How can you stay current in your field when work, jobs, and even professions are constantly changing?

Harold Jarche talks about the importance of human connections, of networking and of supporting people in order to develop your skills and future employability.

We all know the only constant is change. We are seeing that in our politics, our businesses, our climate… technology, relationships, industry sectors and so much more. In a world where everything is evolving and jobs that weren’t even invented ten years ago are recruiting, how can you possibly be ready for the rest of your career?

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Harold Jarche, learning and work consultant at Jarche Consulting, extolls the virtues of human connections and cultivating networks as well as making sense of what we read and are involved in, with deliberate practice of sharing. Jarche has developed the Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) framework to deal with these challenges in the professional world. “If you develop this externally you don’t have all your eggs in the company basket” commented Jarche of developing networks and skills to be ready for the changing professional landscape.

Jarche’s framework suggests that people need to ‘seek’ information, make ‘sense’ of it and then be able to ‘share’ it. Jarche suggests we need to focus on how to be a better person in a networked world; how to improve as a human beings and a professionals in our field. He recommends the book Working Out Loud by John Stepper for further reading.

We didn’t know what we were doing. But we wouldn’t know if we didn’t try it out.

Jarche’s tool for making sense of what he’s working on and seeing is his blog. He calls them “half-baked” ideas and started writing about PKM in 2004 whilst self-employed and “needing to do self-development on the cheap.” Jarche’s blog developed into the first PKM online workshop, costing very little as Jarche says “we didn’t know what we were doing. But we wouldn’t know if we didn’t try it out.”

This was a small conversation event and an audience question was “do you use different platforms to experiment?” Jarche answered that the late “Jay Cross and I worked on the informal unlearning workshop. We used online platforms and a different platform every time, and we had to learn one each time. It was trial by fire, but we got good at the tools. Most learning technology is dumbed down information technology. If you want cutting edge, go to it. Companies are taking something from the cutting edge and wrapping it in education, so it’s always out of date. The technology doesn’t matter and no technology is going to be perfect.”

Another audience question at the round-table event was: “How do you assess maturity in learning businesses? For example at this Learning Technologies show, there are some learning purists. Learning don’t have the power base to influence the business?”

The response from Jarche was “shut down the training department – I wrote about this ten years ago. One of the problems is four or five different disciplines in an organisation are all looking at the same thing. The business doesn’t care about what learning want to do. You need to start from first principles and focus on the business.”
Jarche continued this theme, sharing his experience that “senior executives only ask for ROI if they don’t believe in what you are doing. The only way for learning to be strategic is to be part of the business. Learning is not separate from work.”

Harold Jarche (right) at the Learning Technologies Exchange in February 2016. Photo – Training Journal

Refocusing on the challenge of our own career and professional development, Jarche recommends individuals have their own network and community of practice: “Someday you may lose your job and you’ll have a skill set transferable to another job. You also have a skill set to use in your current work. If you want to change, connect to people who are doing that [job, role or topic]. We are social animals and social networks are exceptionally important. We can leverage them, but not in a manipulative way. If you want the network to be strong, you have to share with them too.”

Jarche finished by emphasising the sense making and sharing elements of modern networking, “you know you are in a community of practice when it changes your practice. The world is changing too fast for formal education to keep up, but we still have to do great work and be great humans in society. A lot of these tool scan help us get back in touch with our humanity.”


Find out more about Harold Jarche’s work on Personal Knowledge Mastery at and follow him on Twitter @HJarche


About the exchange programme:

The LT Exchange is a free opportunity to have round table discussions with some of the world’s most influential learning sector thought-leaders – and is available to all L&D practitioners visiting the Learning Technologies exhibition.

A collaboration between Learning Technologies and Towards Maturity, the Exchanges programme was launched in 2011 with the aim to share effective practice, thought leadership and stimulate innovation in L&D.

This year, the Learning Technologies Exchanges was co-hosted with Training Journal and tackled the practical issues facing today’s L&D leaders: supporting change, leveraging networks, mobile learning, micro learning and how to get ahead with technology in 2017.

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