Deep Thoughts

What Batman can teach us about skill building

This is a tongue in cheek post but one that has an important message on having a varied skill set that continues to evolve and contribute to your overall talent stack.

Many say that skills in the workplace is the biggest economy nowadays and it’s hard to disagree. The skills you possess make you more attractive to employers, allow you to execute on the work you do and pay for your lifestyle.

Yes, you heard that right, the better quality and diversity of your skills, the more dollars are dropping in your bank account.

It has always been important to build new skills, evolve current ones and leave behind those that no longer fit with your work. I was first introduced to the concept of expiring, evolving and emerging skills from the good folk at Gartner and it’s something I feel more people should be paying attention to.

So, skills pay the bills and the better your skills, the more great work you can do.

When I was running through my thoughts, trying to think of a way to perfectly demonstrate how having varied and constantly evolving skills that keep up with the modern era will enable us all to have great results in work. I, of course, came to the answer of… Batman.

Yes, that’s right – Batman, aka the dark knight, aka a super intelligent, wealthy and handsome guy that runs around in a leather batsuit to scare the underworld.

If not apparent by now or this is the first time you’ve read any of my work. I am a massive geek and in particular a Batman geek. I was that kid, who on careers day, would not follow suit with the rest of my classmates in a generic answer to the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’.

While most would generally say I want to be a doctor, policeman, firefighter or perhaps vet. I would pipe up and say – Batman. 

When challenged on this answer by my teacher’s, who proclaimed that this career is not possible as Batman is not real. I would calmly reply, with some of the first signs of my now legendary (to some!) sarcastic/dry humour, with “That’s just because you can’t be Batman”

Anyway, for those you don’t know the legend of the dark knight. The short version is that he’s supposed to be a super smart guy, part detective and part ninja who comes with a package full of skills to take on the vast crime that sweeps his city. (By skills, I don’t mean the ability to have stupid pointy nipples on his suit! And yes, I am pointing the finger at you for that George Clooney).

Batman has no superpowers. He’s just a smart guy with lots of money, who likes to kick ass in a batsuit.

What has allowed him to do the things he does best (which includes kicking the crap out of that super powered moaner in blue tights and red cape) is his diverse and constantly evolving skill set.

Batman is well-known for his almost limitless set of skills. It’s these skills and his continued commitment to keeping with the times in evolving these skills, embracing new technology and continuing to study which have allowed him to remain relevant in his world.

So, let me stop my love letter about Batman and let’s start to explore what we can learn from the dark knights approach to building a diverse and evolving set of skills for ourselves.

To bring this to life, I will be focusing on the skills that modern learning teams need and how you can add them to your talent stack with the help of some Batman stories.

Market yourself

Batman uses an array of channels to let people know what he’s all about.

Whether that’s through the bat signal shined into the sky or those tiny little batarang devices he throws into walls and people. It’s all a part of his marketing approach. It’s evolved over time to keep up with the digital age, so much so that I’m sure he’ll be dropping viral tik-tok videos soon direct to criminals devices.

Now you don’t need a billion dollar budget to produce marketing campaigns. You most likely have an in-house marketing team or better yet yourself. There are loads of ways you can market your work to the masses with tons of free online tools like Canva.

So, be like Batman and use the evolving set of marketing tech to let your audience know what you’re all about.

Branding everywhere

Just like the bat symbol you can build a brand for learning in your business but instead of striking fear into the hearts of criminals, you can bring joy and opportunity through making people better humans.

Learn how to use the power of branding to create connection with your audience. Start off simple by building a logo that people will recognise is yours.

Get your detective skills on 

Did you know that Batman is supposed to be a world class detective? I know right. It gets lost in the films with some of the less logical scenes and more let’s throw this guy through a wall instead.

However, just like the dark knight. You too, need to use your detective skills to understand the problems or challenges your users face.

Instead of pummelling your users face into the wall and screaming where is she! I instead recommend you work on asking better questions. The key to unlocking the insights you need to build the right experience will be through the right questions and actively listening to their response.

Detective skills or the ability to ask the right questions at the right time are a value add to any modern day learning professionals talent stack.

Embrace technology

If anything Batman is known for his gadgets. The batmobile, the bat plane, the batarang, the bat phone, the ultra dark dark but not quite matte black bat suit and the list goes on.

One thing that has always been apparent for the caped crusader, is his adaptability to the times and utilising the best current wave of tech to support his mission.

You too can and should do this. I meet many people in the industry who can barely operate their email, let alone understand how to build a learning architecture.

So, get with the times. Keep up to date with the latest innovations and understand how they might help you. I’m not saying you need to be an expert. You just need to be aware of what’s out there and if it could benefit your users.

Tech can be a great enabler if used in the right way. Don’t just buy any old thing that looks flashy and throw it out to your audience, and expect it to work.

That’s like Batman buying a Tesla and roaming the streets in a masterpiece of tech that will only last a few hours until it needs to be charged – not practical.

Technology can be an enabler to your work. Like the bat does, tech should be selected by it’s application of use and not because it looks cool yet brings no actual value.

Show me the data

With his detective skills, Batman has a thirst for getting the right data to solve the problem at hand. We should develop a keen mind for facts and figures to support our theories too.

Just like the time he did his research to find the weakness of that guy who flies around with a red cape, tight pants and seriously over waxed hair. We too, must find the data that will support the many challenges we face.

They say data is the new oil. It’s time for all L&D professionals to get comfortable with not only collecting the right data, but understanding how to use it too.

Experiment and innovate 

The Batcave has been the testing ground for many of the cool pieces of Waynetech that have made its way out onto the streets of gotham with the big bat.

Before we can release any product into the live world, we need to do some testing. Building the space and time to experiment and innovate with your learning solutions will be essential in enabling you to build the right stuff for your audience.

The skill of curiosity and a design mind are a winning combination to build the best solutions to tackle the ever changing challenges we face.

What does this mean for you?

In essence, two things:

  1. A diverse skillset is the key to life long employment

We no longer live in a world where being really good at just one thing is going to get you by. You need to understand how several things work and how you can bring them together to deliver.

  1. Evolving with the times and new tech is inevitable

Just because you’ve spent 20 years of your career doing things one way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way anymore.

The best examples for me, come to mind with the new wave of collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams challenging the status quo of emails. I meet so many shall I say ‘veterans’ of the game who look at these evolved pieces of tech in fear and shun them rather than embrace, that I worry they will soon be left behind by the lack of their digital skills.

What you can do now

Be curious. Identify your expiring , evolving and emerging skills, no matter the sector you work in.

The key to reaching or even exceeding your potential is amassing the right skills which will enable you to deliver great work. So, learn from Batman who has been around since the late 1930’s and even more relevant today.

Keep evolving and diversifying your skills!

You might also like

The skills we need for future-fit careers

Recognise learning as an everyday behaviour

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

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