Unless you have endless spare time which, let's face it none of us has, it's a challenge to stay on top of your game in a digital world. We're all being bombarded with information, invites and insights every day and as you move into senior management, this only increases. Should you make time to engage with all these information sources or ignore the lot? How do you know what's useful or not and will it really be 'the next big thing'? How do you fit in knowledge building and learning around your day job?
The important thing to realise is that you're not alone. Most people struggle to stay on top of new technologies, tools, techniques, innovations, ways of working... the list goes on. Whether you're leading a small or large team, or a company for that matter, you need to stay current enough to lead your teams in the right direction. And thinking ahead to your next role, whatever that may be, your personal development is important.
So, what can we do to maximise our learning and knowledge building? I've collated the following to help us all develop and stay current in our very fast-paced and exciting digital world.
It's a challenge to stay on top of your game in a digital world. How do you know what's useful or not and will it really be 'the next big thing'? How do you fit in knowledge building and learning around your day job?
Surround yourself with a small network of trusted people that you can meet on a regular basis. Find out what they're doing (or not) and learn from them. Bounce ideas off each other. Take comfort in people facing similar challenges to you! The benefits of this kind of group are invaluable (and I speak from experience).
Consider doing a job swap with someone (and their team) in another organisation – see what you can learn from how they're doing things or how they've overcome challenges.
Keep your hand in delivery – in management you can become removed from what's happening on the ground so it's good to remind yourself. Pick a pet project and get into the detail of it.
See what your team is talking about through Slack or other conversational channels. There will be a wealth of knowledge there about the potential next big thing.
Be open to who you should talk to. You never know what you'll learn from a potential supplier so take a few meetings that you might not normally take. Tell them they've only got 15 mins and that they need to talk about the product or solution in detail (i.e. they're not allowed to sell to you).
Go to events that are slightly outside the sphere of your role or industry – you'll often learn from talking to other people or from hearing about how other people are working, using technology and dealing with organisational challenges.
Run internal events and ask your team to bring in external people to talk about something they're passionate about in digital
Don't treat conferences as a source of great untapped new knowledge. Instead look on them as rewards for your team – they're unlikely to learn anything revolutionary from the conference content itself but will come back enthused and energised. And they'll also learn from the people they speak to there. Encourage them to share their learnings with you and the team.
How exciting, let's get started