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Posts Tagged ‘skills

Looking for talents, create it yourself.

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Educate TrainI was reading recently an excellent article about youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is one of the biggest present challenges of our society. The author of the article mentions that companies are often more entitled to hire people having experience. For students just finishing their studies, it is difficult to have a first job. Companies, most of the time, want to hire people fully operational starting the first day. Is it the only and the best way solution? How many times will it take to find the rare talent?

This article makes me think about a story Luc de Brabandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity, is often telling in his speeches. An insurance company was looking to hire people having experience in the insurance industry for the sales department. As they could not find the number of qualified people needed, they hired also people having no experience in that field. After few time, the company made the statement that people who have no experience in insurance industry provided better results than the others.  How could explain we such paradox? One explanation is probably that the unqualified people were more motivated to learn, more creative as they have to proof or to reveal a talent, to take up the challenge.

Such statement has to make think business owners and managers about the following. Today, in organizations, people are an asset and the collective intelligence is a reality. With the complexity of the processes, each people are a key within the process chain. By developing competences and talents, and being aware that it is a necessity, people wants to be implicated in the processes of the organization activity. The wish to learn and to be implicate in the business, are the key of motivation. Companies that spend time to train employee have to see this time as an investment and will get more return on investment with motivated and dedicated people. By creating a process of collective intelligence, these companies can create a more sustainable and long term collaboration with the employees.

Faster changes are a trend, and people have to move with these changes, by acquiring competences, by following permanent training. Change is a constant and companies have to integrate such constant in their activities plans. We know today that diploma is not a sufficient element to have a job. Changes mean also the obsolescence of knowledge. Companies have to invest in this competences evolution and renewal. To create and sustain such dynamic, people need to have clear objectives, and should be encourage to make solutions proposals, to be creative, and to be considered as a real stakeholder, a player taking responsibilities within the organization.

Education is important, but self-made man can also develop talents and skills, they can also have brilliant professional careers. The quality of the diploma is not always a guarantee to have the best people for a job. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Changes implies different steps with new goals, new challenges. People who embrace changes have the desire to face new challenge, and to learn is an ongoing challenge.

If talents are lacking, try to develop them yourself by giving opportunities to motivated people. Today, the future resides in knowledge sharing, and if you can transmit also passion, the return on investment will certainly be higher.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 8, 2014 at 21:53

Be aware of your skills to live a passion.

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Norbert, former banker, now bus driver.

Norbert, former banker, now bus driver.

At a certain moment of our life, some of us dream to get another life, to switch to another professional life. We dream to do something totally different, something driven more by passion than by constraints. Such decision represents a major change with some consequences on our life. This is why such change happens often after a period of self-brainstorming.

Such changes we aspire are sometimes the result of a thinking process about our current and passed professional experience. All what we have learned to, all the constraints and the challenges we had to face to, our success and our failures are conditioning our future goals and our future decisions. Like on a sailing boat, we adjust our road function of the new cap we want to reach and function of the wind and streams we are meeting. In a changing environment, the need to learn on an ongoing way is obvious, not only in our own professional discipline, but also in the development of lateral competences. The more we learn, the more possibilities we offer to ourselves. Just remember Steve Jobs in his famous speech at Stanford University, explaining that learning calligraphy by passion, he saw afterwards the usage he can do of such skills, by creating fonts for Mac graphical interfaces.

I would like to relate an article I read on the website www.lemonde.fr, about a Dutch, Norbert de Kramer, who switched to another professional career, and so living an old dream. Norbert, who is now 62 years old, was formerly a banker. He started his career within ABN Amro, was credit analyst, in charge of training, and after, director of a subsidiary in Rotterdam with 40 employees. But his childhood dream was to drive a bus. When he was 55 years old, Norbert followed two weeks of training, and later took a sabbatical leave to do an internship of bus driving. When he was 59, Norbert was proposed to take new responsibilities within the bank. He declined this proposal in order to start a new professional life, to start his passion, to drive a bus. Today, Norber is free-lance drive for a bus company. He is transporting tourists, children, sport teams, and sometimes, ministers.

Some of you are wondering what could be the motivation for Norbert to switch from the job of banker to a job of bus driver. He had probably to face huge challenges within the bank, contributing to acquire and increase his competence level, giving him the possibility to conquer higher positions and face higher challenges.  What can he do now with the competences he acquired in his new job? This is precisely the question the journalist asks to Norbert, what are the common points between the banker and the driver? To that question, Norbert answers as follow: “People”.  Beside the fact to drive the bus, there is the communication side with people. The conversation he gets with them. He explains that some of them are surprised by the conversations he hold with them, and his knowledge of English and German languages.

What is interesting to underline in Norbert new life, is the use of skills in another context. Indeed, he is not a bus driver like another. With his language skills, Norbert can speak with people from different countries, and it brings something stronger in the relationship he can have with his customers. Let’s assume that if he looks for information about the destination where he drives customers, he can play also a bit the role of touristic guide.  The background he acquires in terms of lateral competences represents a real added value for his new job.

What we can learn from such experience is the following. If you want to start a new professional project, you will maximize the chances to succeed if your project is driven by passion. But as you know, to start a new project is a very courageous and difficult decision to take. By starting something new, you become a “junior” in your new market.  Beside the fact that passion gives you the strength of conviction, the use of skills you acquired in your previous experience will allow you to offer something more than your concurrent, something you customers will remember.

Another interesting point to mention is that in our changing environment, some existing jobs can be reinvented. Norber, is not a bus driver like another. With his multilingual skills, he can bring something more to the people he is driving, by giving information about the visited locations in the customer language, and it is for him an opportunity to spend more enjoyable and interesting days. In the way Norber is doing this honorable job, this job has much more value. Combining acquired lateral skills in another context is part of an innovation process.

For those who want to change of professional project, it is important to acquire skills and develop talents, to be curious and open minded. Trying new experiences allows you to open new doors to new opportunities, and to build innovative solutions. Be aware that you can value the skills you acquired in your previous experiences, and that it will allow you to live a hold dreamed passion, and reinvent it by adding your personal touch, making that you will be unique, but also authentic.

Picture from http://www.lemonde.fr

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 18, 2014 at 06:09

Education and entrepreneurship

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Education is the foundation of enterprising mind

Recently, I was chatting with people talking about the fact that entrepreneurship should be taught to youth. In our present fast moving environment, jobs security become an utopia, compared to the past, and where diploma is still useful but not necessarily a guarantee of employment. Change is a constant, and people have to change also, to move with the change. Nothing is definitively acquired.

Such circumstances make that some people are pushed to find alternatives by starting they own activity, or decide to look for new opportunities in order to move their skills and experiences forward. Such evolution, where people are driven to become more dynamic and not static, implies a dynamic mind, where you need to determine personal objectives and a related strategy. Life become a serial of projects, and the development of these projects is the result of an entrepreneurial process.

In such circumstances, it is obvious that youth has to be sensitize to the entrepreneurship, and the opportunities entrepreneurship can bring, but there are in my mind first important steps. Before to become an entrepreneur, we have to become free human being. The most important element to conquer our freedom is education. Education is the foundation of our life. The more our education will be broad, the more we will have opportunities to choose our own way, our own objectives. But education is not only the accumulation of knowledge and skills, it is also the capacity to make judgements, to develop curiosity, to develop the wish to learn, to develop an open mind. A lot of people remember the famous Steve Jobs speech at the Stanford university, where he was encouraging students to be curious, and to learn a lot of things, even we can’t know beforehand if it will be useful, but that afterwards, you can make a link between different things you learned, you can connect the “dots”. All these ingredients, combined with the wish to realize project, to reach objectives, are the basics of an enterprising mind. This is probably the most essential step before to encourage youth to entrepreneurship. The objective of an enterprising mind is not only the wish to build a business, but to build projects and to shape achievements. This achievements can be a Ph.D. Thesis, the writing of a book, or to follow theater courses and become an actor.

By developing an enterprising mind, you become the actor of your own life, where you can make your own choices, defining your objectives. The most important is to get the possibility to make choices. And this step is essential if you want to become an entrepreneur. As you know, an entrepreneur can meet failure. Experienced entrepreneurs will advice you to get alternative plans in case of failure. Education is the tool that will bring you alternative plans. The more your education will be broad, the more you will have alternative plans, not only in your business, but in your life too.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2012 at 22:43

Does uncertainty boost talent and creativity?

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If something is growing since I started my professional career 23 years ago, it is uncertainty. As each of us can see around, the world is fast moving. By looking how the world moved, we just can note that it doesn’t move on a linear way. A fundamental question we have to think about, is how can we drive our own way, our own career, if predictions become impossible?

This question, we thought about it for the first time when we are at school. At a certain time, we have to choice the studies we want to make at the university or high school. By the past, such choice was driven a bit by passion, but also by the opportunities such studies can offer. Today, how can we answer to such question when your future job probably doesn’t exist yet. For instance, did you heard from webmaster or social media 20 years ago? What answer can we give to such question today?

Fundamentally, before to be workers, we are first human being, and a strong education is the basic to develop citizenship, but also to become…the person we are. By learning languages, mathematics, philosophy, we are acquiring matters feeding our brain, developing our intelligence, and maybe making appear some talent and passion. Knowledge and talents are the key component to catch opportunities, and to build a wealthy career. This is a first step. As some of us can think, there are people who have strong education, but who are facing professional difficulties, due to difficult economical circumstances, or because there are doing a too specific job for which the demand is low. Does it mean that people are definitively lost in such circumstance, that there are front of a dark horizon?

Today, education is not something we only acquired when we were at school, but it is something we have to feed and acquire on an ongoing way, for the simple reason that in a fast moving environment, we have to move fast also. Learning has to be a natural exercise. Our brain is a muscle we have to make work too. As I mention above, all what we can learn can drive us to new opportunities, but the combination of skills can make us creative and develop new ideas in order to provide answers to new demands, to create new opportunities too. I would mention Steve Jobs who doesn’t invent the graphical interface (it was first a Xerox invention), but he was the first who perceived the potential of such technical process. The combination of skills is what Steve Jobs mention in his famous speech at the Standford University ( * ): connecting the dots. You never know all what you can do with some skill forward. You can only note it backward.

Talent and skills are certainly the most appropriate answer to face uncertainty. But what is also even most important is experiences. Each of us, we developed skills and talents by studying at school or by reading books, but also by working on several projects during our career. Each project is probably an important source of knowledge, leading to make some statements, pushing us to find solutions, to innovate and to get constant feedback of the stakeholders of the project. With such feedback, we are feeding our own knowledge base, and building a strong reference system, allowing us to create and develop more efficient solutions, to face much bigger challenges. By acquiring and developing talents, by acquiring experience, we empower our self-confidence, and we are much more prepared to face uncertainty.

Uncertainty has not to be seen in a negative way, but as a potential of opportunities. I remember few years ago when I went on holiday in France to make a bicycle trip during 10 days. Each day we started, we had no idea what we will do or see during the day. On the evening, we had wonderful images of landscape, of interesting visits and conversations with local people. This is probably one of the most beautiful holidays I had. By thinking to much in advance to scenarios, you are often disappointed by the reality.

Uncertainty is not something we can’t face. It is something that can bring us energy and motivate us to develop talents. It implies we need to have objectives and passion to reach them, to be self-confident. It is something we can be prepared, if we work on our capacity of adaptation, if we are flexible, if we decide to expand our horizon. But as mention Lynda Gratton, in her book “The shift”, we need to be “active creators” and not passive consumers. It is not forbidden to think that uncertainty is something contributing to boost talent and creativity.

Blog references: (*) http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html , (**) http://www.lyndagratton.com/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 1, 2012 at 16:48

What if I fail?

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In my previous article, I was talking about an entrepreneur I met recently who was building her first project as entrepreneur. We talked about the fact that the entrepreneurship is always a risk, and that the chances to succeed and to fail exist. The possibility to fail is probably a important reason making that some people don’t want to take the risk of entrepreneurship.

As Peter Drucker said, to become an entrepreneur, you don’t need an entrepreneur character, but character only. A character able to face risk, looking for change, and seeing change as an opportunity. But the ability to face risk is not enough, you have to manage it too. When you start a project presenting risks, have always an alternative plan, and measure the level of risk you will not go over. These two conditions will make that you will take more easily risks and be able to take appropriate actions if you don’t succeed.

The character is not only a condition making that people are scared to become entrepreneur. Failure is ofter considered as negative by people around you, and failing people have a guilty feeling. Failure has to be seen as a fact and something you can learn from. Such experience is not useless for many reasons:

  • By launching your own activity, you will have to do a lot of things and to manage things you were not used to manage. You will develop skills and maybe discover hidden talents. This talents and skills are open doors to new opportunities,
  • In an entrepreneurship project, you meet people to take advices, to contract specific expertise. You will meet new environments, you build a network, with people who bring you advice, and maybe new ideas. These new ideas or advice you acquired are feeding your knowledge and experience. You will can use them for other projects, or in other contexts.
  • By analyzing the reason of your failure, you will identify your mistakes, and to develop alternative solutions or scenarios. Such analyze make that you will be ready to restart other projects on a more appropriate way, without repeating the same mistakes,
  • Your experience of failure can make that you could be a valuable partner for future projects, build with other partners. Expertise is most of the time acquired by experience,and failure is a part of experience and contributes to bring added value,

By having this in mind, failure doesn’t mean that you are back to the start point. You are just on an new start point, with more skills, more experience, making that failure is probably not an absolute necessity, but an experience you can use as a raw material to build new and stronger projects. By do not deciding to take the risk to launch your own project, you will not fail but you will not succeed too. Remember this quote I don’t remember the author: “There is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. You are a failed entrepreneur only when you quit. Until then, you’re simply not successful yet.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 11, 2012 at 21:35

Companies will be social or not.

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Olivier Zara, author of a book about collective intelligence

Recently, I answered to an interesting question posted by somebody on LinkedIn. The question was related to the statement that businesses are inherently about people and relationship. Despite the fact that technologies allow people to perform higher performances and to communicate, it seems that there is no emphasis on the communication and the collaboration, and that there are divergences of ideas in a same organization. The question was “Should not we bring the social-factor in Business and realize the power of Enterprise 3.0?

To provide an answer to such question, it should be interesting to have a look to the evolution of the companies and the impact of the new technologies on the work processes in the organizations. In this analysis, we will see that we are referring to a range of concepts and that the combination of these concepts is essential to make each of them efficient.

The development of new technologies had a significant impact on the operational processes of organizations. It allowed people of the organizations to develop more ambitious projects, to perform sophisticated tasks and processes, to provide more added values in a shorter period of time. With the development and the integration of the technologies, we moved to a new kind of economy, based on knowledge. But investing into technology is not the only condition to ensure efficient processes and to obtain high results. There are several conditions, the basic principle of management who are more essential to succeed in a company or organization project.

  • People are key players of the organization. With the development of new technologies, people become the owners of sophisticated and complex processes. The development of the expertise in these processes needs a period of time. The return on investment has to be seen on a mid and long term basis. With this level of expertise, of complexity, each member of the organization becomes an essential stakeholder of the organization.

  • People have to subscribe to the values of the project and to have clearly assigned goals. A condition to reach the success of a project is that each member of the organization is looking to the same direction. By having the knowledge of the goals to be reached, they know exactly the usefulness of the tasks and processes they are performing. They can measure the added value they are bringing to the project, and it is a positive factor of motivation.

  • Skills and competences. Technology is a tool. Companies are investing considerable amounts in technologies, but as said early, it is the team members who are the owner of the processes, performed by the technology. The related knowledge to the technology is essential to get an efficient control on it and has to be part of the investment. You cannot reach an acceptable return on investment of your technology if you do not invest in training people.

 All the point I mentioned here are essential to build organization working on a collaborative way. Tools like CRM and other collaborative platforms take more importance in companies, and the development of Web 2.0 leads to the model of Enterprise 2.0. The development of Web 2.0 technologies and the social media are supposed to empower the communication and the collaboration between people. The technical performances of such tools are appreciable and offer a lot of possibilities, to increase the connectivity between people.

With the development of communication and collaboration tools, and the expertise development of people, we hear to talk about the concept of collective intelligence. Organizations and projects become more complex, and a range of competences are needed to lead these projects to success. But each member of the team needs to understand the contribution of his expertise, the interactions with the contribution of the other team member and the potential problems they can encounter and prevent. Team members have to maintain a transversal collaboration. Such collaboration is possible if people are convinced to be part of a project they understand and they subscribed to.

And what about the Enterprise 3.0 ? The definition of Enterprise 3.0 is not very clear, but we trend to a model where companies will be, as far as I understood, “dematerialized”, more virtual. People will work from different locations, from home office. All what can be outsourced will be. In such model, collaborative tools and social media platform usage will be much more important. But it will imply also that people will be and have to be more autonomous, and the key role they are playing will be more important for the organization. This model is an evolution or an upgrade of the previous one, and in some case, the previous one does not work, there is a lot of chance that the new one will not work too. A key component to make work such organization is motivation. We are coming back to the 3 fundamental questions: What, how and why. People know what they have to do, how they will do it, but the most important one is why they have to do it. In other word, what is the goal of the project. With such answer, they can measure their own contribution and added value they bring to the project, and it represents an appreciable feedback in term of career and personal development. All the conditions I mentioned here above become more and more essential as the level of expertise is increasing, as the key role of each people become more important.

There is a clear answer to the asked question. Yes, business is inherently about people and relationship. They have to be driven by the same values the project is based on, and their contributions have to be recognized by the management. The level of their competences will increase their autonomy and their possibilities to make other choices and to move to other projects if they are not satisfied. And in such circumstances, the tension between stakeholders and instability within the organization can increase. The question is to know if companies will be “social” or not, or will we move back to a more traditional model of enterprise.  Wait and see.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 4, 2011 at 19:34

Education as a passion

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The passion to learn contributes to the human being development.

Education is an important pillar of our society, in term of social, economical and cultural development. Education is the basic tool allowing everybody to be first a human being, to develop himself, to have a job and to be integrated in a society where he can share, communicate with other people. But a statement needs to be done: everybody is not equal in term of education, and some people are not succeeding very well in their studies. The chance for these people to be integrated in the society and to live in harmony is lower.

There are many reasons why some people does not succeed in their studies, in their life. There is a first reason which is a social reason. Children who are living in a family where the parents have a low education level, will face more difficulties to acquire a higher education level than their parents. But it does not mean necessarily that they cannot succeed in their education. There is probably a question of temper. The ones will show more will and perseverance to succeed, the others will be quickly discouraged. Here is the need to have a performant education system, where teachers can play an important social role, contributing to help everybody to meet success in the education.

Let us have a look on the needed ingredients to build a strong educational system. A first condition is to have passionated teachers. As in many jobs, the passion is a key factor of success. The passion brings the motivation to increase your skills and capabilities in areas of interests, and leads you to give the best of what you can do. The passion is something you can transmit, you convince the other because you are convinced yourself. In education matter, passion is something you have to transmit. Some teachers show lack of passion, which is not an example to motivate children or students. The learning process needs efforts, where we have to cross over difficulties, and students have to be motivated to cross over difficulties, to face challenges. Challenges are what we have to face during all our life, and what make us more self-confident. Education has also to prepare the children to face this.

Another important condition to motivate students and to bring them to success in their educational process, are the educational skills of teachers. It is important to be able to explain things on different ways with examples. Some teachers are able to explain complex matters by making comparisons with simple concepts, with concrete things, allowing the students to visualize more easily the teached matters, the explained concepts. But it is also important to explain what is the utility to study matters. What I am saying here, is not that there are useful and useless things to learn. It is not a fact but a wrong perception the children have, and they are wondering why they have to learn things which seem to be useless. They are judging it as useless, because they don’t perceive the goal of learning it. I will take the example of mathematics. I remember teachers explaining theorems, formulas, hypotheses, and logical developments. But at that time, I had the feeling that the only goal to learn these things was to get enough points at the end of the year, to succeed in the examinations, and to have a qualification. I had the chance to have later a professor in the university who was illustrating mathematical concepts or equations with concrete examples. It was much more easy to understand theoretical concepts with practical examples.

Knowledge is the raw material of intellectual and social development. All what we are learning at school, in mathematical, physical, chemical sciences, literature or history, are the basic components to understand or to build more complex concepts or knowledge. But it is also important to show the brought added value of the combination of skills, of disciplines. We can see today new jobs which were not existing some years ago, but which are only a combination of existing jobs and skills. Let us take the example of somebody who is a qualified translator and who has passions of IT and can make programs. By combining two skills sets, he can create translation programs or to work in the online translation industry. The added value of such combination will be a motivation to learn and to develop other skills. For instance, in our globalized world, a stylist who want to present creations in foreign countries like Italy or United Kingdom, could be find more motivation to learn languages, because she has a concrete reason, a concrete motivation to learn it.

As I mention before, education goal is first to become a human being, to build our personal development, to become first the actor of our own life. The role of the education system is also to help children to develop interest areas and to help him to build their own life. The development of interest and curiosity will contribute to develop motivation, and drive people to passion. Passion is an essential component of self-development. Passion leads people to move their limits forward, to encourage them to face new challenges. Passion is also something teachers have to transmit. And to transmit passion, I am coming back to the first point I presented here, to have passionate teachers communicating the passion to learn.As in many areas, passion is a key factor, and the passion to learn can lead you to unlimited new horizons. Let us give the key of passion to learn to the new generations, giving them the opportunities to conquer their freedom.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 24, 2011 at 20:48