability to adapt to new situations and foreign workplaces, learn autonomously, develop new ideas, and innovate; team working and interpersonal skills; IT skills; employability skills related to coping with pressure and stress, being flexible and adaptable, and meeting deadlines; and technical and domain specific skills.

The ILO (2013) categorizes employability skills into four blocs each having a set of indicators that need to be considered. Though they appear in different blocs, they are very much intertwined. This interrelationship limits the possibility to separate one from the other and, on the other side, allows to impact more than just one indicator in the development or transfer process.  Similarly, the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) demonstrates that the interrelationships between the discrete skills are as important as the skills themselves. Key theoretical underpinnings include social constructivism and adult learning theories which describe learning as an interactive, constructive process of meaning-making, closely aligned to the learner-centred teaching approach (CLD, 2013) .

The first category concerns “Learning to learn” which covers the knowledge, skills, attitudes and aptitudes which enable individuals to set, plan and reach their own learning goals and become independent autonomous learners. These skills equip young people for lifelong learning. The second category is about “Communication” which covers the abilities to gain understanding from others – by listening, reading and observation, using both formal and informal, oral and written means – and to put across ideas clearly and effectively. The third category is about “Teamwork” which covers the abilities necessary to operate smoothly and efficiently within a group, including those related to both cooperation and leadership. The last involves “Problem-solving” which deals with the analytical skills required to evaluate information or situations and decide on the most appropriate ways of addressing problems. These skills include awareness of long-term consequences of actions taken and the capacity to assess and adapt plans of action.

 The following table describes more.

Broad skill category

Core work skills/abilities

Learning to learn

being willing to learn, using learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills, working safely, pursuing independent learning, taking responsibility for own learning, thinking abstractly, organizing, processing and holding information, interpreting and communicating information, conducting systematic inquiry, following through to find answers, using time effectively and efficiently without sacrificing quality,  selecting the best approach for tasks, beginning, following through and completing tasks, being adaptable


reading competently, reading, understanding and using materials, including graphs, charts and displays, understanding and speaking the language in which the business is conducted, writing effectively in the languages in which the business is conducted, writing to the needs of an audience, listening and communicating effectively, listening to understand and learn, using numeracy effectively, articulating own ideas and vision


managing oneself at work, working in teams or groups, interacting with co-workers, respecting the thoughts and opinions of others in the group, working within the culture of the group, understanding and contributing to the organization’s goals, planning and making decisions with others and supporting the outcomes, taking accountability for actions, building partnerships and coordinating a variety of experiences, working towards group consensus in decision-making, valuing others’ input, accepting feedback, resolving conflicts, coaching, mentoring and giving feedback, leading effectively, mobilizing a group for high performance


thinking creatively, solving problems independently, testing assumptions, identifying problems, taking the context of data and circumstances into account, identifying and suggesting new ideas to get the job done (initiative), collecting, analyzing and organizing information (planning and organization), planning and managing time, money and other resources to achieve goals

Source: (ILO, 2013)

Given such classifications by different authors and organizations, all employability skills are relevant but they must be properly aligned with the context they are likely to fit well. This requires a perfect assessment of the environment they are needed in and factors that are likely to cause them produce higher or lower effects. 


AQF. (2013). Core  Skills  for  Work  Framework (CSfW),

CLD. (2013). Employability: A good practice guide. 83.

Education, G. D. of. (n.d.). Section ten: Teaching Employability Skills (Issue July, pp. 0–12).

ILO. (2010). Teachers and trainers for the future – Technical and vocational education and training in a changing world (First, Issue September).

ILO. (2013). Enhancing youth employability : The importance of core work skills (Issue May). www.ilo.org/skills

Ncver. (2003). Defining generic skills At a glance. Ncver 2003, 1–12.

Pool, L. D., & Sewell, P. (2007). The key to employability: Developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education and Training, 49(4), 277–289. https://doi.org/10.1108/00400910710754435

Suleman, F. (2018). The employability skills of higher education graduates: insights into conceptual frameworks and methodological options. Higher Education, 76(2), 263–278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-017-0207-0

UNESCO, 2012. EFA global monitoring report, 2012.Youth and skills putting education to work, summary.




Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Definition and background of learning to learn skills

Learning to learn also known as Lifelong learning is the ability to pursue and persist in learning, to organize one's own learning, including through effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups (Hoskins, 2010). Lifelong learning is viewed as involving all strategies that are put in place to created opportunities for people to learn throughout life. It is about learning of what, how, when and where one wants to learn (Marjan Laal, 2014). According to Gould (2009) and Fredriksson (2013) there are various considerations when defining and describing this concept. These include:

Learners can be distinguished between intention learners and self-directed. Becoming an intentional learner means developing self-awareness about the reason for study, the learning process itself, and how education is used. Intentional learners are integrative thinkers who see connections in seemingly disparate information to inform their decisions.

Self-directed learners are highly motivated, independent, and strive toward self-direction and autonomy (Ciechanowska, 2011)., They take the initiative to diagnose their learning needs, formulate learning goals, identify resources for learning, select and implement learning strategy, and evaluate learning outcomes (Savin-Baden and Major, 2004). When it comes to students learning for life, they should learn to:

In addition to intellectual skills, the learning should include ways of investigating human society and the natural world such as the human imagination, expression, and the products of many cultures; the interrelations within and among global and cross-cultural communities; means of modelling the natural, social, and technical etc.

Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Development models for learning to learn

Development models of learning how to learn (Daniel K. Apple, 2015)

Approaches vary depending on whether the person is in the early stages of learning or is in the advanced stages. The complexities of learning to learn also increase as one gets mature and they vary in accordance to the environment the skills and knowledge acquired will apply to. Though varying in many ways, they all revolve around the capacity to read text, numbers or situations, the capacity to transform the data or information into meaningful messages, the ability to apply or make others apply. Therefore, some of effective approaches which teachers can use to develop learning capabilities and the characteristics identified in the review include the following:

According to Vauras et al. (1999), in another example, inquiry skills are developed by envisioning snapshots of what it would mean to be successful at each stage of the task combined with consolidation through the completion of concrete tasks. The key components of the interventions are planning, based on a good understanding of the processes of learning, key concepts of the content to be studied, and an awareness of the learning context. There is also support for the view that the orientation towards learning should be one in which success results from appropriately guided effort and not on a construct of ability.

In short, approaches which explicitly develop learners’ awareness of strategies and learning techniques by which they can succeed are effective, particularly when they are targeted at the metacognitive level.

Stages for elevating thinking skills (Daniel K. Apple, 2015).

  1. The first stage in applying thinking to the learning process is actively thinking about what you already know, and transferring prior knowledge and different life experiences to the current learning challenge.
  2. The second stage is processing the available information through effective reading using a very thoughtful and purposeful methodology.
  3. The next stage is to clarify the learning goals and expectations so that a plan can be created for achieving these learning outcomes.
  4. The crucial stage of the learning experience is thinking critically by using relevant information and prior knowledge to analyse and understand models and examples. Comprehension is enhanced by conversing with others and writing to learn
  5. The final stage is applying the thinking skills needed to contextualize and generalize this knowledge so that it can be transferred to new problem-solving situations.
Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Transmission approaches for learning to learn

This refers to the ability to identify one’s preferred language learning style in order to use it to improve the reading and writing skills. The person should consider that he/she will always use multiple learning styles, although he/she might favor one. There are three types of learners according to Valencia J. A. (2014): visual learners, auditory learners, and kinaesthetic learners. A set of learning strategies specific to each follow.

Visual learners are proficient at reading charts, spelling, learning by watching videos or demonstrations, and using words and phrases that evoke visual images. The following strategies can help develop their reading and writing skills: first, write annotations in the margins of readings; circle, underline, or highlight unknown words to look up in a dictionary, or even main ideas to easily recall information from assigned readings.  Second, transfer concepts from assigned readings into diagrams, flowcharts, or drawings. This will be especially helpful if one has trouble understanding the plot of narratives as it will help to identify main components and textual strategies. Third, use colors to help better recognize the paragraph structure in terms of PIE (point, illustration, explanation). For example, highlight points in red, illustrations in green, and explanations in yellow.

Auditory learner prefers to receive information by verbal explanation rather than by reading. They like to talk through concepts, give presentations, or read out loud. The following strategies help develop the reading and writing skills: Read aloud when wanting to focus on learning specific concepts from the readings. Use this strategy during the revision process to help to identify grammar mistakes, confusing sentences, and other editing issues. Take advantage of any opportunity to discuss out loud texts one is reading or writing with other people. To begin a writing assignment, talk about the ideas with someone else. As one talks, he writes an outline and considers ways to structure his/her ideas.

Kinaesthetic learners absorb, process, and retain new information best by doing, moving, or engaging in activities that require interaction with others. Strategies help develop the reading and writing skills: Draw, underline, or highlight in the book while reading; then, make graphs, diagrams, and concept maps to help understand the material. One can look for active ways to engage the ideas such as posting parts of the essay on the walls of the room, then walking around reading them. This may help to identify new ideas or ways to improve one’s work. Additionally, one may use markers of various colors to make notes on the draft that will help to activate the visual system.

Recognizing whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learner and identifying strategies that correspond to your learning style will help you to learn more effectively and efficiently. 

Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Learning to learn strategies & techniques

Learning to learn strategies (Weinstein, 2000)

‘Learning to learn’ strategies include any thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, or emotions that facilitate the acquisition, understanding, or later application and transfer of new knowledge and skills in different performance contexts. They range from active rehearsal to help remember word lists, to the use of elaboration and organization to encode, integrate, and later recall or apply knowledge across several content areas. Learning to learn strategies help generate meaning for the new information that is to be learned.

They all are designed to help the learner generate meaning and store the new information in memory in a manner that will facilitate integration with related knowledge and increase the probability of later recall and use, particularly in transfer contexts.

A learning strategy is also a plan for orchestrating cognitive resources to help reach a learning goal. ‘Learning to learn’ strategies have several characteristics in common.

  1. First, they are goal-directed: ie they are used to help meet a standard of performance or to reach a learning goal.
  2. Second, they are intentionally invoked, which implies at least some level of active selection. The selection of one or more of these strategies is determined by a number of factors, such as a student's prior experience with the strategy, his or her prior experience with similar learning tasks, his or her ability to deal with distractions, and the student's commitment to his or her goals.
  3. Third, cognitive learning strategies are effortful; they require time and often involve using multiple, highly interactive steps. Because of the effort required, a student must be motivated to initiate and maintain strategy use (e.g., see Motivation, Learning, and Instruction). In addition, the student must believe that the strategy will be effective and that he or she can be successful using the strategy.
  4. Finally, cognitive learning strategies are not universally applicable—they are situation-specific. The student's goals, the task requirements, the context, and other factors all interact to help determine which strategy may be best. To be successful in selecting and using a strategy, a student must understand under what circumstances a given strategy is, or is not appropriate.

Techniques/Tools for learning how to learn (Fredriksson, 2013).

  1. Reading literacy: “An individual’s capacity to understand, use and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society”
  2. Mathematic literacy: An individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well- founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen
  3. Scientific literacy : An individual’s scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, to acquire new knowledge, to explain scientific phenomena, and to draw evidence based conclusions about science-related issues, understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and enquiry, awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual, and cultural environments, and willingness to engage in science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen
  4. Problem solving: Problem solving is an individual’s capacity to use cognitive processes to confront and resolve real, cross-disciplinary situations where the solution path is not immediately obvious and where the literacy domains or curricular areas that might be applicable are not within a single domain of mathematics, science or reading” (Valencia J. A., 2014).
Learning to learn or lifelong learning

Learning to learn - challenges

Lifelong learning is viewed as involving all strategies that are put in place to created opportunities for people to learn throughout life. It is about learning of what, how, when and where one wants to learn. Various challenges are to be found to many spheres of life including: financial, demographic, technological, social, environmental and democratic challenges (Marjan Laal, 2014).

The pressures and demands of everyday life in an increasingly more complex world make learning more challenging. According to Smith (2014), To be successful in life as well as in college, learners must produce strong learning performances even while meeting non-academic but top-priority challenges, such as being exhausted from hours of work, nursing a sick child, or caring for an aging grandparent. On top of this, when tragedies occur (a divorce, a layoff, an accident, or the death of a family member or friend) the recovery must be quick and effective. Thus, improving emotional skills of persisting, coping, responding to failures, and adapting to change is critical to building the resilience that is needed to overcome the difficulties that arise from personal factors. As facility with other learning to-learn components grows (e.g., higher levels of learning, improved learning skills, and identity as a learner), so does the proactive problem-solving capacity for addressing these personal factors.

Tools for learning to learn

Tools for learning to learn


Field of application

Formulating opinions, questions and problems, getting to know others opinions and problems

Resume / Brief description


The students are given 60 seconds to jot down on paper some responses to an aspect of related to the current session.



Target group


Any group of students or trainees


  • The function of this exercise is solely to get a ‘dipstick’ measurement of the selected topic
  • Discover and control understanding of a subject
  • Know the problems and open questions of the trainess for clarification
  • Evaluation of an event
  • Prepare and activate for exchange on experiences (with followed discussion)





Material: maybe blank paper or prepared sheet with questions for each participant


Time: 5-30 minutes (depending on implementation; with or without evaluation in plenary at the end)

Implementation - Overview

1. Trainer gives 2-3 questions

2. Trainees respond to it briefly (one minute) by writing their responses down

3. Responses can be collected by trainer and evaluated in the subsequent session (anonymous) or be discussed openly in plenary.

Implementation - Guidelines





If you wish to know what your students learned, you can do the following:


The students can also drop the responses into a box at the front of the class, which the lecture can take to the office afterwards and read the responses to get a sense of what the students have learned, where there might be gaps in their knowledge, what aspects of the teaching practice they are responding to, and so on.


Bearing in mind that the students only have one minute to write a response, might provide prompts like the following:

  • Write down the three key things you learned in today's lecture.
  • In your own words, tell me what you understand by [insert concept here].
  • What was the most confusing point in today's class?
  • How useful was the group exercise that we did in class today? Please give details.

A yes or no answer does not help you much, so it is a good idea to

word the question so that it elicits as much detail as possible.


Other possible questions are:

  • What questions in regard of the (today's) topic are still unanswered for you?
  • What is the most important thing of today's session for you?
  • What should be clarified and trained more?
  • How do you assess the planning and enrolment of today's session
  • What do you remember of last session's topic?
  • Define in one sentence,...

Example of application:

In the ACCESS Summer School 2021 one of the applied one-minute-paper exercises was used for individual activation for the topic "learning to learn".

The used questions were:

- What interests me about today's topic? What questions do I have about it?

- What will I do to learn successfully today?

Templates, Graphics for download

Explanations in German: One-Minute-Paper_GER.pdf

Additional format/references









Tools for learning to learn

Thinking Log (Protocol)

Please use this template when presenting and describing a tool (for skills development)


Field of application

Reflection, Learning process, processes

Resume / Brief description


Two persons are working together. Person A does an exercise and says outloud all thoughts that come to her mind. Person B notes all the thoughts so that they can be discussed afterwards.

Target group

(including group size)


Ideally, the group size is divisible through 2.


Making thoughts "visible", reflection and awarness of thinking processes in our minds






  • Task, e.g. text/article that Person A should read
  • Paper/blank Word document for notes of Person B

Time: ~ 30 minutes

  • 10 minutes for tandem work
  • 20 minutes for evaluation in plenary


Implementation - Overview


  1. Trainer/lecturer gives/presents the task
  2. Group is sent in tandem groups (2, max. 3, if not equal)


  1. Tandem decides who is Person A or B
  2. Person A realizes the task given by trainer/lecture and says her thoughts that she has during the exercise out loud
  3. Person B notes what Person A says, without taking notes of the task's content itself


Evaluation of thoughts noted in plenary.

Example of application:

ACCESS Summer School_Thinking log (protocol).pdf
Tools for learning to learn

Focus Sprint

Field of application

#creativity #brainstorming

Resume / Brief description


This technique of writing and thinking is used to focus on a specific aspect of your writing topic. This promotes concentration and attention. It helps against getting bogged down. It's about letting your thoughts flow on a certain topic within a set time. The important thing is not to censor your thoughts.


Target group

(including group size)

Focus Sprints are ideally suited for anyone who...

  • wants to take a more concrete look at individual focal points of content.
  • wants to become familiar with certain aspects of the writing topic.
  • wants to write down everything about this aspect first.
  • wants likes to deal with own thoughts and ideas in writing.

Applicable for individuals or a group. If working with groups, the facilitator needs to decide in which way the results will be shared (or not).


  • concentrate on one topic at once
  • activate and collect all possible thoughts, opinions, memories etc. in regard of that topic
  • get focused on the essential





Material: Paper & pen

online: WORD document where the participant writes


Time: 5 minutes for writing and 1 minute for evaluating the focus sprint

Implementation - Overview

  • Formulate a headline to direct the focus.
  • Write down any thoughts that come to mind about this heading.
  • Do not pause.
  • If you still get stuck or digress, reread the headline. Alternatively, simply copy the headline.
  • After four minutes, stop writing.
  • Mark keywords and/or statements in the focus sprint that are important and that you want to adopt for further elaboration.

Implementation - Guidelines





1. The facilitator (or the person him/herself) formulate a headline to direct the focus on. This heading can be a question or a quote or a sentence starter.

2. Participants spend five minutes writing down as quickly as possible without pausing - as close as possible to your inner language, exactly as your thoughts form in your head.
While they write down their thoughts, new thoughts arise, which they in turn write down. Then they immediately evaluate the text by reading it and marking everything that is significant. Under the text they then write one key sentence that sums up the most important points.

This will give you other ideas, help you find your core idea and practice a new thinking strategy: Over time you (re)get used to thinking thoroughly, concentrated and purposefully. In doing so, you also set a counterpoint to the fast speed of thinking in everyday working life.

Templates, Graphics for download

Source (German):