Increasing skills through professional development and training–in any format–is an important but not urgent activity. I remember from my corporate days how we would plan for it at our annual review. But actually scheduling it was different. There never seemed to be a good time to take “off,” to be away from the office. There were too many, uh, urgent matters. Now, this was before smartphones and before working from home was mainstream so maybe that sense of needing to be in the office isn’t a barrier to attending training.
But I still feel for some people out there, whether in corporate, microbusiness owners, or solo service providers, they’re finding it challenging to juggle it all. And increasing skills can seem like a luxury.
I’m a strong proponent of continuing education. (I get that from my mom, I think.) When I find appealing opportunities to expand my knowledge and increase my skills, those activities do become a priority. The downside is when the training doesn’t directly align with revenue-generating activity. A “mistake” I have made. (Mom would say it’s never a mistake to learn.)
In 2015, I took an online course from the University of Virginia “Foundations of Business Strategy,” thinking I would complete a certification in that area. But what I found was most of the frameworks (such as Porter’s 5 Forces) were very hard to apply to (and sell to!) the smaller small business market of privately held companies–especially when performed with the rigor intended. It’s just not a viable service offering in its natural state. This is a perfect example of how challenging Quadrant 2 can be with respect to increasing skills. It could be argued that some learning is actually Quadrant 4. I suppose it is a matter of perspective–and what the litmus test is for value.
What do you think? Is any learning a value-add? Do we need to be more selective with our time investment with respect to professional development? When training is clearly valuable, what makes it so hard to actually GO?