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Are you getting what you need?

July 17, 2018

“More than 90% of respondents say they need to update their skills at least yearly to work effectively in a digital world.”

The MITSloan Management Review recently released its report on the impacts of digital business. One critical finding related to skills and the need for constant update to keep pace with a fast-changing world. The report observed:

“Some 90% of respondents indicate that they need to update their skills at least yearly, with nearly half of them reporting the need to update skills continuously on an ongoing basis. Yet, only 34% of respondents say they are satisfied with the degree to which their organization supports ongoing skill development. Many organizations continue to rely on formal training for developing these skills, but cultivating an environment that allows on-the-job learning may be more effective.”

On one level, it is encouraging to discover that so many of the survey respondents recognize the importance of on-going skills development and, by implication, a commitment to CPD (continuing professional development). But there are problems with this.

Inquiring minds

First, in my experience, the people who respond to surveys and find research interesting are by definition the people who have an inquiring mind and a personal commitment to development. Unfortunately, they are a small minority. More typical is a communication that I received today from a senior manager at a large, international corporation. It read: “I am personally convinced about the critical importance of our staff gathering new ideas and understanding of market trends and practices which they can apply to their work. I have been shocked to discover that there is an internal belief from other managers that this is a distraction.”

Second, there is the challenge of where to find the right information or support. On one level, we are today flooded with material and sources. But how do we identify what is worth reading? How do we assimilate so much and make sense of its meaning and application? Individuals – and organizations – need trusted sources. They need to be able to rely on the data and information they receive being timely, accurate, thought-provoking, practical and up to date. In theory, one might hope to gain that support from professional associations, but many are not structured to deliver such dynamic content. In fact, they find it threatening because it causes many to question the validity and relevance of much of their traditional material, on which professional qualifications have been based.

So how do I get what I need?

Looking ahead, I have little doubt that the people who will flourish are those who find change interesting and are excited by the idea of adapting their skills and knowledge. They will develop their own approach to CPD, often by working collaboratively with selected delivery partners. Certainly, at IACCM we find not only an increasing hunger for CPD programs, but also that leaders in our community want to participate in defining what that CPD content should be. The digital world allows more effective engagement, as well as more creative design and access models.

So my advice? Don’t wait for your employer to develop a solution for your needs; the chances are that whatever they provide will already be outdated. Recognize instead that the high-value, highly-rewarded employees of the future will be those that engage in a voyage of self-discovery and as a result bring their organizations the new ideas and thoughts on which survival depends.

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