By combining my passion for sports and my degree in economics, I found myself pursuing a career in learning and development with adidas on their retail training team. I transferred to the east coast of the US after just three years with the three stripes and led the retail training efforts for North America. Switching coast brought me to adidas’ US headquarters in Portland, Oregon where I headed up the newly formed talent program design and facilitation team for North America. After a 5 year stint in the US, my wife and I decided to return to Europe and called Berlin home.
I believe that the dramatic changes to the way we work and our economic reality that we’ve experienced in the last 1.5 years, were long in the making, and the pandemic mostly served to accelerate these changes. Industries are changing, workforces are shifting, technology is evolving faster than ever before, and new problems require new solutions. Covid-19 has raised the urgency for many of these pre-existing faults with our society and economy.
The skills of tomorrow
In recent months, a lot of focus has been put on the need to upskill our workforces. No matter where you look, from Forbes and Gartner to Harvard Business Review, there’s a long list of new skills that are expected from us as we come out of this pandemic. These new skills can mostly be categorized into three main categories:
- Creative and collaborative problem-solving
- Remaining resilient in a fast-changing environment by managing one’s self
- Thriving in a hybrid work environment and thinking sustainably
At The DO, we’ve launched Upskill, a series of hands-on online courses to provide access to such new and evolving skills as well as enable action and impact well beyond theoretic learning. The courses combine true learning and real-life application over the course of 6 weeks with facilitated live sessions, curated content from world-renowned experts, peer action coaching, and self-paced learning.
In my experience, I’ve learned that there are two main reasons that upskilling can fail: a lack of motivation and a lack of application. We felt it necessary to directly address both of these with Upskill. Firstly, we tackle the motivation issue by working on a real-world problem that the learners are facing or have faced in the past. Secondly, as our name suggests, we have quite the bias for DOing – for taking action. All participants are quickly taught how to apply their learnings in their daily lives.
The science behind learning a skill
When we learn a new skill or improve an old one, something really amazing happens. Our brains reward us instantly. We get chemical high-fives (dopamine surges) and gain a boost in confidence (serotonin surges) when we accomplish something that is challenging. Both these effects, and a whole lot more of course, increase the likelihood of improved motivation and performance. With that, we are starting a productive upward spiral because motivation drives performance and performance in turn increases motivation.
For us at The DO, it is most important that what we build really works and we know learning works best when new skills are being applied and impact is created. Our recipe is: Combine insights and inspiration from world-class experts with the knowledge and proficiency of our facilitators, the opportunity to learn from fellow learners as well as on your own, and pursue practical application at every step of our 6 week learning journey.
When building Upskill, I’m always reminded of the saying: Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day, teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime. With Upskill, we aim to provide both: a specific skill during your course (the fish) and The DO Method (the skill of fishing) that can be applied to any kind of problem in the future.