A Human Approach to Reskilling in the Age of AI

A Human Approach to Reskilling in the Age of AI

Investing in learning agility and core capabilities is as important for the individual worker as it is for the decision-making executive. Thinking openly can get us there.

The age of AI is upon us. Emerging technologies give humans some relief from routine tasks and allow us to get back to the creative, adaptable creatures many of us prefer being.

So a shift to developing human skills in the workplace should be a critical focus for organizations. In this part of my series on learning agility, we’ll take a look at some reasons for a sense of urgency over reskilling our workforce and reconnecting to our humanness.

The clock is ticking

If you don’t believe AI conversations affect you, then I suggest reviewing this 2018 McKinsey Report on reskilling in the age of automation, which provides some interesting statistics. Here are a few applicable nuggets:

  • 62% of executives believe they need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce by 2023 due to advancing digitization
  • The US and Europe face a larger threat on reskilling than the rest of the world
  • 70% of execs in companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue state this will affect more than 25% of their employees

No matter where you fall on an organizational chart, automation (and digitalization more generally) is an important topic for you—because the need for reskilling that it introduces will most likely affect you.

But what does this reskilling conversation have to do with core capability development?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at a few statistics curated in a 2019 LinkedIn Global Talent Report.

When surveyed on the topic of soft skills core human capabilities, global companies had this to say:

  • 92% agree that they matter as much or more than “hard skills”
  • 80% said these skills are increasingly important to company success
  • Only 41% have a formal process to identify these skills

Before panicking at the thought of what these stats could mean to you or your company, let’s actually dig into these core capabilities that you already have but may need to brush up on and strengthen.

Core human capabilities

What the heck does all this have to do with learning agility, you may be asking, and why should I care?

I recommend catching up with this introduction to learning agility. There, I define learning agility as “the capacity for adapting to situations and applying knowledge from prior experience—even when you don’t know what to do […], a willingness to learn from all your experiences and then apply that knowledge to tackle new challenges in new situations.” In that piece, we also discussed reasons why characteristics associated with learning agility are among the most sought after skills on the planet today.

Too often, these skills go by the name “soft skills.” Explanations usually go something like this: “hard skills” are more like engineering- or science-based skills and, well, “non-peopley” related things. But what many call “soft skills” are really human skills—core capabilities anyone can cultivate. As leaders, we need to continue to change the narrative concerning these core capabilities (for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the distinction frequently re-entrenches a gender bias, as if skills somehow fit on a spectrum from “soft to hard.”)

For two decades, I’ve heard decision makers choose not to invest in people or leadership development because “there isn’t money in soft skills” and “there’s no way to track the ROI” on developing them. Fortunately, we’re moving out of this tragic mindset, as leaders recognize how digital transformation has reshaped how we connect, build community, and organize for work. Perhaps this has something to do with increasingly pervasive reports (and blowups) we see across ecosystems regarding toxic work culture or broken leadership styles. Top consulting firms doing global talent surveys continue to identify crucial breakdowns in talent development pointing right back to our topic at hand.

We all have access to these capabilities, but often we’ve lacked examples to learn by or have had little training on how to put them to work. Let’s look at the list of the most-needed human skills right now, shall we?

Topping the leaderboard moving into 2020:

  • Communication
  • Relationship building
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving (CQ)
  • Learning agility and adaptability quotient (AQ)
  • Creativity

If we were to take the items on this list and generalize them into three categories of importance for the future of work, it would look like:

  1. Emotional Quotient
  2. Adaptability Quotient
  3. Creativity Quotient

Some of us have been conditioned to think we’re “not creative” because the term “creativity” refers only to things like art, design, or music. However, in this case, “creativity” means the ability to combine ideas, things, techniques, or approaches in new ways—and it’s crucial to innovation. Solving problems in new ways is the most important skill companies look for when trying to solve their skill-gap problems. (Spoiler alert: This is learning agility!) Obviously, our generalized list ignores many nuances (not to mention additional skills we might develop in our people and organizations as contexts shift); however, this is a really great place to start.

Where do we go from here?

In order to accommodate the demands of tomorrow’s organizations, we must:

  • look at retraining and reskilling from early education models to organizational talent development programs, and
  • adjust our organizational culture and internal frameworks to support being human and innovative.

This means exploring open principles, agile methodologies, collaborative work models, and continuous states of learning across all aspects of your organization. Digital transformation and reskilling on core capabilities leaves no one—and no department—behind.

In our next installment, we’ll begin digging into these core capabilities and examine the five dimensions of learning agility with simple ways to apply them.

This article series was originally published on opensource.com.

Part One: A Brief Introduction to Learning Agility

Read now

Jen Kelchner

Jen Kelchner

I am a creative, a thinker, an analyst, a dot connector, a weaver of communities, a leader, a technologist, an entrepreneur, an innovator, a writer, an international speaker, and a Master of Change who is dedicated to building a better world.  

I intuitively understand the multidimensional transformation process, the technology of people and advise high-level leaders in the private and public sectors from around the world on transformation in leadership and culture.

Simplifying Organizational Change: A Guide for the Perplexed

Simplifying Organizational Change: A Guide for the Perplexed

Here’s a 4-step, open process for making change easier—both for you and your organization.

Most organizational leaders have encountered a certain paralysis around efforts to implement culture change—perhaps because of perceived difficulty or the time necessary for realizing our work. But change is only as difficult as we choose to make it. In order to lead successful change efforts, we must simplify our understanding and approach to change.

Change isn’t something rare. We live everyday life in a continuous state of change—from grappling with the speed of innovation to simply interacting with the environment around us. Quite simply, change is how we process, disseminate, and adopt new information. And whether you’re leading a team or an organization—or are simply breathing—you’ll benefit from a more focused, simplified approach to change. Here’s a process that can save you time and reduce frustration.

Three interactions with change

Everyone interacts with change in different ways. Those differences are based on who we are, our own unique experiences, and our core beliefs. In fact, only 5% of decision making involves conscious processing. Even when you don’t think you’re making a decision, you are actually making a decision (that is, to not take action).

So you see, two actors are at play in situations involving change. The first is the human decision maker. The second is the information coming to the decision maker. Both are present in three sets of interactions at varying stages in the decision-making process.

Engaging change

First, we must understand that uncertainty is really the result of “new information” we must process. We must accept where we are, at that moment, while waiting for additional information. Engaging with change requires us to trust—at the very least, ourselves and our capacity to manage—as new information continues to arrive. Everyone will respond to new information differently, and those responses are based on multiple factors: general hardwiring, unconscious needs that need to be met to feel safe, and so on. How do you feel safe in periods of uncertainty? Are you routine driven? Do you need details or need to assess risk? Are you good with figuring it out on the fly? Or does safety feel like creating something brand new?

Navigating change

“Navigating” doesn’t necessarily mean “going around” something safely. It’s knowing how to “get through it.” Navigating change truly requires “all hands on deck” in order to keep everything intact and moving forward as we encounter each oncoming wave of new information. Everyone around you has something to contribute to the process of navigation; leverage them for “smooth sailing.”

Adopting change

Only a small set of members in your organization will be truly comfortable with adopting change. But that committed and confident minority can spread the fire of change and help you grow some innovative ideas within your organization. Consider taking advantage of what researchers call “the pendulum effect,” which holds that a group as small as 5% of an organization’s population can influence a crowd’s direction (the other 95% will follow along without realizing it). Moreover, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10% of a population holds an unshakable belief, that belief will always be adopted by a majority. Findings from this cognitive study have implications for the spread of innovations and movements within a collective group of people. Opportunities for mass adoption are directly related to your influence with the external parties around you.

A useful matrix to guide culture change

So far, we’ve identified three “interactions” every person, team, or department will experience with change: “engaging,” “navigating,” and “adopting.” When we examine the work of implementing change in the broader context of an organization (any kind), we can also identify three relationships that drive the success of each interaction: “people,” “capacity,” and “information.”

Here’s a brief list of considerations you should make—at every moment and with every relationship—to help you build roadmaps thoughtfully.


Organizational success comes from the overlap of awareness and action of the “I” and the “We.”

  • Individuals (I) are aware of and engage based on their natural response strength.
  • Teams (We) are aware of and balance their responsibilities based on the Individual strengths by initiative.
  • Leaders (I/We) leverage insight based on knowing their (I) and the collective (We).


“Capacity” applies to skills, processes, and culture that is clearly structured, documented, and accessible with your organization. It is the “space” within which you operate and achieve solutions.

  • Current state awareness allows you to use what and who you have available and accessible through your known operational capacity.
  • Future state needs will show you what is required of you to learn, or stretch, in order to bridge any gaps; essentially, you will design the recoding of your organization.


  • Access to information is readily available to all based on appropriate needs within protocols.
  • Communication flows easily and is reciprocated at all levels.
  • Communication flow is timely and transparent.


  • Balance responses from both individuals and the collective will impact your outcomes.
  • Balance the I with the We. This allows for responses to co-exist in a seamless, collaborative way—which fuels every project.


  • Skills: Assuring a continuous state of assessment and learning through various modalities allows you to navigate with ease as each person graduates their understanding in preparation for the next iteration of change.
  • Culture: Be clear on goals and mission with a supported ecosystem in which your teams can operate by contributing their best efforts when working together.
  • Processes: Review existing processes and let go of anything that prevents you from evolving. Open practices and methodologies do allow for a higher rate of adaptability and decision making.
  • Utilize Talent: Discover who is already in your organization and how you can leverage their talent in new ways. Go beyond your known teams and seek out sources of new perspectives.


  • Be clear on your mission.
  • Be very clear on your desired endgame so everyone knows what you are navigating toward (without clearly defined and posted directions, it’s easy to waste time, money and efforts resulting in missed targets).


  • Behaviors have a critical impact on influence and adoption.
  • For internal adoption, consider the pendulum of thought swung by the committed few.


  • Sustainability: Leverage people who are more routine and legacy-oriented to help stabilize and embed your new initiatives.
  • Allows your innovators and co-creators to move into the next phase of development and begin solving problems while other team members can perform follow-through efforts.


  • Be open and transparent with your external communication.
  • Lead the way in what you do and how you do it to create a tidal wave of change.
  • Remember that mass adoption has a tipping point of 10%.

Four steps to simplify change

You now understand what change is and how you are processing it. You’ve seen how you and your organization can reframe various interactions with it. Now, let’s examine the four steps to simplify how you interact with and implement change as an individual, team leader, or organizational executive.

1. Understand change

Change is receiving and processing new information and determining how to respond and participate with it (think personal or organizational operating system). Change is a reciprocal action between yourself and incoming new information (think system interface). Change is an evolutionary process that happens in layers and stages in a continuous cycle (think data processing, bug fixes, and program iterations).

2. Know your people

Change is personal and responses vary by context. People’s responses to change are not indicators of the speed of adoption. Knowing how your people and your teams interact with change allows you to balance and optimize your efforts to solving problems, building solutions and sustaining implementations. Are they change makers, fast followers, innovators, stabilizers? When you know how you, or others, process change, you can leverage your risk mitigators to sweep for potential pitfalls; and, your routine minded folks to be responsible for implementation follow through.

3. Know your capacity

Your capacity to implement widespread change will depend on your culture, your processes, and decision-making models. Get familiar with your operational capacity and guardrails (process and policy).

4. Prepare for Interaction

Each interaction uses your people, capacity (operational), and information flow. Working with the stages of change is not always a linear process and may overlap at certain points along the way. Understand that people feed all engagement, navigation, and adoption actions.

Humans are built for adaptation to our environments. Yes, any kind of change can be scary at first. But it need not involve some major new implementation with a large, looming deadline that throws you off. Knowing that you can take a simplified approach to change, hopefully, you’re able to engage new information with ease. Using this approach over time—and integrating it as habit—allows for both the I and the We to experience continuous cycles of change without the tensions of old.

This article was originally published at opensource.com.

See more work on Open leadership + culture

More Open Org

Jen Kelchner

Jen Kelchner

I am a creative, a thinker, an analyst, a dot connector, a weaver of communities, a leader, a technologist, an entrepreneur, an innovator, a writer, an international speaker, and a Master of Change who is dedicated to building a better world.  

I intuitively understand the multidimensional transformation process, the technology of people and advise high-level leaders in the private and public sectors from around the world on transformation in leadership and culture.

Forbes: Forbes Coaches Council Members Share Their Greatest Accomplishments

Forbes: Forbes Coaches Council Members Share Their Greatest Accomplishments

Forbes Coaches Council Members Share Their Greatest Accomplishments

Learn from Forbes Coaches Council members as they share their greatest accomplishments.

Read more here on Forbes…


I define my success by the people I truly reach. The real accomplishments come when you see your client break out of whatever was holding them back to grasp a new mindset for their personal and business success. There is nothing quite like that audible gasp of an a-ha moment for a coach!

Jen Kelchner


This article has a mention by Jen Kelchner or is authored by Jen Kelchner and was originally posted on Forbes.com. Jen Kelchner is a founding member of the Forbes Coaches Council and frequently writes on leadership and the workplace.

10 Essential Things To Create A Breakthrough In Your Life Or Business

10 Essential Things To Create A Breakthrough In Your Life Or Business

“I’m waiting for my breakthrough…”

This is in the Top Three list of phrases I hear the most from others. I would argue that our breakthrough is waiting for us to be ready for it!

In order to welcome in something new, you need to make some adjustments to what you currently are doing.

Here is a 20 minute video training on the 10 essential areas you need to prepare to get your breakthrough in life or business.

The 10 Essentials


Take the time to find space and recharge. Naps are always great! But, rest is about taking the time to find some peace and reconnect with you.


Get out of your box! Press in to what is coming with anticipation. Your comfort zone will never accommodate a breakthrough.


You must stop doing what you normally do. Get fresh insight. Look for a new viewpoint and open your mind so that you can find clarity and see in new ways.


Be open to new insight and feedback from others. Remaining coachable will lead to success.


Read a good book. Create art or music. Go on an adventure and explore. You’ll gain fresh perspectives and feel recharged!


Again, you are wanting to create and experience something new. Stay in alignment with who you are so that you experience a real change.


Let go of the dogma and boundaries that may be holding you back from moving forward. Let go of finite set of perceptions so you can expand your borders. Create places of hope and release the negatives.


Some folks in our circles are only intended for a season. Take a look at who you surround yourself and identify if anyone is limiting you from moving into the next phase of your journey.


[Tweet “A rut is a coffin with the ends kicked out. “]

Change how and what you do. You can’t create a space for a breakthrough if you are stuck in your habits. The way you’ve always done it isn’t working. Time for a change!


Let go of the expectations you currently hold that tell you you should be further down the road or doing something differently. It is a journey. It will never look like you think it should look. Meet yourself where you are today!


Your takeaway here is to stop your “doing” and start the “being”. Be you and implement the essentials. You will begin to see things shift rapidly and that breakthrough will show up!

Which of these areas has been a game changer for you?

Share with us your breakthrough stories!

I welcome your comments and want your feedback! Please leave me some below here!

Why Your Story Matters In Your Business and Leadership

We all have a story.

It is your message and one tool to grow your influence.

People need to relate to us in a transparent and vulnerable way. However, we need to choose what is shared.

Watch this video below on how to create the right environment and why it will increase your influence.

Those around you need to hear your story – even in business! It can serve others and create a place of trust with your clients and followers.

It is about connecting and leveraging emotional intelligence to be relatable, trustworthy, and empathetic to your clients. Being in business doesn’t separate you from being who you are.

Utilize your emotional intelligence to serve others and grow your business, too!

Remember no one can argue with your story. You’ve lived it!

I want to hear your comments of how using your story improved your business or relationships.

Click Here For “As Seen In Forbes”


One Secret To Control Your Fear of Failure

One Secret To Control Your Fear of Failure

Create a visual tool for your mind’s eye and see how quickly your perspective on failure shifts.

The struggle with the fear of failure (and success) is a real thing. And, you are not alone in it.

But, let’s understand that there is a difference with a real, rational fear and the fear that lies to us.  If your life is in danger, then yes it is a credible, legitimate fear. Don’t do it.

These “fears” are disbeliefs and assumptions we have made over the years that are controlling us from success – or simple enjoyment of life. They are not founded in truths. They cripple us from doing great things.

We need to change the way we think. One of the tools I use with creating sustainable mindset shifts is to create a visual tool for my minds eye. This way we can manage the uncertainty and the fear so we can move towards our end goal.

Watch this video now to learn how to control the fear.

Remember, failure is learning what is not right for you and leads you to be in alignment with yourself.

Quick review:

Create a visual tool for your minds eye, or use mine.

When you have a misstep (or a really bad day when you forget yourself), pick up and move forward.

Take-away what you can do differently and apply it.

Recalculate (as often as you need to) to get back on track.

Leverage the lessons learned.

Please leave your comments for me below. I’d love to hear your input and if you have a “tool” that helps you manage the fear of failure when it comes knocking!


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