In the IT/development world “Continuous development” is a term that is often banded around, much like “Continuous integration” or “Agile”.
But what is continuous development? One definition from Synopsys.com:
“Continuous development, like agile, began as a software development methodology. Rather than improving software in one large batch, updates are made continuously, piece-by-piece, enabling software code to be delivered to customers as soon as it is completed and tested.”
But can you apply this to yourself? Can you use the approach of continuous development to a person?
You can – its called “continuous learning” and is the process of learning new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. It can take the form of formal classroom learning or casual learning, even a pub quiz can count. This approach can be within a company or it can be a personal thing – a decision to learn for a lifetime.
Within a company it can be a powerful tool “Knowledge is power” the more your employees know the more they can do, meaning they contribute more to the organisation. Training and development is more cost effective than hiring new people. If your employees feel valued with development and training options they are more likely to be loyal to your company and stay for longer as they will understand that the company is genuine about employee development.
In my personal journey like many people, once I left University with my degree in hand, I decided that I didn’t want to do anymore learning and training. After 17 years of schooling I had had enough. For many years after this I held steady to this desire and only undertook training courses if there was no other option, and, it was something required for my job.
Then I got made redundant, and after so much time with the same company I was forced to start looking at what I had done over the years. I started a new job with a steep learning curve (I had never work with the technology this company was using) I realised something about myself.
I enjoyed learning! All of a sudden, I understood why people went on training courses or did second (or third) degrees, it was fun! Challenging yourself to learn how something works or a new skill is addictive. However, in that company they didn’t have a policy of continuous learning so it was something I was doing on my own.
Now I try to learn something every day, it may not be practical for my job every time, but I try to end the day with some new knowledge about something. That something may be about Pokémon or Minecraft (two games my kids love to play) or it may be about Auditing, UX/UI design or testing software. It doesn’t matter, now that I have started learning I can’t stop. It is something that I try to encourage my two children to also do, we play quiz games together and I try to help them with their homework (sometime the word is “try” as the way children are taught maths etc is different to how I was taught).
As a family we also bake together, learning new skills in the kitchen, like making soft pretzels or trying a new icing technique. It may not end up looking like the professional bakers work or even like those we see in “The Great British Bake Off” but its usually tasty and is a fun weekend activity that doesn’t involve computer screens or being glued to a television.
Lokulus gives us access to Pluralsight which I have found invaluable especially with the current pandemic crisis meaning that normal life is suspended. There are thousands of courses of lots of different topics that I find myself dipping into. Lokulus wants us to learn, they set up a learning challenge within my department to see who could achieve the most points on the Pluralsight platform over 3 months and gave us a weekly scoreboard. The competition was friendly but did get quite fierce and is something I would like to do again in the future. I came third which I am really proud of.
I have also undertaken a “virtual classroom” training course which was a first for me. Due to Covid-19 all actual classroom based courses have been cancelled. It was interesting to be in a room with people from all different walks of life even if it was only “virtually”.
Don’t get me wrong I still hate exams, I still get the same fear and anxiety that I have always had when I take them, but now it doesn’t stop me. I accept that around the time of the exam I am going to be in a state, I am going to panic but that I will be ok afterwards and the feeling of achievement when I pass the exam is worth all the stress.
I am proud to say that I am continuously developing myself.