The Future of Workforce Development

I have spent most of my adult life inspired by the ideals of workplace learning and frustrated by the realities. Two years ago guided by the belief that invention was the best form of criticism I began what became Alex-42. It started simply enough. “I want to build the CAD/CAM for learning” was my quick pitch to a few close friends. That simple statement and the confused looks I got in return led to months of reverse engineering exactly what that would take. Each time I thought I had found the starting block I sketched up a deck to explain it and excitedly shared with others. Each time the confused looks, and additional thought on my part, revealed that it was a false bottom.

All along I continued to imagine what a world might look like when my vision was made real. All along the question, “what would have to be true in order for this to happen,” showed me I had more work to do. New design approaches required new tools. New tools required new standards. New standards required new ecosystems. I was no longer building a product or venture. I was building an environment, a world. My metal model shifted from CAD/CAM to TCP/IP and Dungeons & Dragons. I explored emergent and generative systems. My periodic pitches to friends now included a personal sanity check. Then it happened. My reverse engineering had finally brought me back to familiar territory. The question, “what would need to be true…” returned only answers that already existed.

Now my challenge shifted. Now I looked crazy for being so excited about a step that seemed so logical, almost utilitarian. The critical first step sat on a path that led to a very exciting, but obscured, future. The ten slide pitch deck seemed comically constrained. The two decades of experience with corporate Learning & Development described in my bio could not convey how inevitable the seismic shift I saw coming was. The beautiful vision, that over two years had grown in my head to be a full world could never fit in a pithy tagline. What was I do? I binge-watched some stuff. I watched a Neal Brennan stand-up special. Brennan’s “3 Mics” special is a brilliant piece of writing and a compelling recognition of the multi-faceted nature of ideas. When you are a brilliant writer with something to say, in a format that doesn’t work for your content, you redefine the format. When you are me, you simply copy that guy.

In New Orleans you often hear, “let your freak flag fly.” It’s not just a reminder to be true to yourself. It is also a call to trust. Trust that you are never really alone. Trust that if your source of joy is dressing as an 80’s aerobics star and doing dance routines to classic songs, there are others that find joy there too. Trust that if Star Wars, Star Trek or lewd satire is your thing, there is a parade’s worth of folks just like you. Trust that if motorizing your comfy chair or riding a scooter dressed as Elvis is your jam, the streets will be full of like-minded riders. Trust that your crazy idea, flown high, may still be crazy, but will not be yours alone. Time to hoist the flag.

Alex-42 Vol. 1 || Pitch Deck || 2023 Industry Analysis

The Ask

My ask is simple. If this is interesting to you, let me know I am not alone. If you know someone this might be interesting to, please share. If you know Neal Brennan, let him know I owe him one. – j.


One response to “The Future of Workforce Development

  1. Pingback: 2023 L&D Look Ahead – Running Training Like A Business 2.0

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