At RedThread, we love our data, but we know that what you remember is stories. That’s why we and Chris Pirie of the Learning Futures Group started this new workplace podcast, where we plan to hear from thinkers, writers, leaders, and practitioners to tell their stories about what works in the workplace, what they’ve learned, and what they hope to see in the future. We hope you find it inspirational, motivational, a touch irreverent—and fun!
In this, our opening Season, we're posing the question: 'Why Skills?' It seems like everywhere we look, people are talking about skills: Upskilling. Reskilling. Skill gaps. Skills data. In short, there seems to be a skills obsession. So we talk to thinkers, writers, leaders, and practitioners about the current state of thinking on why and how we are managing skills at the people and organizational level.
We specifically cover topics such as:
-What are organizations’ overall purpose in focusing on skills, both now and in the future? What are they actually doing, and what is their aspiration?
- How are organizations identifying, quantifying, and communicating about skills?
- How are employees being involved in the identification, validation, and upkeep of skills? To what extent do employees “own” skills?
- What are the different roles of technology in understanding, quantifying, and maintaining skills?
We hope you enjoy what we found on our probe into our first set of Workplace Stories: The Skills Obsession.
The Skills Obsession: The Realities of Building a Tech-Enabled Skills Framework w/Madhura Chakrabarti of Syngenta
Dr Madhura Chakrabarti is one of our favorite HR thinkers and doers, so we jumped at the chance to hear of the genuinely pioneering work she’s doing for the 29,000 people who work for her employer Syngenta, a leading Swiss-headquartered science-based agtech company that helps millions of farmers round the world grow safe and nutritious food, while taking care of the planet. Despite COVID, in early December Madhura and her small L&D team launched an innovative cross-company skills framework supported by a new learning platform implementation. This episode is a great chance to hear about the real practical challenges of creating such a framework and how hard it can be to find the right partner to help, as well as the importance of people analytics in general: you’re really going to hear from the HR data and skills coal face here. Making this experience even better: Madhura’s charm, professionalism and fierce intellect. Truly, some great Workplace Stories this week!
The Skills Obsession: The Price of Skills Debt w/Matthew Daniel of Guild Education
“When software releases went from Microsoft releasing once every other year to releasing 16 times a week, you know, like all that started to happen; our ability to keep up with the world around us really started to decline.” Whatever else he is (and he is many good things), Guild Education’s Matthew Daniel is genuinely passionate about skills. Scrub that: he’s agonized about them—and he’s even more agonized about the trouble we’re storing up for ourselves as a society around them. As we find out in our hour together, he fears we’re wasting a lot of time and missing a lot of opportunity chasing the wrong metrics about them, ignoring vast swathes of the ones our workforces (especially our frontline teams) have. But his agony does lead to positivity, and we think you’ll agree with him when he says the original purpose that got so many of us into L&D will help us win through.
The Skills Obsession: Designing the Skills Future w/Lisa Kay Solomon of the Stanford d.school
“What I introduce [my students] to are the kinds of skills that allow them to navigate ambiguity.” If that seems like urgently-needed capability you or your team to have you’re in luck, as you’re about to find out a whole lot more about why you’d need such a thing… and why you won’t find it, alas, in today’s conventional curriculum (including corporate L&D). In the first full episode of our new RedThread podcast—our deep dive into what we’re calling capitalism’s focus on ‘The Skills Obsession’—we meet passionate educator, innovator and bestselling author Lisa Kay Solomon. Designer in Residence at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (‘the d.school’) at Stanford University, Lisa presents in her dialog with Stacia, Dani and Chris something of a masterclass in what thinking about the future actually needs to consist of—and how that feeds into her conviction that, “learning is the currency of possibility.”
The Skills Obsession: Opening Arguments
This episode sets the tone for this season, with podcast hosts Stacia Garr, Dani Johnson, and Chris Pirie discussing why skills are so important now, how leaders should think about using them, and the challenges facing us all as we adapt to the future of work.