“I think we have to help organizations get out of the way and let people unleash and unlock their capabilities in ways that do not require the organization to be at the center.”
Greg Pryor, executive director at Workday, shared this insight recently when he was a guest on the RedThread Research podcast called the Skills Obsession, an ongoing series on the near-term future of people and work practices. The conversation focused on skills, a topic Pryor knows well based on his own experience as a human capital practitioner, his extensive writing and research, his collaboration with academics (“geeking out with other thought leaders,” as he describes it), and his experience talking with Workday customers.
The conversation included a deep dive into why professional mobility is about mindset, not movement, why a shift in how we talk about skills is happening now, and which technologies are fueling it. Below are more of Pryor’s insights from the interview; listen to the podcast here.
On How He Defines Skills:
“I believe we're seeing a shift to what we would call ‘capabilities,’ which are the new career currency. It's a really significant shift, especially amongst people a bit earlier in their careers, to absolutely understand that their capabilities—collecting, developing, maturing, progressing—are the way they will see both success and satisfaction.
“I'm a big fan of Bob Johansen at the Institute for the Future, and in his book, The New Leadership Literacies, he talks about this idea, especially for this younger group, of a gameful mindset at work. And I think he is onto something powerful here. I was with the CHRO of a U.S.-based retailer who shared with me that during the pandemic, he was playing Fortnite with his daughter. And finally he turned to her and said, ‘Honey, when is this game over? When do I win?’ And she said, ‘Dad, you don't win; you just level up.’
“And I think this is the paradigm. When we look at the next generation of our workforce, they think about collecting capabilities and skills, and that gives them the optionality to do amazing things in the future. Those are the superpowers they put in their backpack—the ones they use to face the next great challenge.”