Lifelong Learning for the Cubicle Warrior

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Feb 28

Over at Small Business Boomers, Jim Norton talks about how it is necessary to Keep Learning, Keep Working.

It’s a good post and one that has a tremendous amount of relevance for today’s workforce — essentially, learn or be unemployed. I work in technology and I can tell you that skills — especially programming skills — constantly change. How many of us still program in COBOL?

So what is a Cubicle Warrior to go out and learn? I don’t think it is the next shiny thing that happens to come along. Because shiny things are just that: shiny and don’t last. Today’s Ruby Rail will become tomorrow’s Green Goo that will become Purple Rain. Faster than you can learn the programming language.

No, I think Cubicle Warriors could do better by concentrating on learning a few other things about their work:

Understand process management. All of business delivery to a customer is a process. And whether you program that process or work that process, understanding what the steps are in the process is critical to understanding how the business works.

Understand critical financial measurements. Does your company measure itself on ROI or NIE or EPS? Why? What happens when your company doesn’t make those numbers or blows the top of the projection? Understanding your company measurements will tell you management behavior when the numbers are made…or not.

Understand the “value proposition.” You know…what makes your company unique to customers. If it is “service,” what about the service you provide is so much better than someone else? If it is product, what is unique about your product that is so much better than someone else’s product? The value proposition defines your strength and we all need to improve upon our strengths in the marketplace.

Understand your management team. People are very different and your management team will determine your score in the game of business. Whether you are in or out, what the pay raise will be or not, whether the bonus is paid or not. Your management team needs to be understood because they will be understanding you; correct or not. It would be a smart move to help them understand you in the right way.

Learn for life. Not for shiny, transparent, soon-to-be-gone things.