1 Comment

Knowledge is where the shortfall is in the workplace, and more specifically the practice of acquiring knowledge. So many professionals are very well versed in the "theatre" of modern work; highly confident, personable, politically savvy, extremely likeable, but lacking the ability to put in the hard graft to deeply engage with the domains they are tasked to operate within.

I have seen people like this give up early when things get tough. They despair that they are not "making an impact" in their work, because they haven't mastered their assigned (or chosen) subject-matter within a couple of months (or weeks)! Well, most of us aren't that brilliant, it takes time, and then more time.

I have pretty much had one career of significance – building web-based applications – and would have spent tens of thousands of hours across multiple domains to reach a level of competency that is considered adaptable to almost any domain. That allows me to transfer my skillset around pretty easily, but it took over 20 years and I'm still learning and there are still areas of technology that I know effectively nothing about.

Part of the problem here is that almost nobody looks at "modern" (or "future") work as being an evolution of what work has always been like. There is an unnecessary elevation of technology, and specifically "IT" as being the driver of this change, when it is still the underlying business or organisational objectives driving 90% of everything. The fundamental problems haven't changed, the motivations have barely changed, the actual people are even the same (especially the leaders of organisations) – many still around from pre-internet days.

If we want to prepare students for *their* futures in the workforce – and by that I mean the moment that they actually start working in a job – then the best we can do is teach them how to efficiently acquire and hold knowledge. That will never not be highly valued. Skill requirements will change over time, but skill is applied knowledge so that comes back to strengthening learning capabilities. These are markers of adaptability, which (in general) I will hire for over specificity any day.

Expand full comment