The Currency of the Future is Skills (and how quickly you can acquire them)

September 30, 2020 | Activate Learning | 7 min read

“The currency of the future is skills and speed,” Kimo says almost casually from his home in Warsaw, Poland. It’s a statement that makes you pause and think, like so many of the lessons he shares from his career-building corporate learning cultures.

He explains that skills are the ability to demonstrate the successful completion of a particular task. Take something relatively easy, like driving a nail into a piece of wood. You might be tempted to think the skill is using a hammer. While that is technically true, magic comes when we start to break down that task.

How accurate are our strokes?

Every 10 times we swing the hammer, how many times do we hit the nail? This will impact our efficiency and effectiveness.

Do we know where to place a nail to avoid splitting the wood?

Can we identify the perfect hammer weight for the task at hand?

Mastering a skill is more than just demonstrating how to swing a hammer. It’s showing validated, repeatable application of that skill in real work environments. This is where experience and practice come into (the) frame. Can our employees apply a skill to a variety of parameters with confidence?

Too many learning programs begin and end with swinging a hammer. What we really need to do is build up learners’ ability to apply a hammer swing in many scenarios – some known and some unknown.

The same methodology is applied if you are building an aircraft engine, serving customers at a restaurant, or coding software. When we understand how to create mastery, skills truly become the currency of our future.

Kimo, with a twinkle of excitement in his eye, reminds us that understanding this truth is the foundation for building a modern learning experience.

I bet you can guess where the conversation went next. We dove deep into the essential elements a learning experience platform must support.


Even the most effective content will go to waste, if a learner can’t access the information. Of course, you must not only consider the availability of reliable internet access to digital content, but also how optimized a learning experience is for a variety of screen sizes. And, we must not forget the different learning modes that help learners internalize what you share – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. We are working on the sense of smell– sense of smell is very powerful!


Context is everything. While we might enjoy learning, in the context of work, we must focus our learning in areas relevant to the job we have today, or the job we want to be doing in the future. It’s too easy to get caught up in the joy of learning to expand knowledge, but we can’t lose sight of the role corporate learning must play in employee engagement and building a future-fit workforce and culture.


That famous line “Build it, and they will come” from “Field of Dreams” has been proven false time and time again. Our employees have an overwhelming number of things that are competing for their attention. It’s critical, a good learning experience elevates search from a passive response to an inquiry to active content discovery.

Inspired by Josh Bersin’s article in CLO, we talked about what it takes to make this vision a reality. Bersin explains that content discovery—already a complex challenge—is growing more complicated as authoring tools are easier to use, and libraries continue expanding.

As Product Owner for Percipio, it's sometimes hard to have an objective view of the solution we have built, so I was thrilled to have Kimo by my side. I asked him to share his analysis of how our platform addresses Bersin's top five options for guiding learning.

Josh Bersin’s top five Kimo’s analysis. How does Percipio line up?

“The focus on self-directed learning has gone too far — most of us simply do not know what we need to know.”

-Josh Bersin

Percipio offers learners and leaders many options for presenting learning paths. Out-of-the-box learning paths are based on more than 100,000 requests from leading companies across the globe. They include:

  • 700+ learning paths (channels) aligned with high-demand skills
  • Aspire Journeys that are role-based and skill-based, offering a clear starting point and a guided path from Point A to Point B.
  • Learning paths that are very flexible and can accommodate client-generated content or content from other providers
  • Easy built-in assessments and coding labs to measure progress against learning objectives
  • Accountability built into the learning paths, so they can be assigned a clear sequence and due date

“Ultimately, skills-based discovery is limited by media type and the fact that micro-learning is still lacking in most libraries.”

-Josh Bersin

Percipio uses skill tags effectively.

  • All content is aligned to a specific skill
  • All course content is broken into micro-learning videos to enable learners to pinpoint areas of interest
  • Search filters allow learners to easily access content based on duration to align with their available time
  • A broad set of media types - videos, books, audiobooks, practice labs, live events, and even bootcamps are offered

“When a program is widely used, it also then becomes widely recommended, and it starts to “crowd out” other content that might have more value and credibility. The most popular article or course may not be the most useful.”

-Josh Bersin

It’s exciting to see Percipio use artificial intelligence to create personalized content recommendations for learners.

  • The homepage for each learner is populated with recommendations based on a learner’s specific interests. Recommendations are ranked based on “Likes” to reflect content use and learner feedback.
  • AI collaborative filtering models recommend content based on a user’s online behavior and the behavior of “like users.” These also appear on the Recommended For You strip on the homepage and in personalized notifications.

“…solutions that actually ingest instructional content (text, video, audio), identify and categorize the instruction contained within it, and then create micro-learning and personalized recommendations.”

-Josh Bersin

While some technologies experiment in this space, it’s all very new and somewhat aspirational. Percipio takes a more practical approach, which leverages experts in instructional design, brain science, and scenario-based learnings to ingest content…to learn more.


“In an ideal world, your learning platform would know the role and experience of each employee, their learning preferences and goals, and the content they have consumed.”

-Josh Bersin

Percipio “asks the learner” during onboarding and throughout the learning experience.

  • Percipio’s user onboarding starts with asking the learner about their interests and skills they would like to build. This is used to personalize the recommendations on the homepage.
  • Percipio’s homepage banner poses the question, “What would you like to learn today?” to each learner. This is an invitation to a digital dialogue.

In addition to individual interests, Percipio also “asks the organization.” The homepage can be customized by their clients to promote content in the banner and in a strip of content called “Featured Content” spotlighting organizational objectives related to learning.


Kimo is a true fan of good work, great people, and enabling platforms. He was not compensated in any way for his participation in the interview.

Kimo Kippen, is a native of Hawai’i, residing alternately in Warsaw, Poland and Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is a thought leader, speaker and advocate for learning. Kimo is a former executive at Hilton and Marriott; recognized by CLO Magazine as CLO of the year 2015; former chairman of ATD (2007), chairman of APIA Scholars, board member for the Center for Talent Reporting (CTR) and CTDO Next, advisory board member at CAEL, CLO advisor at the Defense Acquisition University, Advisory Board member for Strategic Education Inc. (SEI), Gnowbe, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), World Institute for Action Learning (WIAL), and GP Strategies. He is the Program Director for The Conference Board Talent & Organizational Development Executive Council, USA and the Learning & Development Council, Europe. Kimo also serves as an adjunct professor/advisor at Catholic University of America (CUA) and George Mason University (GMU). Kimo has an MS from RIT, a BS from the University of Hawai’i, and is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland's Post Graduate Program.

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