Skill set ownership

The last post on knowledge or rate of learning links here which is a post by Eric Sink talking about several things, one of which is taking responsibility for your own skill set. I posted about that a while ago in a book review.

This was exactly the reason I left my last permie job 11 years ago – they weren’t prepared to invest enough in my skill set. Becoming self employed has enabled me to invest as much as I like/can afford.

My business model is pretty simple – I learn some stuff and then resell that knowledge many times as consultancy to clients (whilst learning even more – handy).

I would say that in my experience mainstream software devs are more switched on to personal skill set responsibility than many Excel folks. I suspect that is because Excel is usually a secondary skill to some business profession. And that is probably where they focus their investments. The number of times I have heard ‘they havent sent me on the Excel course for that yet’, anyone else get that?

Of course a great way for those Excel folks to pick up some new skills would be to attend the forthcoming Excel conf, but I wouldn’t be so crass as to push that (much ;-))(bookings here…). Many trainers that I have spoken to have talked of the challenge of connecting with Excel users who want to improve, and then of convincing them of the value of training.

At Eusprig last year Kath McGuire talked about saving the resident Excel ‘expert’ half a day a month by showing them how to use Edit Replace in 10 minutes. My experience has always been that training delegates, once you manage to get them on a course, really see the value. But as Rob pointed out in an earlier comment, getting orgs to invest in individuals can be hard.

So, do you take personal responsibility for your skill set? (would you say no if you didn’t?) Do you think many people don’t? and should they?



4 Responses to “Skill set ownership”

  1. Ross Says:

    Maybe, and this is just an “as I type idea”*, but it’s that Excel is too close to the business – people just expect you to be able to “do Excel”. Talk to people about servers and thick/thin clients, they think your from another planet, but if someone asks you to build a spread sheet model, they can’t perceive the difference between a bit of rubbish and something decent?
    People just don’t see the need for Excel Training, not in the same way as “popper” computer languages.
    Having said that I would recon that “people” – bosses, would understand, which it to say relate to/find relevant, courses from say EUSPRIG Modelling Systems Auditing Best Practices Seminar. What I mean is this suggests that the focus in on some professional skill (which is not Excel). So Excel User Conference, could be called, Advanced Business and Cross Plate Integration Developer Symposium. Which might make you boss see it is a light of you “core” profession. Maybe if I were a Tax guy, I would ask my boss if I could go to the Desktop Modelling for Financial Workers Conference.

    I’ve not really made my point very well here, but hopeful you can see what I mean, people don’t perceive Excel in the same way as other things, that makes it hard to get training for it (I guess this goes for other products too?)

    *I’m Trade Marking this (AITI)

  2. Simon Says:

    Interesting point Ross
    More of a task based/business use focus, good idea.
    I’m on to it!


  3. Lord Says:

    In truth, skills are obsolete by the time they are learned, so learning skills is a matter of learning what might possibly be of use in the future, most of which won’t, so the best learning is learning about what is possible and how to apply it rather than details. For that reason, domain knowledge is often more valuable than details once you have passed the basics.

  4. sam Says:

    “domain knowledge is often more valuable than details once you have passed the basics”

    On the same note learning “programming techniques” is more useful than the syntax of a programming language…


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