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How to develop talents the right way with TIPS (Part 1)

Have you ever noticed that you can learn certain topics more easily than others? And that if you’re exposed to these contents in ways that suit your preferred learning styles, acquiring new knowledge and skills becomes easy-peasy? And perhaps, you have even realized that different talents in your team like to learn and be trained in different ways. Why is this? Because of differences in their talent profile and preferred cognitive styles. Enter TIPS! TIPS is Thinkergy’s talent & innovator profiling system designed for business success in the fast-paced, disruptive 21st century. TIPS integrates the four TIPS bases (theories, ideas, people systems) and the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact, and live) into one conceptual model used to profile knowledge workers into one of 11 TIPS profiles (see illustration below).

I originally created TIPS as a new profiling tool to help organizations better align the people-side of innovation. However, once I had conceived TIPS and began working with the concept, I realized fairly quickly that TIPS could also help organizations optimize the people-side of the business because TIPS can give insights and guidance along all stages of the talent management lifecycle. One key aspect of talent management that will gain in importance in the coming decades is talent development.

Today and in two weeks, let’s explore how the ways we prefer to learn relates to our talent type and related preferred cognitive styles, and how a better understanding of different learner types and styles can help support the Learning and Development (L&D) efforts of organizations eager to upskill and reskill their knowledge workers and creators for the digital innovation economy of the 2020s. 

Who should be trained in what?

Based on how they profile in TIPS, learners are likely to enjoy and do well in particular training courses that cognitively align with their talents, cognitive predispositions, and interests. In other words, profiling your employees in TIPS can help ensure that you “put the right person into the right training course” based on their cognitive predisposition, enthusiasm, and interest in different courses. I already discussed this topic in more general terms in an earlier article titled Who should be trained in what (published in the Thinkergy blog in February 2019).

What upskilling courses can transform knowledge workers into (digital) innovators and change agents?

Over the past months, I contemplated the upskilling and re-skilling needs of organizations confronted with digital transformation and industry disruption:

  • First, I listed general activities that knowledge workers and creators need to master in the innovation economy of the Sixth Wave of leading technological development (such as “think,” “learn, unlearn, relearn,” “create,” and “communicate,” among others).
  • Then, I positioned these general activities on the Pays map.
  • Next, I thought about what critical skills organizational knowledge workers, creators, and marketers need to master to successfully ride the waves of disruptive change we’re likely to witness in many industries in the coming two decades.
  • Finally, I aligned these digital, cognitive, and communicative business skills with the identified core activities on the TIPS map.

The illustration below features my take on critical 21st-century skills development training courses organized alongside the TIPS profiling map. (Note: Thinkergy has offered and run the courses highlighted on orange Post-its as part of our “Business Thinking Skills”-training curriculum for more than five years).

Who should be trained how?

We’ve just discussed how TIPS can help organizations to send the right person into the right training course. But how can TIPS also help organizations to train each talent in the right way? For quite some time, I have contemplated how TIPS may help organizations to develop employees in harmony with their preferred learning styles. The pedagogical concept of learning styles tries to capture differences in how individual learners prefer to process information and make sense of it to acquire and retain knowledge and then, through practice, transfer it into applied know-how.

Proponents of learning style theories argue that different individuals like to acquire knowledge in a certain way and process information more effectively if they can learn it in a way that suits their styles. 

The pedagogical literature on learning styles counts more than 70 different concepts. Some learning style models have gained wider traction than others. For example, Michael Kolb developed one learning styles model based on his experiential learning cycle concept, a pedagogical framework. While I’ve adapted the experiential learning cycle pedagogy in the design and delivery of Genius Journey, Thinkergy’s creative leadership model, it doesn’t fit our more cognitively inclined personality profiling tool TIPS. 

So, in my attempt to develop a TIPS-compatible learning styles concept, I drew upon three other models that all align with TIPS or already form an imminent conceptual part of the model. The three models look at the differences in individual learning styles from three different viewpoints — a cognitive, a sensory, and a social perspective. 

Interim conclusion: Putting the right person into the right training is necessary, but not sufficient

The transformative changes that will likely affect many industries in the coming years will require companies to upskill and reskill their workforce on a large scale. A cognitive profiling tool like TIPS can help organizations ensure that they send their knowledge workers in those training programs that cognitively fit their talents and preferred cognitive styles. Employing such a focused talent development approach ensures that organizations can enjoy a higher talent development value for each training dollar spent. However, they can increase their talent development ROI even further if, in each training program, the training provider presented the contents in harmony with individuals’ preferred learning styles. In part 2 of this article published in two weeks, I will develop a model on how TIPS may guide organizations to achieve such a personalized training content delivery by integrating cognitive, sensory, and social aspects of learning styles.

  • Care to learn more about TIPS, our talent and innovator profiling system? 
  • Have you become curious about how you might profile in TIPS? Take the TIPS online test for $89.
  • Would you like us to profile your entire team and show your team members how to apply TIPS to produce better results in business and innovation? Then contact us to learn more about our TIPS training programs (that we also offer as highly interactive live online courses).

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2020. The article is published in the Thinkergy Blog on November 19, 2020. It might be reprinted in the business section of the Bangkok Post within the coming weeks.

Credits: Photo by Thinkergy. The shot features a learner of our Visual Thinking training course (which is part of our Business Thinking Skills training series), who profiles as an Ideator and thus prefers a visual-auditory leaner style. More on the topic of learning styles in part 2 of this article.