That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. Sound familiar?
In my role as an Agile coach and mentor I often find myself in the position where I am asked to support recruitment and help out with interviewing potential new people with the right skills and mind-set to support an Agile organisation.
I was speaking about this with some friends of mine that – thanks to a recent round of funding – are now on the hunt to grow their head count and recruit talent. We were sat in the Electric Diner in Notting Hill and after the third cappuccino conversation was becoming animated:
“What is the one skill or attribute we want to select for in our recruitment, Kev?”
“Easy, they have to be a fast learner.”
We work in an industry that selects for specialist skills. Through an Agile lens we may lean more towards a generalised specialist but we still do select for specialism. Whether it is Coder, UX Designer or Product Owner we want people who are top of their game and bring to the table a specialist insight born of raw talent and honed by an obsessive fascination in the field of their choice.
But, there is one talent that all must share, the number one skill I look for in an individual when I am given the privilege of selecting my co workers.
They have to be a fast learner; and frankly, so do we!
In knowledge work we are valued for our skills and experience. Rightly so, the contribution we bring to an enterprise large or small depends on our ability to contribute value. The fast paced volatility of our industry and associated disruptive technology does, however, provide a singular challenge, that is both our skills and experience go out of date at startling rate
Your industry experience has an increasingly short shelf life.
What happens when we need to pivot our business model or absorb a new technology framework to meet the evolving needs of our product needs of our product? We have to react quickly and appropriately to change. This requires we learn quickly, absorb new information and apply new knowledge to the benefit our venture or project.
Fast paced learning is a perishable skill, a skill that requires a certain amount of personal discipline to maintain. If you’re fortunate your current role will provide you with all the mental exercise you need to hone your cerebral skills, if not here are some suggested techniques to keep you in the game:
My Top Tips
- Learn how to Google like a pro.
- Learn its OK to forget unimportant information.
- Learn lateral thinking techniques and focus on the connections not the facts.
- Learn how to use Evernote like a pro and tag comprehensively.
- Learn how to speed-read. Get your eyesight tested and invest in noise reduction headphones.
- Learn how to teach, it will improve your own learning skills.
- Learn how to outsource time-consuming background research.
- Learn how to be a Pomodoro ninja. Time box your learning and knowledge acquisition.
Do try this at home
Learn something you don’t yet know and use it to deliver an outcome of value, max time allowed 24hrs. The rules are it must be a demonstrable skill or new piece of information that will deliver a direct benefit to yourself or others. Then you must follow through with a practical application of tis skill all within the 24hr time frame.
If you are struggling for inspiration try this list from Lifehacker:
From the Web
- Wikipedia ‘Learning’
- Huffington Post : 23 Hacks To Learn Anything Faster And Better
- Forbes : Learning To Learn Faster: The One Superpower Everyone Needs
- BBC : Want to learn quicker? Use your body
- Scott H Young : A Brief Guide to Learning Faster (and Better)
- OEDb : Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better
- Business Insider : We Should Stop Telling Entrepreneurs To ‘Fail Fast’
- Forbes : Why Silicon Valley’s ‘Fail Fast’ Mantra Is Just Hype