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Global Leadership Academy (GLA)

An online talent development program that builds self-awareness, skills, & career clarity through innovative exercises & on-demand coaching

Photo of Joel Nicholson
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CONTENTS

0. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. THE SITUATION

2. PROBLEM DEFINITION

3. EXISTING PRODUCTS/SERVICES

4. OUR IDEA — FIRST ATTEMPTS

5. OUR IDEA — CURRENT VERSION

6. OUR IDEA — FUTURE VERSION 

7. USER JOURNEY

8. PROTOTYPES & FEEDBACK

9. DATA, RESEARCH & METHODOLOGY

10. POTENTIAL PARTNERS

11. WHY OPEN IDEO?

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0. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
An overview of our idea and vision

The career landscape is undergoing profound change; but our educational model isn't keeping up. Academia is stuck in the information age, where learning is still focused on theoretical concepts and knowledge in a specific period of time — and not enough on developing core skills and self-awareness over a learner’s lifetime.

The problem is 28% of 18-24 year olds say they are self-aware (Source: GLA Research); and less than 50% of organizations believe college grads are prepared for their jobs (Source: PayScale). College career centres and career coaches are in a unique position to provide this type of education. However, these industries are incredibly siloed and fragmented, without a common pedagogical framework or platform being used.

Our mission at GLA is to offer world-class career development services to college students and career professionals, for free to users, and 100% online / on-demand. Our platform is focused on developing self-awareness, skills, and career clarity through our innovative online exercises, and post-program coaching support. Career coaching is an incredibly impactful process. Like any process, certain aspects of it can be automated online, while others must require a personalized touch. We currently distribute it through schools, with the vision of becoming the world's largest and most effective career centre. We hope to offer the same platform in the future to young professionals through organizations. 

In terms of impact, our students see a tremendous benefit taking our program, and there is an opportunity to replicate and expand at scale. In an era of cost-reductions, many universities are looking for new ways to offer unique services at affordable prices. In addition, the rapid increase of online and alternative educational institutions create a demand for an online career services model (for both MOOC students and distance-learners at college). 

With access to your own private career coach, imagine the possibilities of what you could achieve? Let's make these possibilities a reality with GLA.

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1. THE SITUATION
What's today's landscape look like?

The career landscape is more complex than ever before. Just 29% of recent grads are engaged in their roles and just 50% plan to be with their company one year from now (Source: Gallup). On the employer side, less than half believe college grads are prepared for their jobs, and that they lack critical thinking skills, attention to detail, writing, and public speaking the most (Source: PayScale).

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Higher education, on the other hand, hasn't evolved as significantly. Curricula are widely made up of subject-based courses, such as "Advanced Topics in Marketing" or "New Age Philosophy". Students are granted credits for knowing the topic after a semester-long course, and a series of exams and assignments. However, studies show that students forget more than 90% of what they learned just a month after they take a class (Source: Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve).

Why is this? Because we don't use the majority of knowledge learned at school on a frequent enough basis to recall it. We do, however, use skills everyday - such as communication, problem solving, collaboration, and creativity. These "hard- and soft-skills" are hopeful indirect pedagogical outcomes in academia. However, based on the statistics from employers, these hopes aren't a reality. Skills must be taught directly, and embedded in an individual through everyday practice.

For example, IDEO teaches its creative process to its employees, and it is only after this process is used everyday for a number of months and years that the skill can be developed. It's a similar situation in the management consulting industry. Firms like McKinsey teach a problem solving process, an effective communication process, and more, then consultants are able to build and ingrain these skills through everyday practice.

The same thing must be done in education. 

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In addition, self-awareness isn't sufficiently incorporated in today's curricula. Self-discovery is an essential starting point in one's educational journey. It helps the individual understand their strengths, weaknesses, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. This allows the individual to know where to focus their career, which opportunities to say yes or no to, what they can uniquely offer in the world, and how to work effectively with others. It also increases confidence and decreases anxiety in individuals. A recent study by Korn Ferry even demonstrates a significant relationship between employee self-awareness and organizational performance (Source: Korn Ferry). We also conducted an extensive study on self-awareness, and  94% of young professionals surveyed say that knowing more about themselves (e.g. strengths, work style, weaknesses, etc.) would help them be more engaged and effective in their role (Source: GLA Research).

From a student perspective, a survey over the past three years of over ten thousand students rated counselling and support as one of the top five factors students sought out of a prospective university (Source: UniversityHub).

In conclusion, we must incorporate self-discovery and skills into one's education in order to build a professionals who are effective and fulfilled in their careers.

At the same time, career coaching is a $1b industry in the US alone, growing at 18% per year. More and more people need the personal guidance from career coaches, but with a $500 median cost per hour and an average duration of 7-12 months, these services are limited to executives and the upper-class (Source: HBR). The industry is highly fragmented, and needs a platform with a common methodology, great coaches, a consistent brand, and solid partnerships to get beyond this level.


2. PROBLEM DEFINITION
What’s the overarching question being asked?

Please see below for our interpretation of the challenge question, in addition to specific definitions of key terms. 

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3. EXISTING PRODUCTS/SERVICES
What's out there, and why isn't it sufficient?

There are products and services that are offered today to solve this problem:

  • College Career Coaches. College career coaches are invaluable for guiding students towards effective academic and career performance. More and more students need this service, but with an average staff-to-student ratio of 1:1,000, the current career centre model isn’t designed to meet this demand.   Career coaches need a more automated tool to assist them with their coaching process; and students need a program that’s online and on-demand. 
  • Career Assessment Tools (Sokanu, StrengthsFinder). Traditional career assessment tools are very "one-way". Users take a brief assessment, and are given a set of recommendations for their career. However, they rarely understand the "why" behind these results. Very few programs build a users' understanding of their character, feelings, motives, and desires - which is essential in building self-awareness. 
  • Mentors. Numerous startups have attempted to create an online mentor:mentee platform, and it's been proven that young people want to obtain guidance via digital. However, there are never enough mentees to devote the efforts necessary to scale the mentorship model for free. The business model must involve some sort of financial compensation for the mentor.


4. OUR IDEA — FIRST ATTEMPTS
Where did we begin?

It's important to look back to see where an idea originated. Our journey has been a long and arduous one, but each chapter was a key stepping stone to arriving where we are today.

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5. OUR IDEA — CURRENT VERSION (GLA 3.0)
What do we believe will work for the user and as a business?

GLA 3.0 is a career development program that builds self-awareness and career clarity through a simple online program, and on-demand coaching.

The Program. The program takes 30-40 minutes to complete. There are three modules, each have a introductory video, an exercise, a reflection video and question, and a downloadable one-page report. The three modules are: (1) Your Interests - which helps the student clarify their passions; (2) Your Career Orientation - which helps the student understand their career needs and motivations; and, (3) Your Strengths - which helps the student understand their unique mix of competencies.

We use this information to recommend the student "Career Tracks", a list of nearly 100 "paths" a student can take that combine their interests, values, and strengths. These include anything from Media Planning, to Recruitment & Onboarding, to Microfinance. These career track recommendations provide students with a very tangible outcome from the program, which was a critical requirement for users based on previous feedback.

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Target Customer. We've shifted markets to focus on helping current college/ university students, particularly those interested in pursuing careers in any business-related field. Investing in self-awareness is something very few people will do for themselves; and as we found through GLA 2.0, the incentives aren't aligned for organizations to willingly invest in self-awareness and career education to young employees. 

Educational institutions, on the other hand, have the development of their students in their best interest. College career centres, in particular, often provide services and access to platforms such as GLA Discover. With the rise of online learning, universities and colleges will need to start providing their remote learners with career centre services -- which is a perfect opportunity for GLA.

Value proposition:

  • For students: Students need a tremendous amount of support throughout school— building self-awareness, staying motivated as a student, choosing the right career, and succeeding in that career after school
  • For career centres: They need a tool that helps them have more effective coaching conversations, or helps offer coaching services to students who won't come see them (ideally online and on-demand)
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Target User. While our target audience are current university students, the Discover program can also be offered to recent alumni (i.e. the 50% who change jobs after two years). We plan to discuss this with career centres, offering the program to alumni free of charge. 

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Overall, what we're looking to do with this new iteration is use what we've learned in the past to establish three forms of "fit":

  1. Product/market fit: the product suits the needs of the customer/consumer
  2. Founder/product fit: we have the experience & insights to build a great product 
  3. Founder/market fit: we have the connections and network to sell the product 


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Today's Hypothesis. In this iteration, we're also very focused on proving/disproving two primary hypotheses. We're staying hyper-focused with these initial hypotheses.

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6. OUR IDEA — FUTURE VISION
What's the potential of our idea?

Our vision is to build GLA into the world's largest college career centre— 100% online. Our focus will be to support the development of self-awareness, skills, and career clarity in our students, over the course of their education and career. We'll provide a comprehensive repository of online modules to support this, along with on-demand access to a mix of AI-based chatbots and real-world career coaches for supplemental support.

We'll work so closely with our partner institutions that our courses will become embedded into their curricula, and pre-requisites for graduation. We'll be Coursera and Udemy's exclusive online career centre, as well as provide career centre services to the tens of millions of online learning students around the world.

We'll prove that our program goes beyond increasing self-awareness, career clarity, and skills development. We'll obtain clear and compelling data that it improves student happiness, extra-curricular participation, grades, job acquisition rates, career effectiveness, and employee engagement.

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In order to achieve this vision, we must work towards the following goals:

i) More Modules. We must build more modules to support our users over the course of their education and careers. These modules will be a mix of self-awareness training (e.g. personality type, strengths, etc.) and skills development (e.g. creativity, problem solving). 

ii) Online, 24/7 Mentorship. There will always be an element of career coaching that cannot be automated online. We must build a part of our platform that facilitates this. We also hope to leverage AI and chatbot technology to help our coaches answer common questions more rapidly, while still maintaining a "human feel" for the end-user. 

iii) New Buyers. We'd like to eventually expand our network of customers, from just college career centres to companies and government. Companies, such as Lee Hecht Harrison, are interested in using our product for employee career transition and outplacement. Even organizations, such as Google, want to provide career coaching services without having to hire additional internal staff. Government labour service agencies would also be able to leverage our product to help their clients find and perform in their jobs.


7. USER JOURNEY
What are users saying?

Please see our completed user journey template in the following external attachment: User Journey Slides.


8. PROTOTYPES & FEEDBACK 
What are users saying?

We're using two prototypes to inform feedback for the build of the GLA 3.0 Discover program:

The six modules in GLA Discover 2.0

- Prototype 1: GLA Discover 2.0
  Jul-Nov 2016
This was the second version of the Discover program online, built more specifically for early-stage career professionals. We had over 100 students, young professionals, and experts take the program, 18 of which completed our feedback form online (External Attachment: GLA 2.0 Feedback Results).

Some of the key insights:

  • On average, GLA 2.0 was rated 8.6/10 for overall experience.
  • Two most popular modules were Career Orientation (9.1/10) and Strengths (9.0/10)
  • On average, user experience and site design was rated 9.2/10


Some written feedback:

  • "Overall, I thought it was a very reflective experience that allowed me to realize not only my strengths and weaknesses, but what I valued and how it relates to my career."
  • "This program is extremely beneficial for youth. Great insights into more complex modalities and frameworks done in an accessible fashion."
  • "Love the visuals, how everything flows. I would like a conclusion at the end, just like there was an intro. The conclusion at the end should summarize what just happened, and hopefully provide some guidance or be personalized for me."
  • "I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but just wanted to throw in that this would be a great exercise for graduating university/college students."
  • "Another potential future addition (depending on the audience) could be examples of careers that exercise the highlighted skills and values. After receiving the feedback, the first thing I did was to go on google and search the types of jobs that matched my personality."
  • "Not sure what your plans are for evolving the program further, but I suggest outlining career paths in various industries based on the results of the assessment and a generated program certificate of completion would provide the user with next steps and a resume building certification."



- Prototype 2: Student Coaching Clients
  Nov-Dec 2016
I've coached 27 students,  over the past three months, on university selection and career clarity (1-on-1, via phone calls and text). This is a paid service outside of GLA; but I used this opportunity to prototype the GLA Discover 3.0 framework. I verbally took them through the three modules (interests, values, strengths), and recommended a "career track", ranging from product managers in the healthcare industry to equity research analysts in the banking sector. 

Student Feedback:

  • "Thank you so much for your support over the last few months on my application. I learned a lot about myself, and became incredibly specific about my future career direction."
  • "Joel, before speaking with you I felt lost and unmotivated. My brother put us in touch because he thought you could help. And at first, I was really skeptical. But your process helped simplify this really complex decision about where to take my career, so thank you!"
  • "I now have a bit more focus of where to start my career search, and I believe I'll perform better in my interviews after learning a bit more about my strengths and motivations."


- Prototype 3: Excel Model.
  Jan 2017

Before revising the online web application, I built the new 3.0 program in an Excel Model, and tested it rigorously with 15 friends and students who I had previously coached. The purpose of this was to test the accuracy of the career track recommendations. Only one person said their career track recommendations were inaccurate.

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- Prototype 4: Live Web App
  Feb-Mar 2017

We're launching the Discover 3.0 live online Monday Feb 27th. We have pilots arranged with Venture for Canada, University of Toronto, and various other student organizations. We'll ask 

GLA Discover 3.0, now built and prototyping
Simple question to assess quality of program - after which the user can provide written feedback

9. DATA, RESEARCH & METHODOLOGY
What's under the hood, and how will it be improved?

How does this program directly help students become more effective and satisfied in their chosen career path? Our career path recommendations are driven by real-world data on career professionals. We surveyed over 1,000 professionals who consider themselves "effective" in their careers. We assessed their strengths, values, and interests in the survey, as well as their happiness and fulfillment in their current roles. 

How did we come up with the strengths and career orientation frameworks? Respondents from the aforementioned survey also took a comprehensive strengths and motivations assessment. We conducted a factor analysis to find meaningful clusters of shared variance. In other words, we wanted to see which strengths and career motivations contributed the strongest to their career effectiveness and fulfillment. This allowed us to arrive upon our competency and career orientation frameworks.

How will we leverage user data to improve our platform over time? Incorporating a direct feedback process is very important. For example, when users complete the program, they have the opportunity to tell us if the program objectively improved their self-awareness and career clarity. They also have the opportunity to ask us any questions through our on-demand coaching services. This is an important way we intend to build our knowledge base of the questions students are asking, which will then be incorporated into more and better modules, as well as an AI-driven chatbot career coach. 

We'll also use the information about how users complete our assessments. Currently, our strengths assessment asks 60 questions, but through a categorical principal components analysis, we can eventually dwindle that down to 2-3 questions with a 99% confidence level. This means we become better at understanding people over time. 

How will we leverage user data to help our clients? A user's activity on our platform can help inform a students' engagement and drop-out likelihood. For the students who are using our program, we are able to generate profound insights through building deep psychological profiles on students. For example, what types of students end up being the most successful in the program? What services can be offered at the university to best support specific types of students? What types of students leave their companies the most? What skills are some students missing that others aren't? These are all critical insights that help universities offer more personalized, effective programming.

10. POTENTIAL PARTNERS
Who's likely to buy it?

The previous version of GLA wasn't built for students, but it organically caught the attention of student-focused conferences and universities. We provided access to GLA 2.0 to a variety of organizations, including:

  • 100 undergraduate students from Rotman School of Management + workshop
  • 75 prospective students at Queen's University's QLEAD conference
  • 20 prospective accounting professions through the Certified Professional Accountant Ontario organization
  • 15 future Wall Street banking professionals through the Wall Street Oasis program, funded by V2V Associates
  • 25 young professionals through the Millennial Crusaders organization in Toronto


In the future, we also hope to offer the program through career transition organizations (such as Lee Hecht Harrison), and other career centres / agencies at school and government.

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11. WHY OPEN IDEO?
Why are we participating in this challenge?

Last, but certainly not least, why are we doing this challenge? I first learned about OPEN IDEO in February 2014. Since then, I've been waiting for an education challenge to be released. I also wanted the timing of GLA to be right. For the past six years, my main focus was UniversityHub, an edtech start-up I sold in November 2016. Now, the timing is right to focus on crystallizing the GLA idea and taking it to market.

Over the past couple years with GLA, our design thinking process could have been more rigorous, so this is an effort to really specify what we do, test our current hypothesis, receive an extraordinary amount of feedback, facilitate sales opportunities, and crystallize the "future vision" of GLA.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

GLA is designed for college students and career centres. It reimagines higher-ed because it flips the traditional model of academia on its head. We help college students and alumni develop their self-awareness and skills over their lifetime, as the career landscape changes. The program is provided for free to students and affordably to colleges, without the need to a large number of career coaches on staff.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Feedback! The more the better. Please email hello@gla.academy, and we will set you up with a free license to go through the 30-40 minute program.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The latest version of the program helps — primarily undergraduate business students — identify their interests, values, strengths, and career specialty areas. Prior to building it online, I have been testing our methodology and framework with students that I help with college admissions applications.

Tell us about your work experience:

I worked with global management consultancy AT Kearney for five years, across three continents. I then moved back to Canada to focus on my edtech company, UniversityHub, which uses data and algorithms to help prospective university students make more informed decisions about post-secondary. I've also coached over 500 students, worked with the World Economic Forum, published a report for AT Kearney on Rethinking K-12 Education, and was a spokesperson for HSBC Canada on youth financial literacy.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

With an ever-changing career landscape, students need an education that transcends college and career life, rather than courses that last a few months. GLA is an online career development program that helps students enhance their self-awareness, grow their skills, and get the career they want. It's offered through college career centres for students and alumni, and is proven to increase employability and lower job-switching rates.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

The vast majority of college students have low levels of self-awareness and career clarity, which places strain on career centre staff, and leads to disengaged, job-hopping alumni.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

- Proprietary Methodology. The methodology is research-backed and very effective at building self-awareness and career clarity in students. It’s our “secret sauce” that cannot be replicated
- Superior UX. We’ve built a video-based and visually stimulating platform with a simple, mobile-optimized assessment
- Hyper-targeted. Most career assessments are very broad in scope. Instead, our assessment is hyper-targeted for helping college career centres better prepare business career professionals

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Upon completion of the program, users are asked a single question: “How helpful was this program at clarifying your career direction?”

Our mission is to improve student happiness, student academic performance, job acquisition rates, job-switching tendencies, and overall career happiness, so we intend to measure these metrics with future clients, before and after they use the program.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

Our program is highly scalable, as it’s online and automated. The key to scalability is sales adoption. We believe the most-likely buyers aren’t students, employers, or parents, but rather college/university career centres. They have the budget to purchase our program, and their incentives match our program's purpose: developing self-aware, career-ready professionals. Each career centre signed-up can lead to thousands of student users in just a single year, with minimal to no marketing effort.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

April: Iterate product, and reach out to college 100+ career centres to secure pilots
May-June: Conduct pilots with 5-10 college career centres (students and/or staff)
July-August: Sign-up at least 3 schools to use program in career centres; Complete final round of product refinements. It's essential to get in the door with the customer, then we'll build out the vision of the product.
September-December: Roll-out program, focus on sales & support

56 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Yangsin Lau-Vazquez
Team

Hello Joel!

I think this could be a fantastic tool for college students entering the work force and those who are in the work force haven't unlocked their truest work potential. There was one portion of your idea that had me thinking and that was the sustainability of a platform over a longer period of time. I understand from your refinement that additional modules, mentoring, and new partners will help grow the platform, but I wanted to toss around the question of what about these tools, or perhaps additional support, will keep users on-board (either contributing or participating) for longer than their first few visits. Since the platform seems more oriented to strengthening the participants strengths, there could be potential to also continue to grow their weaknesses by offering shorter, more succinct modules based on their tertiary or even their weakest career orientation. This could help diversify a participants skill set or even help them understand their colleagues to better understand the business landscape as a whole.

A final thought: if your target demographic is the engaged college student or the job hopping alumni, will there then be a means of seeing the cycle through and helping begin more permanent job-placement efforts?

Best of luck!
Yangsin

Photo of Zhao Chen
Team

Hi Joel,

I personally felt related to your idea -coming from a high school of 3000 students and currently attending a college that houses over 25,000 undergraduates, I sometimes believed that my school lacks helpful resources to guide me in choosing a career path or just simply finding the right class to take. I am particular interested in learning more about your program and have some questions regarding the assessment of the effectiveness of the implementation. As you mentioned on this page, the program takes 30 - 40 minutes to complete, I was wondering if there is any technology implementation to detect students' engagement? In other words, how do we know if users are truly paying attention? I know personally, sometimes it is hard to focus in that long period of time, especially when I am staring at the computer. Also, how often do users receive one-to-one session and how many students will each mentor get? As much I enjoy the idea, I am worried that a virtual platform lacks the human interaction that we get when we meet someone in real life.

Lastly, I also thought about people who do not choose to pursue the traditional college career route. There are many people decide to join the army, to start their own business etc. Do you have any thoughts on developing programs catering to that demographic?

Best of Luck,

Sundy

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi Sundy, I really appreciate you taking the time to read about GLA, and providing such thought-provoking comments.

While the program takes 30-40 minutes to complete, only about 15 minutes of that is the user answering multiple choice questions. The rest is watching our intro and reflection videos, reading the report, and journalling on what the user learned from each module. It's quite interactive and engaging based on our previous set of users who have gone through.

Your other question was about how often users receive one-to-one sessions with coaches. The intention is for this service to eventually be on-demand, whenever a student needs it. First, we'll have to see how many students will use something like this, and the frequency, so we can keep it economical for us and the customer.

Regarding the personalization of text-based career coaching, it's a fair concern. I've coached students a lot via text, and they seem to be fine with it. There's definitely times when we pick up the phone and chat, but overall it's much more effective then them booking a session, since they're so used to instant access to other things in their life (i.e. Netflix). Note our platform is a complement to career centres and their career coaches, rather than a substitute, so hopefully there will always be the regular option of booking a meeting and seeing a coach in person.

Great idea about approaching the army. I'm definitely going to look into this one, as I know many young veterans have some challenges figuring out what to do after their time of service.

Photo of Priscilla
Team

Hi Joel,
This sounds like a fantastic idea. As a college student close to graduating, I wish i had more career clarity when I started out. I think the career coaches are an excellent idea, but I was wondering if you had thought about creating opportunities for the students to meet various individuals from a wide range of occupations- like an online professional speed-date or convention? Sometimes students get cornered into one career path before they've seen all the options.
I think this is a great plan and I wish you all the luck!

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi Priscilla, that's a great idea! I definitely agree students aren't open enough to other options, simply because they either don't know they exist, or they don't think those other options are a good fit for them - when many times they are a better fit. Appreciate any more ideas you have.

Photo of Leah Edwards
Team

Thank you for sharing so much of your story about evolving GLA.
I like that you are simplifying your value proposition.

Since I haven't yet looked at the system, I'm still a bit confused about how self-awareness directly connects to getting a satisfying job. (Conceptually, it makes sense, but I'm interested in what the specific actions are.) Once the students understand what they are likely to be most interested in, is there a way to correlate their interests to phrases that are likely to come up in job descriptions? Even after many years in the workforce, I have a hard time interpreting job descriptions and understanding what personality types would be a good fit and/or what a career path might be from a given job.

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi Leah, thank you so much for your valuable comment. After students take the program, they are recommended a number of "Career Tracks" that best suit them. For example, a student might get the career track "Diversity & Inclusion" as their top-choice. Many students won't know what this means, or where in an organization this specialty resides. However, in our descriptions, we do a good job of providing that information. I'd also like to include "example job titles" within each career track, where our users can click them and it would take you to a job search site for those titles. I'm open to more ideas, as this is really important.

Photo of Dan-Ah
Team

Hi Joel,

The GLA 3.0 model seems quite thorough and since it's based upon two previous models and their successes, I feel like it has some solid grounds. As an undergraduate senior myself, I definitely felt like my school lacked helpful resources to help guide myself and other students in choosing careers outside of what most students go into. The self-reflection and assessment part of the app will really help students take a moment to think about whether or not they're interested in pursuing a specific career because that's where their passion lies or whether it is because everyone else is doing it. I feel like the latter is the case usually for students, which is why there is such a high number of students who switch jobs within the first year. I am curious though how the career coaching services would work seamlessly or be integrated with the university career centers. Not all universities have the resources or connections to help students interested in very specific job functions to get opportunities in that area. Would the results of the assessments be for the students' own resource and understanding? Or would those results be of value to employers in the sense that would students who, for example got results that they would thrive in an equity research position, have a better chance of getting an interview in that position over another student whose interests are also in equity research but got results from the assessment that they're better suited for accounting? Would the goal of this initiative be to help students find what they like from straight out of college so that they could stay in their jobs longer? Or would it be simply to let students reflect and learn more about themselves? I hope these questions give some food for thought!

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi Dan-Ah, it's always invaluable hearing from current students - so thank you for taking the time to read about GLA and provide your comments. You hit the nail on the head when you said "Not all universities have the resources or connections to help students interested in very specific job functions." Our vision with the career coaching services is to have a large number of alumni from various job functions coaching students part-time, as well as an AI chatbot that would answer a lot of the questions we're getting the most frequently.

The results of the assessment, initially, are meant for the student. That's our primary focus right now, and perhaps down the road, we could start working with employers to select the right students - but I believe that's a whole separate thing. The goal is absolutely to help place students in the best careers, at the right companies, with the right culture and manager, so they can be effective and fulfilled with what they do.

Photo of Fahad Jamal
Team

Hi Joel,

As a soon to be college graduate with a number of friends with corporate jobs, this tool definitely interests me. To begin, I think this is a great idea in helping students find opportunities that are great fits for their interests. You mention in the writeup that many students lack the critical thinking skills to really succeed in the workplace. What I have seen is that many high achieving, intelligent students find themselves in high paying jobs where they do not need to do much critical thinking. These students would be happier taking lower paying jobs, but finding ways to justify a step like that for many is difficult. Will you be working to help connect these high achieving students with opportunities that they may have not considered? Working in a way similarly to programs like Venture for America?

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi Fahad, thanks for your comment and question. From my understanding of your situation, you've had friends who have chosen jobs because of a high salary, and many are left unsatisfied with the work they are doing. I'll tell you a little bit about why this happens. At GLA, we've found people have specific "needs" in their work. When you're in a situation where one or more of these needs is unmet for an extended period of time, it becomes disproportionately important - which is the worst time to be making decisions like what to do for a career.

As this relates to money, most students don't have an excessive amount of capital lying around. So, when the are living like this for a long period of time, their perceived "need" for money becomes disproportionately important to them. That's why many people decide to pursue a career with high-paying salaries, and don't consider many other factors, because their other needs are either currently being satisfied, or are overshadowed by their need for money.

Definitely one of the missions with this program is to help students who have "tunnel vision" for jobs with immediately high paying salaries, consider other options, where they will be more effective and fulfilled. In the long-run, this will often end in them making just as much - if not more - money than if they were in a role that wasn't a good fit for their talents or motivations.

We've done work for Venture for Canada, so I'll reach out to Venture for America as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

Photo of Kate Rushton
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Hi Joel,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

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Thanks Kate!

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Joel - I've always been a strong proponent of teaching public speaking to young professionals. Very few people are natural born public speakers; this is a skill that can be learned and in today's competitive business world, it's essential to be able to pitch your idea to others and communicate effectively in the workplace. We see schools focusing on the written aspect of communication, but you rarely see required courses on how to deliver a presentation in a confident and effective way.

I'm very happy to see your program is focusing on these type of soft skills as they will be essential regardless of what type of career one chooses.

Best,
Nahel

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Hi Nahel, interesting point. I definitely agree about the presentation skills. I'd love to incorporate this into the GLA program at some point in the future, via short mini-exercises students do every few days. Perhaps they have to film a video and send it to their career coach about an interview question, and the coach rates them and gives feedback on their body language, tone, speed, clarity of content, etc.

Think that would be a good idea? I know that during university, I maybe presented 10 times over four years, which helped, but didn't radically improve my public speaking abilities. It's only when you do something like Toastmasters (every week) where you start to see an improvement.

Thanks for your comment and insights. Keep them coming.

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Joel - That's precisely the point I'm trying to make. The only place where I see some emphasis to incorporate public speaking courses to the required curriculum are business schools and I still think they do not go deep enough. Just like any other skill, it's important to practice it until it is mastered. The importance of this arena is reflected by the following article on Warren Buffett: "The only diploma billionaire Warren Buffett displays in his office is from a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course. “I was terrified of public speaking in high school and college. I couldn’t do it,” Buffett once told the BBC. “I don’t have my diploma from college or from graduate school, but I have my Dale Carnegie diploma there because it changed my life.”

I would like to point you in the direction of Prof. Matt Abrahams at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAnw168huqA) he talks about the many tools one could use to become a more effective speaker. You could try to incorporate some of this techniques into the GLA program.

Best,
Nahel

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Joel - interesting idea! We've pivoted a number of times, too - man, it can be both exhilarating and exhausting to constantly be tinkering and rethinking.

Question for ya re: how Open IDEO can help. Who are your target higher-ed customers? What's your value prop to them currently?

Best,
Sarah

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Hi Sarah, thanks so much for reading my idea. I'm making some significant edits to it offline, and will post an update (hopefully) tomorrow night! I'll be sure to address your question more fully tomorrow, and reference something within the idea page. Thank you :)

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You got it! Best of luck :)

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Hi Sarah Saxton-Frump - sorry for the delay! I'm still working through I've thought a lot about your question. IDEO is the best in the world at designing products that satisfy deep human needs. The issue we're tackling is grandiose, and you'll notice in the "First Attempts" section, I have a history with GLA of trying to do too much (e.g. GLA 1.0). So your team would be invaluable in helping me hone the product.

Our target higher-ed customers are college career centres. Our value prop is twofold. For the students, our tool helps develop their self-awareness and career clarity, answering pressing questions like "what am I interested in", "what careers should I pursue", and "what are my strengths".

For the career centres, it will prevent the need to hire more career coaches, as this tool is meant to be a platform to support, and automate aspects of the the career coaching process. It will also cultivate more career-ready and fulfilled alumni, because they are more aware about themselves, and confident about their career direction.

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Awesome! Sounds like you're headed to clarity.

If I can distill it down even more, it sounds like your value prop to colleges is essentially: we'll help you coach more students more effectively for less money?

And I imagine it's not the college career centres of top-tier schools, yes? More mid-range schools that would benefit from a growing, successful alumni base (and rising completion rates)? It could be interesting to see how y'all can align your tool to general university outcomes so they see the value it could bring beyond simply improving career counseling.

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Sometimes it takes someone looking outside-in to really distill things :) I love how beautifully simple you put the value prop - that's exactly it! I hope you don't mind if I use that in the idea summary.

I think you might be right with the mid-range schools. Many mid-range schools don't have career coaches at all in their career centres, so this type of platform would be ideal for starting to offer the service.

I definitely think there could be other outcomes associated with more coaching -- academic performance increases, fewer dropouts, even job acquisition.

Thanks for continuing to push the thinking on this Sarah!

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Go for it! It's dorky, but I really do think we all build better programs / platforms / services when we can help each other out.

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Hi Joel, Good idea and there is a real need for such a service not just for students but also to other target groups. Had you considered
1) Returners - individuals returning to the workplace after 2 years off (career break/travelling the world, raising kids). There are lots of homemakers out there itching to return to professions and most government offer both training and employment incentives. You might link in with your local gov labour office on this.
2) Redundancies - those in the unfortunate position of being let go and having to re-evaluate their career pathways.
You might think laterally in terms of target groups and derivatives of the product. There are many ways to re-skin a product but it has to be well through through and executed.

3) I would like to really understand the value add for the graduate/job seeker. It is no easy task to simulate career coaching online. I myself do a lot of face to face. How do you provide an authentic blend of interaction and real value to the end user experience.

I wouldn't mind testing it for you. It is an area that I am neck deep in at the moment.

Regards,
Ruth

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Hi Ruth, I'm very grateful to have feedback from such a devoted career coach. I've added you on LinkedIn to keep in touch and help provide feedback as our 3.0 version is launched.

Your points about returners and redundancies are very interesting. I'll definitely look into which government agency offers these types of services. For the redundancies, in your experience, are these redundancy packages offered to young employees too? This is a huge potential market. I'll edit my idea to include both. Thanks again, and keep in touch.

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This is a great idea, Joel Nicholson ! Thank you for adding a thorough background and screenshots. I really enjoyed reading the user experience perspective, both from the career counselor side and the student side. This is something Dipanwita Das and Impact College are also thinking through as well -- and I think the distinction you've made between customer and student is very clear!

A few suggestions:

* Really great problem statement. In addition to Korn Ferry, I recommend checking out Daniel Goleman's work, if you'd like additional support for self awareness education.
* Continue to think through your impact -- there's definitely an opportunity to expand here. Check out this Theory of Change website : http://www.theoryofchange.org/what-is-theory-of-change/ for ideas on how to go about doing this. Also, when you've established what your metrics are, instead of just asking one question, why not integrate your assessment in the experience as a whole?
* What will happen after the student graduates? Will you continue to develop their self awareness, and if so, how?

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Hi Sarah, thank you so much for your insightful comments and suggestions. I've just listened to Daniel Goleman's TED Talk, and plan on listening to much more!

Your thoughts on measuring the impact are very eye-opening. I did some reading on TOC, and found it very interesting. I'd love to somehow incorporate this concept into the GLA experience for students.

Your last suggestion about helping students after graduation. I've been thinking about this. I just published the 'Future Vision' section of the idea, which may help articulate things a bit. Effectively, I'd like GLA to be an online version of a coach that guides you through certain stages of your life - which definitely includes post-grad (starting your first job, working with a challenging manager, etc.). We'd always have an automated exercise online, which would be followed up with chat-based mentorship from a career coach. Ideally this service is free of charge to alumni, but this is just the vision, and I need to discuss more with potential partners :)

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Hi Joel,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

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Hi Kate, thank you so much for the continued support. I reached out to the three individuals you mentioned earlier for feedback as well. I'll be sure to ask any questions over the next few days :)

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Amazing Joel

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Hi Joel,
I love your idea and as a student completely agree with your theories on how the lack of focus with students greatly affects their ability to look for a job they will actually like and be good at.
I was wondering how flexible is the tool and how well does it fit for people who didn't choose a career - oriented degree?
As a student in an undergraduate business school, it seems like most of my classmates are actually pretty focused on what they want to do (definitely in the short term) even if the main motivator around seems to be money. That being said, business students some times actually need those tools the least because their career path is more easily defined. How robust is the tool in helping majors who opted for a more critical thinking and academic degrees which are some times less applicable in the work force?

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Hi Tomer, really good question. I agree students pursuing non-career-oriented degrees, such as in the arts and humanities, struggle with what to do in a career after graduation. They would benefit significantly from career coaching, and some would greatly benefit from this tool.

I can't find the exact statistic, but a significant number of general arts students end up in business-related roles, be it an account manager at an advertising agency, a product manager for a healthcare startup, a recruiter for a financial services company, or a sales person for a software company.

So overall, I'd say there are four main reasons why we focused on business-related 'career track' recommendations:

1) many people end up in business-related roles, no matter their educational background
2) business is my own personal area of expertise
3) a large number of undergrad business students still go through significant struggles trying to figure out where they 'fit', without being typified in the traditional 'boxes' of accounting, marketing, etc. - they want to know what other options exist out there, and that's what we do with 'career tracks'
4) business career centres are by far the most-willing to adopt products like this

Want to take the program? Send me an email hello@gla.academy and I'd be happy to set you up with a license.

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Bettina Fliegel  - Thanks so much for reading and checking out the website. You have some good questions. Uptake with employers has been really difficult, because incentives simply aren't aligned. Employers do not want to invest in new talent, because they know they will leave in 1-2 years. In addition, HR is more and more reluctant to purchase external platforms, and would rather build in-house to avoid looking like they are outsourcing too much.

The GLA program used to teach the six competencies we believe exist (Solving, Strategizing, Influencing, Collaborating, Communicating, and Executing), but now we exclusively focus on building self-awareness in students. We have an online program that helps with this, each module focuses on a specific area: personality type, strengths, values, etc. We've had over 200 people take the online program with strong feedback, but the incentives for individuals' to invest in their own self-awareness is limited; and the incentives for organizations to do so is not aligned.

Regarding your last question, we will be now focusing on universities to provide a new version of this program to students. Schools are the one party who have the students "best interest" with regards to skills and self-awareness development top of mind.

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Hi Joel. Thanks for the information! Maybe link the website address higher in your post so others see it easily?

Why do new hires leave their positions in 1 - 2 years? I can understand why employers might hestitate to invest if this was common. On the other hand if new employees felt they were gaining skills maybe they would want to stay on?

How did you come up with the 6 competencies? Is this related to your work experience, or research? (Influencing? In what way?)

It might be beneficial to present this to students even early in their college career, so that they can get comfortable with the idea that there are a variety of skills, and a level of self awareness, that if worked at can help them move forward successfully. Perhaps they will revisit it over time? What are your ideas for marketing to students since you found out that they may not be so interested in investing in their own self awareness? Terry posted an idea about helping students to recognize what problem they want to solve, as a way for them to consider what they need and want to learn. Would this align with becoming aware of one's values? Might thinking about this self awareness early help students figure out what they want to study? Give them purpose? Might that be a way to get student buy in?
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/ideas/pick-a-problem-not-a-major

Looking forward to watching the idea develop!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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Hi Joel.
Great update! It is interesting to learn more about what you are building, and the research behind it! I think it is great to embed this within career centers in colleges.
Are you planning to propose to colleges that it be available to their alumni as well?

I wonder how a product like this might also impact non traditional students who want to go back to school and might benefit from gaining insight which can direct them as they reenter school?

I have a few questions about the updated information.
     In what way is the platform geared towards business majors? As it is focused on personality awareness isn't this applicable to all?
     In regards to your premise that a "majority of college students have low levels of self-awareness and career clarity, which places strain on career centre staff, and leads to disengaged, job-hopping alumni." Is this based on your research? Have you interviewed young people on the other end of this pattern, those who are staying at jobs, to gain insight into why?
     How does the platform connect "Your strengths" to "Your career track?" Are there practical steps given, links to resources etc.? Would a student be able to make an action plan, or take a next step after completing the platform? As the plan is to embed this in a career center it would be a great opportunity to move immediately towards action.

Exciting project!

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Hi Bettina, sorry this fell through the cracks. I'll be posting a comprehensive update shortly. Our website is www.gla.academy, and I'd link it in the main section, but it's not updated for the current program. You should definitely take our program, because I think it will answer a lot of your questions. But I can tell it will probably give you more questions, which is what we want! :)

New hires leave their position every 1-2 years because of a variety of reasons, but it can be boiled down to two main drivers: 1) they joined the role/company when it's realistically not a great fit for their strengths, values, interests - and 2) they believe something better is out there. However, without self-awareness of what they need, they will continue to job-hop. We've seen it time and time again.

Employees wouldn't stay longer just if they were gaining new skills. The key to retainment is you need to personalize what you're offering to the individual. For example, some people care a lot about growth and personal development. We call these people the 'Growers'. However, a large proportion of employees care much less about this. There isn't one factor that will help retain an employee. Everybody is different. The key is ensuring the individual enters in a role that's a good fit for them to begin with, so the employer doesn't need to cater to their needs in order to retain them. Another note, we've found employers are investing less and less into training and developing new grads, because they will inevitably leave. This is one of the reasons why we pivoted from employers to career centres at colleges.

We came up with the six competencies through top-down and bottom-up approach. Top-down was based on our experience and insights coaching. Bottom-up was based on a factor analysis having thousands of young people complete a Myers Briggs Type Indicator quiz. We were able to distill competencies into six categories. Please don't think too much about the names of these competencies. It's the strengths within them that matter. I'm happy to hop on a call and walk you through the methodology and research.

Regarding your last point, the first version of GLA was actually a school, and one of the badges students had to complete before they graduates was to 'solve a problem'. This approach resonates with a specific personality type. I personally think it would be amazing if every student had to solve a problem in the world, but for many students, they just don't think about their career or life that way. If you take the Career Orientation module in our program, this might make more sense about how we've concluded this.

Thanks for the amazing questions.

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Hi Bettina, let's definitely hop on a call and I'll discuss with you the factor analysis we did with users to develop our Competency and Career Orientation frameworks.

100% agree with you about career centres. It's our main priority now. We've had some good conversations and are looking to close our first deal in the next couple months (fingers crossed).

Yes, we'd love GLA to be available to both students and alumni. The whole idea is for this to be a lifelong career development tool. But right now, we're starting simple and focused.

You'll see a bit more why the program is geared towards future business professionals in my next update. What we found is users want a very clear output from the program, and recommending a 'career track' is a very practical insight. Also, this is the biggest question on students mind "what career do I do". The reason why I chose business was simply to tackle one discipline first. We'll hopefully evolve to other disciplines later. Also, business school career centres have the biggest budgets, so from a product-market fit perspective, it's our best starting point.

Regarding our promise. We've had young professionals take our program who not only stay in their jobs longer, but are happier and engaged in those jobs. We've found that the role and company they have chosen are very strongly aligned to their strengths, interests, and career motivations. This backward-validated our approach. Glad you asked about this.

A career track is recommended based on a combination of the users strengths, career orientation, and interests. For now, we're not focused on action plans. We just want be hyperfocused with the hypothesis we are testing, which is we can provide an enhancement of self-awareness and career clarity through our program (e.g. without human intervention). In the future, we'd love to help students "get the job" we recommend.

Please remind me to set you up with a license when GLA 3.0 goes live early next week. You'll get a better idea about how it works.

Thanks for your questions!

Photo of Kate Rushton
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Hi Joel,

Is there a link between your idea and Career Labs ?

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Interesting. There's no link, but sounds cool!

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Sorry Kate, by link I meant there isn't an affiliation between us and Career Labs :)

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Hi Noel, its exciting that you are already doing something in the Higher Ed space and you already have some great insights. Is the new pivot geared towards something specific?

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Hi Isaac, indeed the new pivot is extremely specific. We're now a career discovery and assessment tool, primarily for undergraduate business students (or more generally: future business professionals). This first post I made was quite vague, and I'm going to be uploading a revision shortly with a better description of how GLA came to be, and where I believe it's going. Thank you for your question!

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Welcome to the Refinement phase Joel! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

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Hi Joel,

I hope you are having a nice weekend.

There are two ideas from previous challenges that might be of interest:

Rightsize - a top idea from our Financial Services challenge - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-longevity/top-ideas/rightsize - it has a really nice user journey with personas based on a lot of feedback and a clear statement of its uniqueness.

Cobuy - a top idea from our Food Waste challenge - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/top-ideas/cobuy-group-buying-software-that-helps-people-buy-good-food-at-good-prices-together - has a very nicely defined problem, solution, and opportunities section and business plan (please do bear in mind that their business plan is extremely detailed).

What/who are the competitors to GLA?

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Hi Kate, thanks for posting these. I've been referring to them constantly while editing my post offline. I'll be sure to address your competitors question when submitting my next revision.

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Hi Joel,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

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This is very interesting!

I like the idea of "a mix of skills, knowledge (aka subjects), and experience in their education". Since a couple of years ago - thanks to the Internet and Moocs - I started learning without boundaries, moved by personal or society's challenges. In a sense, now I'm constantly looking for new skills, and starting from there I have understood the value of many subjects I didn't value enough in the past, although I had good grades on school (physics, chemistry, math...)

In my idea of an OPEN Media Lab I'm trying to leverage the positive impact of OPEN alternatives. It's more skill-oriented (without boundaries). I would highly appreciate any feedback.

Kind regards from Colombia,

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Hi Joel,

Thank you for sharing the Global Leadership Academy with us. Am I right in thinking that your focus is now on online training for millennials in the workplace to plug skill gaps?

What specific challenges/barriers are you facing at the moment? What are the future directions for the GLA?

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Tip: to activate links in your post, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to your Full Description field. Select the text you'd like to link, hit the link icon in the Rich Text Editor at the top of this field and enter your link. That way everyone will be able to check it out easily, straight from your post.

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Kate Rushton - Thanks for reading, and for your question. Our focus of the current program is specific to self-awareness, but I'd like to expand the program to also focus on skills development of 'foundational competencies'.

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Gregory Wilson - Thanks for the comment. Completely agree about T-shaped education. The top of that T should be a foundational set of knowledge and skills that every student should attain. As a small institution, it was difficult to offer any 'specialist' education to my students, as they all wanted to specialize in different things.

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Hi Joel,

This is very similar to a idea I have been developing for a while, Mindover U: Hacking Your Thinking - The "T-shaped" University . Check it out and let me know what you think. Would be interested in collaborating!

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Hi Joel,
Interesting post. I agree with you about skill acquisition. It is important for Higher education systems to make changes that will encourage skill acquisition instead of too much theory.

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Hi Joel.
Thanks for sharing this idea, based on work that you have been doing.
I looked at your link - www.gla.academy. Are employers subscribing to your model and using it to train new recruits? You mention that you have pivoted the focus, after a small pilot, and it is now more on self awareness than skills. Can you please describe further what you mean by self awareness and how you approach training for this? What skills were you initially focused on?

What are your thoughts on how to bring this idea to students during their education? Are you creating an online training program to share via university partnerships, or would this be marketed directly to students?

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Hi Joel , the idea of gaining practical skills sounds great , theory and practice go hand in hand. It will be very benneficial to help young people to solve problems through the application of skills. Looking for ward to see how the idea progresses.

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Please note the video I provided is our first version of the program, launched back in 2015.