Future-proof your skillset – 5 tips to succeed in 2022
Steven Angelo-Edie, Emergn VP VFQ Services, shares 5 tips to succeed in 2022. He has been involved in IT for over 30 years but began to focus on helping teams improve their agility while working with Microsoft on the Domain-Specific Languages and Software Factories projects in 2004. Since then, he has educated thousands of people across the globe and led many agile education programs in some of the most complex and prestigious organizations.
Steven suggests the most important skill anybody can gain is the capacity for learning. Read his recommendations on how to begin and succeed on the road of lifelong learning.
1. Life’s most important skill is learning how to learn
People need time and space to learn something new. That means creating a space for failure. That word scares a lot of people, and to be clear I’m not promoting failure. But we need to create more tolerant environments in ourselves and especially in the workplace if we want to promote successful continuous learning.
Companies can’t ignite a passion for lifelong learning by forcing people to learn; employers have to create the conditions for it and allow employees to discover that passion themselves. The most important skill anybody can have is the capacity for learning. By creating environments where it’s okay for people to try, experiment, and even occasionally fail, we can fall in love with learning, which puts us on the path towards closing any skills gaps.
2. Understand your learning style
I love to read books. I get a lot of new ideas out of a book. But it’s not really until I verbalize the concepts, discuss them with people, shape them, play with them, and put them into practice that I start to understand the ramifications of the ideas. In fact, many of my aha moments (or best ideas) come mid-sentence. I actually need to be talking and interacting with others rather than sitting in a room on my own. But that doesn’t mean some alone time and reflection is not helpful in my overall learning process. I know this about myself, and one thing I’m pretty sure about is that you are probably different.
Maybe your dominant intake process is video rather than reading. You might need more time to reflect. Perhaps you can’t think when others are talking. Or you might be someone who needs to figure out everything from scratch. The optimal blend of these techniques is inherently personal. Take some time to reflect on what helps you learn best so that you can make the most of the learning time you have available.
Regardless of your learning style, the key thing for adult learning is that the learner needs to be in control of both the goal, the decision-making, and the reason for the learning. It’s also not enough to just watch a series of videos or read a book. You need active experimentation – or Learning By Doing.
3. Learn By Doing
Emergn’s Value, Flow, Quality (VFQ) approach (our work-based principles and practices framework) is based on the idea of Learning By Doing. It’s a simple idea, but an extremely complex process that’s different for everyone. To really understand how new ways of working can be implemented, you need to practice. This is not something you can truly learn in the classroom or by reading books. You need feedback – feedback from peers and other practitioners. Feedback from your environment and context. Insights from observers and onlookers. Ideas from talking things through. Feedback from your own thoughts and reflection. Basically, feedback from learning.
4. Embrace curiosity and critical thinking
When people become curious, they start asking better questions and pushing the people around them to do more. There will already be many people outside your company who are critical of you (your customers, competitors, analysts, etc.) who can do nothing about your improvement (although they can all exacerbate the challenges!). Having staff with a skill in critically assessing the organisation with the authority to create improvements, generate new ideas, and/or challenge the status quo creates a powerful combination that can really develop real innovation for the benefit of your customers.
5. Learn with a community
It has been said, that to really understand a topic you must try to teach it. Much of our experience, knowledge, and learning is amassed informally over time. By that, I mean much of what we learn is outside of a classroom or a formal learning process. In order to solidify our knowledge, we need to take it from being implicit to explicit. Teaching helps this process.
There is no one who has your exact experience, so they can’t truly understand all of your perspectives and insights without exploring the topic together. When becoming a mentor or teaching others, you need to remember that it is always a two-way process. Both people get value by listening to each other and sharing insights.
In today’s fast-moving, customer-centric, digital world, learning fast is a competitive advantage to be able to adapt and respond to change. A learning culture can and should be cultivated and encouraged. Remember, if no one has your exact experience, it means you don’t have theirs either. Be open, be kind and listen to each other – we can all learn.