I think that every profession has it's "important questions"--the big questions that start to drive us in new directions, that ask us to reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it. What are the questions that keep us up at night?
For me, I'm thinking about the "big" questions when it comes to career and professional development. What do we need to be talking about? What are the ideas, trends, etc. that seem most pressing to work on and work out?
Here are some that I think are important:
- One third of us are currently self-employed. Some have called it "The New Industrial Revolution." This is something I wrote about a few years ago and I see the trend continuing. How does this impact the kinds of professional and career development we do with ourselves? How do we keep ourselves current in an economy where we can't rely on a company to pay for or drive our development? And if much of learning is social, how do we develop if we are a nation of freelancers? How do we learn from each other? How do we create "freelance" learning communities?
- Even for those of us who are employed by corporations, evidence suggests that training and professional development are not high on the list of priorities for many companies. (See here, here and here for more on this). Again, what does this mean for ongoing career management and professional development? How do we decide what skills to develop? Who pays for it? How do we keep learning?
- As technology continues to change the nature and availability of work, what does this mean for our careers? If we follow the natural evolution of technology, we can see that more jobs will be eliminated and those jobs that remain will change substantially. It's conceivable that jobs as we know them could become obsolete for many of us. If this is true, what does it mean for us? Should we be looking at building a different kind of economy? If we do, what role does work have for us? How do we redefine work?
- A majority of US workers are disengaged from their work. I believe that workers in other countries feel similarly disillusioned. What does this mean? What, if anything, should we be doing about it?
- One of the reasons I think we're disengaged is because so many of our workplaces are dysfunctional and toxic. What can we as individuals do to start changing these dynamics? If so many of us are so unhappy, what can we do to change things?
These are some of the questions that are running around my brain. What do you think are the most important career and professional development questions for us to be talking about? What big questions about your own career keep you up at night?