Saturday, 9 June 2018

Generally Curious

Yesterday, I downloaded Don Taylor's (@DonaldHTaylor) Global Sentiment Survey 2018 report, the results of his annual survey based around one single question, "What do you think will be hot in L&D next year?". It was really interesting to see the "What will be hot?" trends rising, falling or lingering in the rankings over the last four years, with #AI (Artificial Intelligence) being the fastest riser from previous years.

This didn't come as a great surprise to me and, the more I read through the report, the less surprised I was by the rest of the general findings. And I got to wondering why that might be.

The answer seemed to lie in the fact that I keep my eyes open and my ears attuned to what's going on in Learning and Development, Learning Technologies, HR and business, partly because that's my professional arena, but it's also because I am genuinely interested in, and want to know more about this stuff for myself as much as for any current or future clients.

And I'm nosy! But I'm a nosy Generalist. Not just in work, but in life. My 'strapline' in my social media and professional profiles, and indeed, in the title of this blog, is 'I know a little about a lot and a lot about very little'. It's become my Personal Brand. And it reflects my curiosity, my inquisitiveness, my need to maintain and update a personal knowledge bank to enable me to function as a contributing member of the human race, as much as in my professional arena. I read; I watch and listen to the News; I listen to podcasts when I can, I talk to colleagues, friends, acquaintances in social media and in my face-to-face social and professional networks.

So, I wasn't overly surprised about AI being such a high flyer in Don's report, because I've been paying attention. People I follow - in the L&D, HR and Tech arena, but also in the 'real world', the Press, broadcasters, social media, general population and my friends are also seemingly discussing the opportunities and threats of automation and artificial intelligence. I got an Amazon Echo, precisely because I wanted to understand it's capabilities and relevance for both my own professional and personal knowledge.  (So far, it's made shopping easier and it's good source of music and, in my view, it may be artificial, but it ain't yet intelligent!). Now, if someone were to ask me about AI, at least I have an informed opinion. At least I can enter into a discussion about it from a reasonably well-informed position and we can have a good chat about it. Or I can connect them to other people in my network who have more specialist knowledge and experience than I.

And this goes to the heart of my thinking, and my question to you - Are you a Generalist or a Specialist? Do you Look Up from your own safe, 'specialist' position at work or in life, peer over the top of your life/work silo and sniff the air around you? Do you know what's going on in 'the real world'? And are you able to translate that back and connect it into your own life & work and that of others around you? Because nowadays, we need to be able to do just that.

We need to be nosy, inquisitive, curious, interested (and interesting), because we live in interesting times - dynamic, fast-changing, inter-connected, scary times. We need to have the skills to be able to challenge received information, to not accept things at face value, to probe, to explore. We need to build the resilience, attitude and skills that will enable us to flex, adapt, change direction, and/or alter our very behaviours. Again. And again. 

I see many nowadays with a hardening narrowness of view, no peripheral vision, an inability to connect the apparently unconnected, lacking the skills to recognise the impacts of one thing on another and who, consequently, are unable to see and prepare for what may lie ahead. I see it in both my professional and my personal life. And it worries me.

The world is changing. Life is changing. Work is changing. #LookUp!

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