Don’t underestimate the value of external stimuli

I was recently invited to be a panel member for the Australian Information Industry Association Queensland Summit event – this event invited guests to share their opinion on what was blocking ICT investment and growth in Queensland.  It had a line up of key industry professionals who discussed how Queensland compared to other states and explored the skills required for future growth of the ICT economy in Queensland.

Now those of you who know me are probably laughing or scratching their heads right now wondering what I had to offer this summit. Don’t worry I was asking myself the same thing and believe me I had many “OMG what was I thinking” moments in the lead up to this event.  I think I had about three melt downs when I read the panel brief not to mention the qualifications of the highly skilled and qualified men sharing the panel with me.

Once I pulled myself together and let go of my fears, (after all I am stepping into the public speaking and consulting world to expose myself to other industries and engage a different audience to increase my own skills) I was able to identify the role I would play.

I was the ‘external stimuli-the point of difference’ and my role was to challenge the status quo, to nudge and disrupt old school thinking, to be the seed planter, by offering insight to encourage new ways of thinking.

Stimuli and response can be likened to the animal world, and simply explained as ‘why we do what we do’ or cause and effect.  If an animal’s environment remains the same, they will carry on and do what they have always done.  However, if an animal’s environment is disrupted by land clearing or weather events (external stimuli) they will respond and react differently and take a different cause of action.

Throughout the panel discussion I created the external stimuli the point of difference. I was the outsider with limited knowledge of the ICT industry, I was not heavily invested in the industry or a stakeholder. I had only ever been a consumer of the offerings of this industry.

Here is an example that comes to mind from the panel discussion around the skills shortage and talent required to sustain the ICT industry into the future.  We heard from Marek Kowalkeiwicz with the well evidenced academia lens and from Vu Tran Co-Founder GO1 micro-credential lens.  I brought my own lens to challenge the status quo of qualifications required. I have no formal University qualifications; I have worked in a large government organisation that has invested heavily in me with internal qualifications. I have performed five very different job roles within a 22 year career. Surely this has value to many organisations yet, the majority of today’s employers seek University qualifications as an essential criterion.  Are organisations missing out on untapped talent and skills that come with real life work experience?

Please don’t get me wrong I am not dismissing the need for formal qualification and technical requirements for certain roles.  It is about opening our minds to consider where else or who else we can find with talent and skills that meet the company’s needs, or more importantly looking within your own organisations to see what ‘other’ skills your people have.

If you run your meetings or conferences with the same core group of people who are surrounded by the same stimuli – then the cause and effect will be the same.

Does this resonate with you, having you fallen trap too engaging and seeking input from like minded people?

Make the change for your next event……who will be your external stimuli to nudge and provoke different ways of thinking and operating.DSC_0936

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