In today’s world, the concept of career paths has transformed drastically. No longer is the question merely, what do you want to be when you grow up? Because the average 12 year old today will have 17 different jobs over five different careers. Back when I was at school, I had no idea that a profession like mine even existed.
This episode interviews Nicole Dyson from “Future Anything”. She’s an accomplished educator and entrepreneur who has numerous awards and is a recognized authority on youth entrepreneurship and is the perfect individual to discuss the future of leadership. We discuss what the future of leadership will look like, what skills we will need, and what we can do TODAY to get ready.
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Kate Peardon: In today’s world, the concept of career paths has transformed drastically. No longer is the question merely, what do you want to be when you grow up? Because the average 12 year old today will have 17 different jobs over five different careers. Back when I was at school, I had no idea that a profession like mine even existed.
A leadership coach and mentor working in businesses using positive psychology and strategy to make workplaces better for businesses and people? Not even on my radar. I still vividly recall my initial foray into the corporate world. I was tasked with using a fax machine and answering the phone to take calls of who was sick that day.
That was almost two decades ago. Now imagine if we didn’t adapt our leadership strategies for the future and we still led the same way we did 20 years ago. Today. I am thrilled to introduce our podcast guest, Nicole Dyson. She’s an accomplished educator and entrepreneur who has numerous awards and is a recognized authority on youth entrepreneurship and is the perfect individual to discuss the future of leadership. Nicole brings a wealth of experience as a former school teacher within the Australian public education system. She is the driving force behind Future Anything, an award winning educational initiative, impacting over 15, 000 young individuals and their educators every year. Her contributions also extend to YouthX, which is Australia’s exclusive start up accelerator for school age entrepreneurs, and Catapult Cards, a design thinking toolkit that benefits both classrooms and corporate settings with 50 percent of its profits channeled into micro grants for youth led startups.
I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with Nicole for several years. She has been a guest facilitator in the year long leadership programs I conduct for corporate clients, and I’m excited to welcome her as a guest on our podcast to delve into the skills that we need to lead into the future because the future, well, it’s already here.
Welcome to the podcast, Nicole Dyson, one of my favorite people to talk to about all things, future and leadership. And Nicole has a business called Future Anything and comes from a unique background to leading this business. So I won’t call you Nicole because you’re not in trouble. Nic, welcome to the podcast.
Please share a little bit about how you got to where you are.
Nicole Dyson: Gosh, where to begin. Thanks Kate and thank you for not calling me Nicole. I feel like we’re on good footing to begin this. Yeah, I think I always talk about taking the scenic route in life, and I feel like it was the scenic route to get to education, and then it was the scenic route to get to Future Anything.
But maybe if I go back to who Nicole was, as a school student, and if I look back on my report cards, the common words were that I was very conscientious and very compliant. You know, I spent 12 years of my schooling kind of doing what I was told. And so then when I left school and suddenly these adults were kind of looking at me to make decisions about the future of my life, I remember feeling very overwhelmed because there wasn’t this rule book that I was supposed to follow.
And that was really disorientating, because I think success in schooling was built around just following the instructions. And then suddenly, there were no instructions. I ended up taking some time overseas working as a swimming coach through summer camps in the US and also through London. “And I think that’s where I discovered that more than anything else in the world, I just love seeing young people do things that they didn’t think they could do. You know, there’s this beautiful moment when a young person looks at you with this lack of belief in themselves. And then you manage to coach them into doing the thing that they didn’t think they could do.
And for this brief glimmer of time after that happens, anything is possible for them. They suddenly see the power of their potential and the possibility that sits within that. And there’s something really magical in that space. And so that kind of, that love of seeing that brilliance shine in young people took me into education.
And then I think I got into the education system and quickly realized that maybe what I thought I’d be doing as an educator wasn’t quite what I was doing as an educator. And the question that kept haunting me from young people was this question of, “Why are we doing this?” And I think it’s probably a question that sits within adults in jobs that they don’t feel a deep sense of purpose and connection to as well, or when the work is skewed away from your sense of self.
It’s that same question, whether you’re 15 or 55, I think it’s the one thing that’ll keep you up at night is that question of, “Why am I doing this?” And so, for me, it was this disconnect that existed between the learning that young people were doing in the classroom and the stuff that they needed to do life in the outside world.
And maybe I was reflecting back on how inadequate I felt to navigate life after school from just following the rules. And so how do we do it differently so that our young people are better prepared to take ownership and agency of the pathways that are sitting in front of them when they leave school.
So I kind of just had a bit of a gamble. I was like, “Is it possible to build a company that works with schools and systems to support educators and leaders to do school differently?” So that that question wouldn’t sit in the minds of every young person in every classroom. And, one of my personal mantras is, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
So in leaving a very stable leadership role within the public education system, the question was, well, what’s the worst that can happen? It could all fall apart and then I can return back. to being a leader within schools, or maybe this might be something. And so, six years later, it’s still something, which is a marvel even to me. And we’ve sort of gone from working with 100 students in one school, the first year that I stepped outside the classroom.
And this year we’re working with about 18,000 young people in 150 schools around the country. And really, I guess the question that drives us is, “how do we do education just a little bit better for young people and for educators and for schools and systems”, so that the students that step outside the classroom at the end of their journey, asking, why am I doing this? they know what they’re doing and where they’re going.
Kate Peardon: And like most people that have their own business, it’s never a straight line. I remember conversations we had, I was think six years ago. That does sound right over many coffees where you and I were at the same time trying to break out of the world that we sort of grew up in for you. It was education for me it was corporate. I think there must be a better way to do things or a different way to do things.
And I think I can make a difference, but I’ve got to figure out how to do this. And it’s so wonderful to see these six years later through different businesses, through different avenues, how you have built your business in a way that has an impact on young people and teachers and the world around them.
So for anyone that’s not familiar with Future Anything, can you share a little bit about what a student and an educator can expect by being involved in Future Anything? And then we’ll talk a little bit about the leadership of it.
Nicole Dyson: I would describe our work sitting in maybe four distinct portfolios. The first thing is you can’t have compelling curriculum in the classroom without confident educators. So I would say the first big piece of work that we do as a company that’s founded by an educator and led by educators is that we do teach professional development.
So how do we build the capacity of educators? if you’re confident to teach the way they want to teach, because if you don’t kind of address that linchpin, it doesn’t really matter. You’re not going to see any effect in change in the classroom. So that’s the first thing.
And that PD tends to center around how do we create curriculum that kind of reflects the real world and supports young people to be the best version of themselves when they leave. So really sitting in that curriculum design and development and reimagining learning, is probably a cornerstone piece for us. The second piece is, we run a bunch of student workshops. I describe these as almost like just a taste of what you can experience from working with us. They’re one day, two day or four day programs where young people get to go from kind of looking at the stuff that matters to them through to sharing an innovative idea that solves a challenge that they feel connected to.
So we kind of start with self, and then by the end the students are pitching cool ideas. The third piece, which is our flagship program and the idea baby I’m most proud of, is our Activate program. And it’s a curriculum embedded program that schools run over 10 weeks or 20 weeks that kind of those student workshop experiences, but way bigger and better.
So at the beginning of the 10 week program, we start with the students looking at who they are and what they care about and the things that they feel challenged by in the world. And then by the end of that 10 week program, they’re pitching cool ideas. But, I guess what’s even better about that is the teaching teams that deliver this program get that professional learning.
So they’re getting that capacity building and the program culminates in a national grand final where the best young people from around the country can pitch their cool ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win the funding, to do something about the cool idea they came up with.
I have been part of it and the passion is phenomenal. The belief that they have in themselves that they never thought they could is phenomenal. It is actually life changing for these people.
Yeah. Look, I just think there’s something special that happens from a young person standing side of stage compared to when they walk off stage after doing something they didn’t think they could do.
And it’s never about the idea, but it’s about the young person and you’re a hundred percent right. It’s about their belief in themselves. And I feel like in education, that’s our greatest mission is to build young people up so that they have this confidence in their own potential and the possibility that sits in front of them. If we do nothing else, then I think we’re okay. So yeah, look a little bit biased, but the National Grand Final is definitely the best night of the year. And then the fourth piece of work that we do ispartnerships with different organizations. So certainly working in the corporate space in the past with you, Kate, and looking at how we can almost develop the intrapreneur within organizations to save challenges in front of them and solve those complex issues in innovative and human centered ways.
Along with working with broader educational systems to reimagine how they’re all of their schools do education, to like really deep work within one school. So there’s a primary school on the Sunshine Coast that we’re doing a really beautiful piece of work reimagining that curriculum from prep all the way through year six.
And so that partnership bucket sits with sort of corporates and also local government and state government, schools, a plethora of organizational leads who are interested in rethinking their ways of doing.
Kate Peardon: I know a lot of people have got an opinion that school is not equipped for where we are now where we need in the future. There’s a lot of talk about it, and it’s really refreshing to talk to somebody who’s doing something about it.
But I think the important thing is, it’s bigger than just you. It’s not about 1 person. It is about expanding the competencies to be able to change and make impact, which is exactly what the program is about.
And if I think about education and sort of where we’ve come from for the different economies, like the industrial economy, like it used to be about who was the strongest, who could plow their field with manual labor. And then, we got machines, and so it wasn’t about who was the strongest, that wasn’t the skillset that was needed. It was then, well, who is the smartest? It was this knowledge economy.
So we went from the field into the factories and making the machines to make goods. It was then, well, who is the smartest? It was all then about the better education, who knew the most.
And now we’ve gone from that and people talk about the heart economy. So, how we feel and how we interact as humans, but we’ve got AI that’s getting pretty good at that. And so we’re thinking about, well, what comes next? How do we equip young people to come through with this new set of skills because the world is changing so quickly, but it’s not just young people that need these new skills. Everybody needs these new skills, as well as how do we lead with these new skills?
I remember particularly through COVID, but for many other instances, people that could not see the team that they were leading, they weren’t physically sitting outside their office. “I can’t lead them”. I can’t lead them over the internet or if they’re working in another country because they were only taught a certain type of leadership.
So there’s many questions that’s gonna come out of this. My first question is around the skillset. What sort of skills are we seeing come through from your programs that are needed for the youth and adults to be having for the economy that we’re in now and the economy of their future?
Nicole Dyson: Yeah, I look at a bucket load of research and happy to kind of send through a heap of links that kind of sit around this where skills are going in the future.
There’s a couple of stats that always jump out to me. The first is the average 12 year old today will have 17 different jobs over five different careers. Some of the language that we need to stop using with young and old people is what do you want to be when you grow up because you’re going to be so many things and so I think it’s not your identity.
Yes. And if that is your identity, that’s a whole other issue.
Yes. And so I think,coming back to providing opportunities for people to unravel what it is that lights them up and then providing pathways for the young people to see the potential of that. Because if we get really caught up in the occupation, we miss the fact that that occupation could shift so significantly in the next decade that it might not look like what it does.
And anybody who’s been to university knows that by the time you finish your degree, everything that you’ve learned is obsolete anyway. So I think that’s kind of the first mindset to have is that we’re sitting a point in time in the world where things are changing so rapidly, that there’s no way to know what will be in the future.
And some of the work that we speak with teachers is you can’t teach young people with the bias of the present. My, Year 10 maths teacher said to me, like, Nicole, you really need to pay attention to this. It’s not like you’re going to have a calculator in your pocket everywhere you go. But like I do, I do have a calculator
Kate Peardon: in my pocket.
and imagine what students now are going to be saying about the way
Nicole Dyson: that’s being taught. Exactly. Exactly. And this is the thing, like, that was a really well meaning, well intentioned comment by my teacher. I was like, gosh, if you don’t nail this, like you’re going to be left with this huge gap in your future because it was the bias of the present that was preventing that educator from seeing what might sit beyond that particular knowledge piece, I guess.
So when we first started Future Anything and we still on our website call ourselves an entrepreneurship education company and that language is falling away fast for me personally and also for the organization because it’s not about building. a generation of entrepreneurs, but it is about building and surprising thinkers and doers, young people and old people.
and the definition that we use that is marked by an independent energetic spirit and a readiness to act. Cause if you’ve got a generation of thinkers and doers that if they see a problem in front of them, if we can find creative and collaborative ways to solve that challenge, then we’re all going to be okay.
So, that’s kind of the premise of the work, but then underpinning that is a number of key capabilities that we focus on. and the first one, there’s a bunch of them. Creativity and innovation, I would say, is critical, for the next generation of if you can’t find creative ways to solve complex problems, the technology will do your job. And so looking at that creativity piece as like a linchpin or a critical capability that unlocks the rest. Sitting beyond that, I think communication, like being a strong communicator is also a critical skill, both written but especially verbal communication, because a really great CV will get you an interview, but being able to confidently sit in front of somebody and have a conversation is what will get you the job. So how do you connect through communication, I think is really, really important. The other one that I would say is really critical is Adaptive Mindset. So this sits under the research around your AQ, the Adaptability Quotient, but this is kind of how you see feedback as fuel in order to get better. So in order to be agile and adaptive and have that growth mindset, that resilience, I think that’s really, really important.
And then project management skills. So how are you able to take a task, break it down into pieces, and then allocate roles and responsibilities? And kind of get it done within the time allocated. So I’d say those are kind of the four that I think are most important. And then a really deep rabbit hole of thinking that I’m in at the moment is that potentially, Curiosity sits at the center of all of that.
Because you can’t be creative without having that curious questioning. You can’t be agile, and adaptive. And if you’re not curious about what could be, you can’t have really strong project management skills if you can’t have that curiosity about different ways of working or working with others.
And I don’t think you can connect through communication unless you’ve got that curiosity around, well, “how could we do this?” And, “and what if? So I’d say those are probably the critical capabilities. And in which case, it doesn’t matter what tech is developed. or what roles look like, those capabilities will be critical, irrespective.
Kate Peardon: And then, the question comes, how do you lead people to foster these? Also, how do you lead people to use this as part of every day? And people that are creative and want to try different things, when perhaps you might be the leader that is used to people doing what you tell them to do. And that’s no longer the picture of success.
Nicole Dyson: Yeah, I think that’s the million dollar question, right? Is how you cultivate these capabilities and then strengthen them within.
I would say there’s a few things that maybe we don’t do, and this might leave us open for a bunch of ways that maybe things that we can do, but I feel like sometimes when we’re talking about these skills and capabilities, we don’t actually define them in the context that we’re working in. And so we have expectations of what these capabilities are, but unless you’re sitting down and saying, look, creativity in our organization looks like this, project management in our organization looks like this, communication in our organization looks like this.
And so you’re placing that lens over the top of the capability. And in doing so, you should be providing, I guess, a benchmark of what that looks like when it’s being done really well. And then also some examples of what that looks like when it’s not being done so well, so that the person can actually kind of calibrate where they sit on that continuum within the organization that they’re working within.
Kate Peardon: Historically we’ve always expected the more senior hierarchical, they have the answers. And I think if we look at the skill sets where we’re looking at curiosity and, the answers are not from experience anymore. The answers are not from those that have worked here the longest, and there’s a change in mindset really needed to how we approach what we’re doing and where things come from the future. And it is not from those with the gray hair always used to be that we would turn to, to answer.
Nicole Dyson: I’d love to get your perspective on this, Kate. I feel like in the post-COVID world, There’s also, I think, a lack of resilience around, like, feedback and growth within organisations at the moment, too.
And so sometimes that top down conversation is really tainted in the hierarchy, and then sometimes that coaching or that growth isn’t received. So if you can kind of switch the model so that you can see it across the same level that you’re on, not just from a top down, maybe that’s a gentler way of seeing some of the gaps in your practice and addressing them.
Kate Peardon: That’s really interesting. I agree. Feedback is a challenge, and resilience. And particularly what I have found in my work is people’s bucket of what they can manage is full. It’s not like they’re managing less, but there’s more things that are in it. So what happens is you add another thing on top and it overflows.
So there’s a few things. One is how do we empty the bucket of stress, pressure, expectations, life. So there’s a bit more, capacity.
And the other is skills on how to receive feedback in a way that this feedback is not an attack on who you are and your existence, or it’s not, “you are wrong”. it’s how to be able to notice that feedback as something that is, maybe you can take or leave, but work with it when you’re ready to work with, and how to take that on. There’s a whole piece around feedback, I couldn’t agree more. How it’s delivered and how it’s received and the responsibility of both parties.
I like what you say also about putting things, sort of top down, putting things on an equal level.
As an example of something that’s completely in a different industry that’s doing this well. there’s an orchestra called the Queensland Medical Orchestra, and it is medical people and some non medical people all coming together to play in an orchestra and medicine. historically has been extremely hierarchical and look, it is still hierarchical now.
And I know there’s a lot of work being done around it. but once you get to a certain level, your field of medicine to have the answers, and then you tell the answers to those that are more junior, obviously, particularly this context that we’re talking about, that’s not really a model that’s going to work for now and the future.
What I particularly like about this orchestra is you have people with all levels of experience in medicine sitting next to each other on an equal playing field, making music together. And breaking down some of those barriers from an intern to a senior consultant, who typically the intern would not felt comfortable, maybe being allowed to speak to the consultant, breaking down them to just seeing that they’re people. And I think that’s actually building a skillset and a capability and confidence in an area that hadn’t or really been comfortable to have that before.
So it makes me think what other areas can we do this in to really equalize this playing field instead of being a title or experience or age or whatever the case may be.
Nicole Dyson: I wonder how that also goes to build a sense of accountability in those that might find it easy to default to those more senior positions, if that makes sense. Like, I think there’s also an ability to not take ownership for what’s in front of you.
If you can justify that it’s the responsibility of somebody who might sit theoretically above you, but by sitting in that orchestra place where your contribution matters just as much as the person next to you, that it does build a sense of ownership over your contribution to like, I have to show up as the best version of myself in the best way that I can, or else I’m collectively letting down the entire group.
Kate Peardon: In leadership profiling, we call it dependence, and often not always, but often you will see it if someone defaulting to someone they believe is more experienced or more confident or whatever the case may be for the answer, even though their contribution is just as valid to their, it is decreasing the dependence that people feel in another.
So I think it’s such a wonderful example of a little pocket, like a pocket of brilliance of where this is being done well. And I believe the programs that you’re running are these pockets of brilliance of how people can be taking where they are and stretching. And the work that we have done together in leadership programs, I think is a fascinating example as well.
So the programs that I’ve run as a year long leadership course, Nic would come in and run the program that she runs with teenagers. with a group of corporate leaders.
What did you notice between the teens and the corporate work? Any similarities or differences?
Nicole Dyson: Oh, gosh, absolutely. I think that the process works regardless of the age. And what you’ve highlighted, I think, is something really critical is that in a solutions finding process, right?
Like whether it’s with young people or whether it’s with corporate leaders, you have to actually start with the person first, like their sense of self, because if they’re an entrepreneur solving a challenge that exists outside of their ecosystem, or they’re an intrapreneur solving a challenge that might exist within their workplace, they actually have to choose the challenge based on their lived experience of the challenge and also their connection to the challenge.
And so why I raise this is when you have maybe diluted outcomes by a participant, young or old, it’s often because the challenge that they’ve chosen, they have diluted interest in, so it doesn’t actually deeply connect to their sense of self and who they are, and maybe they don’t have enough experience with the problem to actually solve it.
So I would say that commonality exists, whether it’s with a 14 year old tackling a mental health challenge they see in school, or a 44 year old who’s actually looking at challenging a bottleneck in one of their systems within the organization. So that’s definitely consistent.
I think the other thing is maybe deep down, we’re all just 15 year old kids that are scared of public speaking.
Kate Peardon: It is so true.
Nicole Dyson: That fear is so real. You know, we make so many assumptions because somebody is like wearing adult sized clothing that they actually have, the skills to communicate or to persuade or to affect change or to shape those conversations.
And maybe that’s the killer of most great work is the assumptions we make about the person who’s doing the work.
Kate Peardon: In a previous podcast, we were talking about curiosity, what’s the curiosity around the assumptions that we’re making?
And the curiosity is that we presume as an adult, when you wear adult size clothes, you become a good public speaker, which is not the case.
Nicole Dyson: No, I think, it’s interesting that you mentioned creativity too, like in our research, we pre test both our teachers and our students in their confidence in six capabilities, four of which I mentioned before, the other two are problem solving and critical thinking as well.
And what’s fascinating to me is that it doesn’t matter whether I’m benchmarking nine year olds in a primary school or 39 year olds as teachers in schools, the capability that is lowest is always creativity. Because we have this, generally speaking, quite a negative relationship to creativity because we signpost it as the creative arts, not realizing that creativity is often a way of thinking and doing that doesn’t have to manifest in art and music.
So our relationship to creativity is often quite disconnected. Maybe like me, you had a year nine art teacher who kind of took one look at your sculpture and went, not for you.
Kate Peardon: We must have had the same year nine art teacher because I got a C in art. This is not good, Kate.
And I think it was like a commiseration C because I tried. I was just not very good with the paintbrush.
Nicole Dyson: I did sculpt a phone, as my sculpture piece. So, you know, it’s, possible that that wasn’t my strength, if I think back. But what’s really interesting is in that solution finding process, creativity sits at the center if you want to look at doing something differently. Because otherwise, all you do is you replicate the same solutions that have been tried before and potentially haven’t worked. And, creativity isn’t always thinking up something completely new that doesn’t exist, but it’s thinking up a new way to look at something that either might exist or might not exist yet.
And so the other consistency that I would say between the young and old, is also this reluctance to go big with thinking and apply that creativity and context. This real fear around being uncomfortable, and stretching beyond what you know is safe, you know, playing it safe.
And so the real change makers in organizations and the world, I think, have that willingness to ask the question around what if we gave this a go?
And so, the challenge in the education system and I would argue maybe most corporate settings is that we don’t necessarily encourage that thinking because it’s more difficult to manage those creative thinkers. And we talk in schools about the difference between the compliant learner and the engaged learner.
The compliant worker, for example, sits at their desk and does what they’re told and answers their emails and meets the benchmarks. And the engaged worker or the engaged learner does that, but then also stretches at the edges of what maybe the organization or the school or the learning should be doing.
And that questioning can be confrontational for a leader or a teacher.
Kate Peardon: Exactly. And with that discomfort can mean they want to shut it down. To sit in that discomfort as a leader when you’re being challenged is part of the growth as well.
And when you mentioned about the thinking big ideas, I know as a facilitator, you do these brain warmup activities. So if you think if you’re running a marathon, you stretch first, you work with people and make sure that they’ve stretched their thinking. And so we do these fun games to really stretch people’s thinking into thinking big and thinking different before actually tackling the problem.
And the framework that you put around this process of coming up with an idea that you’re passionate about to make a difference, whether that is with you, this in school, about coming up with a product or a service that they can do that with.
And they actually go through that process of creating it and pitching it at this fun Christmas-esque type event, which is similar to the work we’ve done with businesses where they would look at something that they’re passionate about within the business that I believe can be changed and improved, and they go through the process of actually fleshing that out, getting buy in and pitching that as an idea.
And then businesses give them the backing to follow that through. It’s exactly the same skill set in two different environments.
Nicole Dyson: Yeah. One thing to think about, like that stretching, we talk about creativity, being the right cultural conditions, along with maybe some constraints and an actual fact, sometimes keeping the question too big or too broad is actually more challenging for people.
So you’re setting the cultural conditions to enable that creativity to flourish, and then you’re setting the right constraints around that problem solving space so that there’s a bit of inspiration because boundaries can actually provide some inspiration in that process.
So thinking about that, there’s so much that can be done. And sometimes the idea that there’s so much that can be done becomes paralyzing.
Kate Peardon: There’s too much. I don’t even know where to start. So with the leadership, I often talk about what’s the 1%. So what’s 1 percent and the idea of compounding interest and 1 percent and 1 percent and 1 percent is where we start to see change. So thinking about what we’ve discussed today and the idea of future anything and how the skills for today and the skills of the future and how we lead.
If you are a leader or you want to be a leader and thinking, well, what is the skillset or what’s one thing I can do? What’s one small thing that I could apply starting today, that would help make this an environment where that can happen.
The first thing that I’d come back to is say, gosh, what are the three, four or five transferable skills that I feel like every person who works within my organization needs to have with a degree of confidence in order to be successful here?
Nicole Dyson: Yeah. and maybe I’d start with defining those as an organization and then I would look at, well, what do they look like when they show up in the organization in success and what do they look like when they’re not working within the organization? So I would start to create that continuum.
And then I think the critical layer after that is just actually markering explicitly those skills as they show up. And so it’s using that explicit language modeling with the team around, Hey, you know, introduce those values or if you want to call them values or skills or capabilities that you require and say, these are the things that we know are important to our organization.
And when they’re working, like this is what hums along. And when they’re not working, this is how we’re impacted as an organization. And then start to name those things as you see them.
Kate Peardon: So let’s just talk through one practical example of what that might look like. So one that popped up that you mentioned before was project management.
You might say, okay, as a business project management is a key skill for us when it’s working well, or there’s a plan in place. Our clients are informed, we’re hitting our milestones, and we deliver on time and in budget.
Nicole Dyson: Yeah, and you could even delineate those down further by saying the plan looks like this, it’s housed in this location and it’s accessible by these people and it’s done like this and on time means that it’s within 10 percent above or 10 percent below of like the deadline and, the client is happy, as evidenced by, you know, X, Y, and Z. Everybody is under their time allocation, in the sense that I think, you know, how are they managing or toggling time or whatever project management software you’re using, like you’re tracking it there. So then, yes, like when you zoom out, like this is what success looks like, but then the evidence of that success should be able to be found in these locations.
But I think more than that, Kate, it’s also about coming back to how does that feel when it’s working well? So organizationally, like I have a workload that’s achievable within the time that I’m given it. I feel a sense of success and completion with my team as opposed to maybe angry and frustrated because I’ve had to pick stuff up.
And so I think you can also take it on an emotional level about how it impacts on the culture of the organization when this isn’t working well as well.
Kate Peardon: I think it’s making that really radically transparent for the team.
So, what is next for you in Future Anything? Every time I talk to you, you’re like, “Oh, we’re ticking along.” And then there’s bigger and better and more awards and more people impacted and learning new skillsets and more confidence being built.
What’s the next horizon?
Nicole Dyson: Yeah, look, there’s a few really interesting things at play for us. Like, as I was saying to you, I’m heading back to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks. We’re a part of an international research project around best practice and impact led entrepreneurship. So, you know, there’s a consortium of nine providers.
We’re the only provider outside the EU that’s involved in this piece of work, which is super awesome. And we’re actually looking at what would best practice capacity building look like for educators in this space? What would best practice curriculum look like? What would best practice impact and measurement look like?
So that’s quite exciting to work at a global level around, what this can look like and then provide some, you know, really tangible resourcing that supports educators internationally to be able to do their best work. So that’s really cool.
And then I think personally, I’m really deep in the rabbit hole around which capabilities are most critical.
So this conversation is, is super interesting to me because I think a lot of people, particularly in education, you know, we’ve got the general capabilities. We’ve got 21st century skills, we’ve got oll of this stuff and they’re all called different things and, you know, some will claim there’s like 11 you need to focus on and others have got like 15 and I just have this belief that, if we can get down to a core number of five capabilities, the combination of those capabilities being built really deliberately, the product of that is agency of young people.
And it’s interesting to think about that from a workplace point of view as well. If you have five critical capabilities that you know are critical for your organization, and you deliberately build them so that every person on your team has confidence across those capabilities, I think that’s where you have agency and maybe you don’t have that dependence that we spoke about before.
So, I’m really trying to work out like if we just strip away the noise and if we get back to the stuff that’s most important, and then how do we build toolkits for teachers so that they can feel confident themselves in those capabilities. Because if you don’t feel creative, You can’t teach creativity and this is an interesting reflection for leaders, like if you can’t feel creative, you can’t foster creativity.
If you don’t have strong project management skills, it’s going to be really difficult for you to cultivate project management in others. So there is that sense of starting with self and building confidence and then actually doing the transformation work.
Kate Peardon: And if you’ve listened today and thought, I have a child that would love to have this program in their school, I’m going to have a guess and they reach out to Future Anything website.
Same as if you’re an educator, I think I would love to have this tool set as something that I can work with my students on Future Anything website.
Nicole Dyson: And the same for corporate And as we’ve discovered these skills are skills, it’s not about age. And with how it’s done within a business, in a school and in life, it’s all still relevant.
Kate Peardon: So if you’re looking for those skill sets, the Future Anything.
Nicole Dyson: I think, Kate, at the end of the day, like the people that are in our workplaces where students once, right? So if the gaps existed within their education in school, then we have a responsibility as leaders within our organization to try and cultivate that greatness, and those that work with us.
Kate Peardon: And if we don’t, they’re going to lead us one day. And then we’ll have regrets.
Nicole Dyson: I’ll tell you what, like some of the young people I work with keep me to account. So, I’m pretty excited about the world that sits in front of us with some of these young people in leadership positions, I think, we’re going to be okay.
Kate Peardon: Thank you. And thank you for everything you’re doing to help make that. So thanks for being here and for the invitation.
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