A Vision of the Modern Age: Reflections on our 3rd year in business

January 31, 2021

Almost 3 years ago, I took the leap from my comfy and safe (but very fun) corporate job and started Skills of the Modern Age. It was a scary and uncertain time, but one that has proved challenging, rewarding, and spurred lots of personal growth.

The team has now grown to 6 amazing people (welcome Tamara (NZ), Cony (Perth) and Jeff (Philipines)), and we have impacted over 8,000 learners with our skills programs and tools, not just in WA but across Australia and now in South East Asia as well.

Each year, around this time, I take the opportunity to reflect on what we have been up to; what we would have done differently; and where we are heading.

This article shares with you some of our company updates for the last 12-months, as well as the launch of our new future of work report: ‘A Vision for the Modern Age.’

Skills of the Modern Age team

2020: A year for trying new things

It goes without saying that 2020 was a challenging year for all businesses, especially those that focus on in-person interaction as we do. Even in the midst of the uncertainty and chaos that March and April brought, I was super proud of how the team came together to rapidly shift our programs online and take an experimentation mindset to figure out how we could continue to support our community.

In summary, across 2020 we delivered over 90 Design & Innovation programs, working with over 2,000 learners, and delivered 17 free SkillGym workshops.

A few highlights for the year were:

  • Launching our new 5-week social impact learning journey, The Good People, which saw participants from Perth to Portugal.
  • Running a series of Plus Eight entrepreneurship education programs in partnership with Spacecubed and Meshpoints around regional WA, including Port Hedland, Karratha, Pinjarra, Onslow, Shire of Murray, City of Canning and Newman.
  • Working with BHP’s global Project Services function on a 12-week journey to help prepare them for the future of work.
  • Leading the design and facilitation of the Regional Innovation Summit, which included 120 leaders from throughout WA coming together for 2 days in Geraldton to discuss how we enable innovation in the regions.
  • Collaborating with Department of Mining, Industry Regulation & Safety on a series of data hackathons, data sprints, and capability programs as their official innovation partner.
  • Co-designing exhibitions with Scitech and their community of teachers, students and learners.
  • Delivering design sprints, hackathons and capability programs with Land Services, Keystart, South32, At Home Health, Kleenheat, HealthEngine and many more.

Through these engagements, we developed a model for online facilitation that ensured strong collaboration and interaction, which previously we were very dubious about exploring. We left the year with a strong NPS of 71 and a satisfaction rating of 94%.

At the end of the year, we held a elebration with our community, through which we had a bit of fun with and developed our own ‘Skills of the Modern Ale’ and ‘Beer of the Modern Age’ beer cans featuring our team members.

Cubb: Building for scale

One of the programs we have been proud to develop and deliver across many industries in different forms is our Customer Culture Bootcamp. This program sees human-centered design used in a practical way by arming teams with skills to better understand and improve their customer journeys and personas.

After running this as a skills program with organisations such as WA Super, Realmark, At Home Health and Kleenheat, we saw an opportunity to scale its effects through an online platform.

Cubb is an online customer research platform

Over the last 12 months I have dusted off my coding gloves and had the tremendous joy of working with the team to develop Cubb, our online platform for customer research.

Cubb helps teams become more customer centred by making it easier and quicker to create, share and analyse customer research activities. From customer personas, to journey maps, NPS surveys and customer interviews — we hope Cubb becomes the go-to platform for designers undertaking research, just like Atlassian’s Jira is for software developers.

Cubb our online customer research platform is used by over 40 countries worldwide

Whilst it is early days, Cubb is now used by hundreds of designers a month in over 40 countries.

A Vision for the Modern Age

As we started to think about 2021, our Skills Program Manager, Matt Norman had a great idea of bringing together some of our community to undertake a futures thinking co-design session. The idea was to cast our eyes forward and focus on answering the very important question of ‘what might the future of work look and feel like in Western Australia in 2030?’

The outcome of this session was a report that paints four distinct scenarios for what the future of work and life might be like, based on the trends we're seeing now.

On March 10th we will be holding a community lunch to share publicly this report and its outcomes for the first time. You can view the report and learn more about the event here.

Stepping into 2021

As we step into 2021, our primary goal is to double down on our mission to help people, communities and organisations thrive in the future of work. This means continuing with our skills programs, but scaling them across Australia and into South East Asia, as we have already begun to do. This will also mean emphasising the 'for-purpose' nature of our business by exploring new opportunities to help drive positive social change in the organisation and communities we interact with. This will include expanding our 'The Good People' social impact program, continuing our free SkillGym meetup series and working with regional areas to drive innovation and skills developement.

As part of this planning, we have launched our new website and refreshed (or at least more consistent) brand, which you are viewing right now through this blog! We have also begun to translate some of our most popular content into self-paced videos, to increase accessibility for people and organisations who can’t attend an in-person or online bootcamp.

Lastly, we will be continuing to scale our impact by investing in our tools and platforms. 2021 will be the year of Cubb, and we are currently working on expanding our Workshop Playshop canvas library, which has seen over 4,000 downloads since launching 18 months ago.

In my lifetime, the world has never been more uncertain. However with a little of creativity, an awesome team, and a wonderful community, I am positive 2021 will be stellar year for us all.

Onwards and upwards,

Nate Sturke Managing Director of Skills of the Modern Age


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