May 14, 2014

Building your learning quotient

Many people equate "learning" to "being taught" something. Professionals who have been working for more than 3-4 years always expect "training" or "executive education" from their employers to build new skills and learn new things.

However I believe that being a "passenger" in one's career car is not what today's professional needs, but to be an "active driver" because the road to the future changes without warning all the time.

So what should you do as a professional to keep on learning?

Here are some thoughts

  • Read, read, read - Not just publications, websites and blogs related to your domain, but also areas that might potentially force changes in your industry/function. In today's world that means technology. 
  • Scenario Planning - Whenever you come across a new development, ask yourself "How would this impact my role? How can it impact my next role?" 
  • Volunteer - If your company is putting together a project team to explore a new business/initiative then volunteer to be part of it. Don't bother if you don't know much - the more out of your comfort area it is, the better. 
  • Social Media - many people think social media is all about cat pictures and photos of what you had for dinner. But a smart and judicious use of social media enables you to have conversations with the experts. Here's a case in point
  • Enroll in MOOCs - Now you can learn from the best professors in the best universities in any area. Want to learn Design Thinking from professors in Stanford's That's possible - for free!
  • Build meta-skills: There are certain skills that apply accross roles - like making High Quality Decisions, Influencing Skills, Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence. Building these would positively impact your career irrespective of your role.