The skills you need and the price you’ll pay

Though the world is becoming increasingly networked and online, there are still people working the way they’ve worked for the last few decades. Maybe they’re comfortable working that way, or afraid of changing, or simply don’t know what to do. Maybe they can hang on and everything will be okay. Or not.

“What’s a hashtag?”

It might be tempting to poke fun at people who don’t understand the basics of tools used by hundreds of millions of people. It reminds me of having to explain “double-click” to novice computer users a few decades ago. But it’s not a laughing matter, because the stakes are high both for individuals and the organizations they work in.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, founder of a company that helps people leverage social media, wrote a blog post last week asking a question I’ve had for a while: “Why don’t people understand social web 101 already?”

“Is the networked social world so radically unlike everything that’s ever existed before that it’s unreasonable to expect people to pay attention and experiment a little?”

“Today’s critical digital workforce skills”

Even the most conservative companies have (or are developing) a digital strategy that requires their workforce to be familiar with modern ways of working and collaborating.

In a post yesterday, Dion Hinchliffe, author and business strategist, listed the following skills as “critical digital workforce skills.”

Today's Digital Workforce Skills

Today's Digital Workforce Skills

In a separate post, he noted that more companies are looking to build those skills.

“Digital skills such as “Working Out Loud” are now being taught to knowledge workers to support what the tools can do now. I suspect 2015 will be a breakout year for the adoption of new digital skills such as this."

Universities too are helping people build these skills. For example, there’s a course in Northwestern’s Master’s Program that cites working out loud circles.

How much will it cost you?

Here’s the incredible part. Developing the skills is free. You can practice using public tools or social tools in your firm. There are numerous free guides and even peer support groups.

Yet too many people aren't making any effort to “pay attention and experiment a little," to learn how to use basic Internet tools and practices at work.

For those people, the opportunity cost is high. And getting higher.