At some point, you may have heard the adage: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” The point of this is that knowledge has to be applied correctly and to the right situation. This is true for Learning and Development (L&D) initiatives surrounding data.

It is important to identify what you need to learn, why you need to learn it and if you are ready to learn. But that doesn’t sound sexy so we’ve relabelled them; Seek to Find, Learn and Turn and Pause for a Cause. These can help determine if L&D initiatives are a liability and distraction or to help employees learn and develop their skills.

How? Same way you found out tomatoes don’t grow on trees; we’ll tell you.

Forbes highlighted certain indicators when Seeking to Find; identify what you want to learn, existing skills gaps, the training based on the skills gaps and program requirements. From a data perspective, these indicate what is needed for an organisation to succeed in analytics.

Skills gaps range from soft skills, like building a data-to-decisions framework, to hard skills, like learning stat techniques. You can bridge these gaps with a tertiary education or customised courses that deliver to specific needs.

Learning and Turning is the ability to pick up skills and be able to apply them to existing data projects. In essence, Learning and acquiring those skills and Turning employees into intelligence assets. Part of this is realising why training is important.

At its core, analytics is about solving problems at a larger scope. This type of problem solving is not in big supply despite its increasing value. Second to it is the ability to communicate those insights to decision makers; an informed leadership means effective decisions.

With any fledgling initiative, it is important to take stock of things before allocating budgets and manhours. Pausing for a Cause is to ensure that your L&D initiatives are not a liability and a distraction before it begins. Consider how the L&D initiative aligns with organisational strategy and vision to ensure the right skills gaps are being bridged.

Put in place processes of knowledge transfer and skills sharing to ensure the competency can be proliferated. Above all, have the right posture to training; some view it as a necessary evil while others, an acceleration expense. Improving internal capabilities is the more sustainable way of closing skills gaps.

Slightly altering an older adage, the tomato doesn’t fall far from the vine.

Decisions made within an organisation often reflect the minds of leadership. It is important for business leaders to grasp the benefits of training but be mindful of what is necessary. Closing skills gaps help remove the pervasive, siloed view of most organisations today. It increases internal capabilities which most would outsource and creates opportunities for “home-grown” talent.

After all, the fruits you grow yourself are the ones that taste the sweetest.