The Superpowers of a New Year

I just hung up the phone with a good friend, and through the course of our conversation, he referred, more than once, to how much he wishes it was next year already.  This is not the only conversation I’ve had where similar comments about turning this year’s page and moving on to a new one were made. It’s apparent that, for many people, the end of 2019 is not getting here fast enough.

Truth be told, we often look forth marquee events, or wait for a proverbial beginning to hit that imaginary re-start button in our lives and get going. We trust the power of such event will trigger actions in us that sort of help validate we are on the right path and in pursue of doing the right thing. The turn of the year is one of those events that gives us an opportunity to start anew.  Full of optimism, we believe that with the changing in calendar everything else will be different. In sum, we attribute Superhero Powers to the year’s end. Powers that can change the energy around us, creating positive influence and favorable planetary alignment.  But in reality, it’s simply the ordinary passing of a day. So, how come we place such importance and let it be so determinant in our possibilities?

I, not unlike others, also think the year-end has special powers; the power prompting us to reflect and #learn from the year that will soon come to pass. As we look into and prepare for #2020, we have an opportunity to allow the turn of the year to energize us into starting strong our personal and professional lives. Putting the focus on the actions that will improve our chances for success and be #agile in the year uptake.

So, what are the #2020 superpowers, fueled by the learnings from #2019? Below our take on the top five insights.

1. Unlearn fast to Learn faster

Darwin said it first: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” The ability to change in accordance to how the world is changing will determine how successful we will be.  Innovating and coming up with ways to quickly adapt to changes and remain competitive is key in a world where pivoting is a constant challenge. Innovation requires learning agility which in turns requires us to shift our paradigms. In order to innovate, one must first unlearn some of what we know; un-programmed our minds, and “forget” what is now useless. Only then would the emergence of innovation be possible, and a new learning journey can begin.

2. Recycle/Repurpose the good

Not everything that is innovative is new. In fact, creativity is also to be able to salvage the nuggets of goods from the past and apply them to the present and the future. The secret is to identify ways in which to repurpose or recycle those valuable parts. Wars have been the source of many inventions, some of which evolved overtime to serve new purposes from what they originally were intended for. A great example of this is Kleenex, which emerged from repurposed surgical dressing during the war. Looking forward to 2020, demand for competitiveness and differentiation will continue to challenge businesses. Let’s do a quick analysis of what is working and worth keeping, and build on those assets and learnings. Without a doubt, 2020 will call for creative ways to reutilize usable ideas as another way to continue innovating. Recycling is good and not just for the environment.

3.  Nurture the Basics

Businesses have been focused on update to the latest technologies and skills and in that intent, might have neglected the basics. In a recent article published by LinkedIn we discovered what were the top subjects that were “learned” in 2019. This article is confirmed in some of my client’s “Discovery” engagement phase, were we uncovered a gap in fundamental skills such as communication and storytelling, or something as basic as displaying the right attitude. If that article is any indication, we will need to re-focus on essential skills development again.  We dedicate much time to learning new skills and technologies, yet have failed to keep elementary knowledge which is often as crucial to being successful as new ones.  We must find the balance between future business critical skills and fundamental business-sense abilities, and focus on nurturing both, as they are equally important for success. I dare to argue that those basic skills are present in the foundation of any healthy business practice, and is in this foundation where the future success will grow in the new decade.

4. Capitalize on other’s experiences

There have been many articles and opinion blogs written on Agile implementations noting that Agile has not succeeded or rendered the expected results. Many of those less than desired results are due to the fact that, for the most part, they are copies of someone else’s model, with the most prominent example being implementations that imitates the Spotify model case. Agile is a framework that works when it is “applied” to each case and as such producing a outcome. It is the approach and the principles that should be used to come up with your own blueprint to follow. To fully benefit from it, we should learn and become proficient on the mindset and the philosophy. Start from there and build our own roadmap to success. The right solution is the one that is designed to work for us. So, study what others have done and extract the learnings from their experiences to create your own: Apply the methodology, contextualize it to your environment so you can customize your design.

5. Update & Upgrade the Learning Offerings

In the world we live in – the VUCA world – change is a constant, fast, and unyielding. On one side, there are businesses in continual pursuit of new skills and talents required to address distinctive business challenges. On the other, there are business schools having to constantly reinvent the way in which they offer relevant course material to match the demand of the market for skills and talent development. The gap between the two is significant. Business degrees required long engagements which is time consuming. This implies they may miss new trends as the material being taught could become outdated by the time it is delivered, or it may be lacking key relevant content. This challenge to stay current has triggered an increased from  top Universities such as Harvard, Columbia and MIT, among others, to offer short courses. These are focused on single topics as an alternative to long term degrees, in an attempt to close the gap and have a match to the demand of the market. In 2020, short, single-topic, and customized courses and training applied to the business context will be increasingly required. The future of business calls for the development of skills and talent in a more agile, on-demand way.

So, the true superpower of the new year is making definitely obvious the need to create relevant, focused and agile learning journeys. In the new decade learning should be a constant practice, where we all seek, recycle and purge knowledge as needed. And So, for the new #2020, be laser focus on learning and strive to achieve, no pun intended, your super-powerful#2020 vision.

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