This is a great question posed to me ahead of the launch of Jolt’s Business Education Steering Committee panel I’m speaking on.

I asked on Twitter and LinkedIn for people’s thoughts, and got over 30 amazing responses.

I read through all of the comments and put them into categories (some had multiple points and therefore scored in multiple categories). I anticipated that the biggest response would be a version of “helping people”, which it was. Out of 50 points I coded, 25 of them included answers such as making a difference or change, helping people and getting to their potential.

50% of responses were about being passionate to help people

The next biggest category was when people just “get” something, those lightbulb moments. It won’t surprise you that this is my biggest driver too, as it’s what I named my company.

16% of responses were passionate about the lightbulb moment

There were obviously lots of other comments, which included 8% about making work and the world a better place, 4% on developing great content, 4% on organisations getting the best from people and 4% on problem solving.

The remaining 14%, at 2% each, I coded as: community; work at scale; disruption/challenge; data; don’t create from scratch; curiosity; and doing my work well.

And here it is in graph form:

You might have coded this differently, but this was my take on it.

Academic education – preparation for life?

All of the replies were lovely and made good points. The Jolt panel discussion is about how corporate training can influence academic education. Some of the questions we are going to debate include:

  • How well did your education prepare for you for the business world?
  • What would you change in how business education is currently done?
  • How do you see the role of L&D in helping bridge the gaps we have surfaced?

All of these are worthy of other social media discussions and blog posts, but they also frame what I pick out below:

Christine Locher: “Helping create opportunities for people no matter where they are in life (particularly when the first round of education wasn’t the best of experiences or fit).”

This is particularly relevant to the panel conversation. I studied journalism at 19, and that did cover some about freelance working, but not a great deal and certainly not the business part of it, just the journalism element.

I didn’t do a degree after A levels, I couldn’t decide which topic. It’s only later, whilst working, that I completed an Open University degree. I’m glad I did it that way, as what I learnt was much more relevant to my work now. However none of it was remotely business focused or prepared me for career development, beyond the academic focus.

And herein lies the challenge. Should university or other academic education focus on what it does best, the content, rather than preparing people for diverse working lives?

What is the job of L&D anyway?

This is the other comment to pull out, from Nick Ribeiro: “Interested by the common good of ‘helping people’. Does that mean a greater scope in what we can do in ‘Learning and Development’?

Does this mean we need to analyse the role of L&D in organisations? Is it different depending on the sector, or where L&D sits in the business? Going back to the main point of the blog, is it our passion that drives how we see our own roles?

My own passion

It’s only fair I answer the question given to me. It’s obvious my answer, it’s those ‘lightbulb moments’. I live for them. When you see, hear and feel the penny drop for someone, whether it’s a tiny technical issue, something that saves them time, or a shift in their approach and attitude, that’s when you know you have done good.

The other answers and categories here all resonated with me. As I get older and see more of my place and influence in the world, knowing about helping people to make themselves, their teams, work and the world a better place becomes increasingly important as an underlying theme.

The focus on problem solving, developing great content, training and, of course, not creating everything from scratch, are all important elements of making us great professionals in our field.

Two other categories that jumped out, was curiosity, courtesy of Valary Oleinik, and community, thanks to Jayne Davids. Without either of these I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

What are your thoughts on the questions I’ve posed here? And if you didn’t get to answer on social media before I wrote this post, you still can, or you can comment below.

And here are all the responses I coded, thank you everyone!

On LinkedIn:

And on Twitter:


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