USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking has developed a new, communication-driven, research-based methodology to frame and solve problems that can help organizations and individuals make better, wiser decisions in today’s complex and ever-changing world.
Somewhere between the important, but limited conventional engineer’s mindset and the MBA’s toolkit lies the third space of communication-centric thinking and its critical “soft” skills that most experts agree are the hardest to find, define, nurture and leverage.
Through our research, we have uncovered five attributes that when successfully combined can complement and extend the two dominant, more traditional strategic approaches offered by engineering and MBA thinking. These competencies and the distinctive way of thinking they unlock are critical to success in today’s continually disrupted world, yet are grossly under supplied in the market.
Third Space Thinking, created by Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III alongside Annenberg’s renowned professors, is based on four years of in-depth, multi-method research around the world, including conversation with 75 global business leaders, combined with deep analytics from Korn Ferry, McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group that led us to uncover a new, strategic space others had over looked.
The Third Space model builds upon the core element of the new global reality. As the communications revolution rushes to the center of modern society, success now demands new innovative ways of thinking and acting in the face of radical changes. Armed with the five attributes of Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, and 360-Degree Thinking, our partners are better able to seize amazing new opportunities and reduce dangerous risks in today’s digital, communication-rich world. We invite you to join and co-create our future collaborative space together.
Based on our research we uncovered five attributes that are critical to success in today’s complex world, yet are grossly under supplied in the market. Those competencies are:
Demonstrates mental agility and remains comfortable with ambiguity and flexible in the face of continual change. Capable of effective problem-solving and exploration of various alternative scenarios by drawing upon principles from multiple disciplines, including design, technology and economics as well as communications.
Demonstrates emotional and cross-cultural intelligence; capable of working inclusively and respectfully with others of various cultures and orientations. Also demonstrates organizational intelligence and broad, cross-functional thinking, shunning the limitations of structural, geographic, departmental, or other organizational boundaries that may hinder effective problem-solving and goal attainment.
Capable of understanding others’ priorities and perspectives by engaging in active listening and focusing on reflective responses that clarify and strengthen dialogue. Able to effectively interpret others’ viewpoints and integrate these insights into more effective approaches for problem-solving and need fulfillment.
Possesses a hunger for knowledge that fuels ever-higher levels of learning and performance. Strives for measureable growth and demonstrates emotional intelligence and savvy with regard to organizational and cultural mores.
Takes a holistic, multi-dimensional, analytical approach to problem-solving. Able to convert information into insights, considering potential relationships between disparate data points and engaging in sense-making by “connecting the dots.”
Ernest James Wilson III
Founding Director of the Center for Third Space Thinking
Ernest James Wilson III, Ph.D., served two terms as the Walter Annenberg Chair in Communication and Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He is also a professor of political science, a faculty fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, a board […]
Fellow, USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking
Board of Advisors
President of David Bishop Media, Inc
Managing Partner Amplify.LA and Venture Partner Greycroft Partners
Senior Advisor, Third Space
Principal, JCI Worldwide
Chair of Strategic Public Relations at USC Annenberg
Investment Director at TechCode AI Accelerator
Member Board of Advisors at Nile Capital
Chief Global Officer, Deloitte
Co-president and Executive Producer, Wise Entertainment
President and Founder of Modena Holding Corporation
Senior Corporate Advisor, Weber Shandwick
Founder and CEO of KTStewart
Principal, Swain Corporation
CEO of The Totenberg Group
Leaders and key faculty from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism have conducted deep dive consultations with 75 C-suite and senior communications executives, from a broad range of industries and from Fortune 50 companies to media start-ups, to better understand the depth and breadth of challenges they’re facing. Read our white paper that further defines the scale and scope of Third Space and its core attributes.
Learn how executives applied the Third Space competencies in Walt Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006.
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