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Deep Thoughts

L&D (alone) won’t solve your problems, here’s why

Here’s a one liner that might confuse, shock and perhaps, enrage some workplace learning teams. Building L&D products, solutions or tools (alone) won’t solve 99% of supposed workplace performance problems.

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Deep Thoughts

The search for purpose: Let’s find our Ikigai 生き甲斐

Before we begin:

If you’ve read any of my stuff before, particularly my work on Steal These Thoughts!, then you’ll know I have a somewhat obsession with human development and the exploration of meaning.

I’m of the opinion that having meaning in life is more important than happiness. Mainly because happiness is an emotional state, one that is fleeting and cannot be sustained. Whereas meaning is something that drives us, gives us a sense of being and will more likely provide the moments of happiness we seek.

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Deep Thoughts

You are not defined by your parents blueprint

A quick note before we begin:

This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for sometime, it’s actually been in the works for nearly 8 months.

I’ve always been fascinated by human behaviour and exploring why we do the things we do. As a society, mental health issues have been on a scary increase over the last 10-15 years and particularly in my generation, the anointed ‘millennials’.

I’m a believer in the fact that all of us in some way are dealing with the mechanics of a path and way of engaging with the world that we did not choose when we were infants, being most likely thrust upon us by those who raised us. As I’ve grown older, it’s become pretty clear to me that many of us struggle daily, because some of the things we have been taught in the environment from our younger years don’t actually help us live a good life now.

This post is not me telling you what to do, rather it’s a bunch of thoughts and insights that I feel can help you find some understanding in why you operate the way you do, whether that’s in how you think, feel or behave. It’s ultimately about recognising that you have a choice in everything in life and we have the power to change anything.

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Daily Thoughts

Power skills you need for life

Tell me, what are power skills?

Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Quite simply, power skills are the essential skills which all of us need for any career and generally to do stuff in life.

I’m talking about day to day tasks like communicating with your fellow humans, being able to share feedback (good and bad) and dealing with change. These are things that are not only essential in the workplace but in every day life too.

Power skills are important because skills are what pay the bills, and they give you the edge in many roles today and in the future.

Traditional career paths are kind of a useless thing as the concept of what careers are has changed so much.

Data tells us that on average, we’ll change jobs at least 12 times in our life. So for me, it makes sense to build a core set of skills to accelerate performance in any career.

What do I need to kick-ass in life and work?

There’s two sides to this coin. First, let’s take a look at what skills companies most need in this survey with over 23,000 HR leaders ⬇️

Hmm, interesting, right?

We can see that companies most value people management skills, the ability to adapt to changing situations and a problem solving mindset. With the events in most recent times, a lot of this makes sense.

But, if we flip over the coin, what are the skills people think they need to advance in their career? Let’s take a look ⬇️

Ok, we can now see a divide here in the company vs individual view.

Where companies are placing emphasis on being adaptable, navigating change and solving problems. The only agreed upon skill between both is for people management.

So, what does this tell us?

Well, quite obviously, many of us are focusing on the wrong skills. Yes, some of the skills could be viewed as similar but there’s a clear difference between both sets of data.

The power skills that companies want, are not the ones that most are focusing on for the future.

Choose your skills wisely

This is just one of a number of datasets available through the power of Google. If you’re a long time reader, who’ve seen a lot of my work on digital skills and how they play in the game of career longevity.

More recently, I’ve shared thoughts on knowing how to connect anyone with your work as a super power.

For my fellow friends in learning and education roles, the breadth of skills is ever growing. Which uniquely places many of us in the line of multiple career opportunities outside the world of learning design.

Power skills like communicating clearly, giving and receiving feedback, and dealing with the random curveballs of life in an ever changing environment are core fundamentals that will support you throughout your whole life.

To bring it home folks. Make sure you’re focusing on not only continuously building your skills but picking the right ones to focus on for your long-term success.


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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Steal These Thoughts! Newsletter: Cults, content consumption and freedom

Check out the latest edition of my newsletter.

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Steal These Thoughts! Newsletter: Stop sabotaging growth

Check out the latest edition of my newsletter.

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Daily Thoughts

The problem with KPI’s and learning cultures

I’ve spent most of my career being tasked with “building a learning culture” or “getting more of our people to be learners” – these have been continual threads throughout my whole career.

The funny thing is, there is no such thing as learners 😱, they’re only humans aka us. You don’t choose whether to be a “learner” or not. Much like you don’t choose to be a human.

Learning is a part of our programming. It’s how we know how to do all the stuff we do now. From the time we first started to walk to times where we’ve experienced pain, and figured out not to do that action again.

The fact is that a learning culture has always existed. Yet, the problem is that can’t be measured in a KPI, nor do many people recognise how they learn everyday through very little doing of their own.

So, much more of my work has been focused on helping people recognise that they learn everyday from many experiences. 

This has mostly happened because companies like to measure stuff so they can say ‘Yes we are doing this well or failing’. Even though cultures of learning exist within our communities, very few people recognise their daily interactions as learning moments, so hence they never answer employee surveys with a “Yes, I feel like I’m learning here”.

The problem stems not from the existence of a learning culture because it’s here and always has been. 

But rather, it comes from the understanding of those moments as learning and thus the person is actually learning something at company x because they’re receiving the info from people at this workplace. Hence, continuing to scale this culture of learning across the community.

This is the challenge for most workplace learning teams. The focus on building learning cultures is wrong. It is in the recognition of said learning and growth opportunities that people need help with.

Of course, all of this complexity around learning cultures and measurement comes from the requirement for companies to report on what they’re doing for their employees. 

Taking someone’s word from a biological point of view (like me) that the culture exists, does not satisfy C-suite teams when it comes to analysing employee engagement. Hence we have to play the game of the popular box ticking exercises with annual surveys.

To prove the value of a workplace learning function and to continue showcasing it’s prolonged need in the business. We must play the game and move those markers or what some may call vanity metrics.

By doing this, those yearly employee surveys where KPI’s are measured get a lot more love because people understand that yes, they have been learning at company x and thus this affirms the desired culture of learning which everyone seeks.

So, if you find yourself smashing your head off the wall, trying to decipher how one builds a culture of learning – stop. Instead, help your people recognise that learning is an everyday behaviour and one which they’re probably doing more of then they recognise.

I’m sure a lot of my fellow peers experience this too, and I’d love to know how you tackle it? ⬇️


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.

You can subscribe to my newsletter here or below.

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Steal These Thoughts! Newsletter: Where’s your empathy?

Check out the latest edition of my newsletter.