DWA Guest Blog: Lorna Weston-Smyth

Here at Durham Workforce Authority (DWA), we are constantly looking for ways to ensure the community is aware of the valuable resources we provide. As part of that process, we are working to develop a series of monthly blogs to help our stakeholders better understand the value the DWA provides in the community.

For the month of August, we are proud to publish a Guest Blog Post featuring: Lorna Weston-Smyth – Executive Coach and Trainer and Independent Executive Director of the John Maxwell Team, LWS Coaching and Training.

“Adam Grant

‘In a stable world, it’s best to be data-driven. In a changing world, it’s better to be data-informed.

Data can reveal patterns from the past. It takes judgement to predict how those patterns will evolve in the future. Data shouldn’t guide decisions. It should inform decisions.’

In this fast-paced digital world, we have an unprecedented amount of data available at the touch of a button and data is probably the most valuable asset there is. It can tell you if you should wear a rain jacket and when you should get your car serviced before you get stuck on the side of the road in the rain. It can predict a heart attack or natural disasters and so much more.

Seeking out, capturing and harvesting mass amounts of electronic data through a process called “data mining” has raised the bar for knowing how to manage that data so it becomes usable information.  That information can then be acted upon by decision makers in virtually any endeavor or company.

Today’s services and industries require a range of options when it comes to leveraging sources of information in order to capitalize on new opportunities, make smarter decisions, forecast trends, identify risks and generally be less vulnerable as an organization.  The amount of information available in today’s fast-paced world can be overwhelming. Making good use of this information often requires transforming the data into information that’s more digestible.

For instance, I when attended the Data Walk presented by the Durham Workforce Authority, I learned something important about the skills development training that I offer to my clients. You see, I am an executive coach and trainer and I specialize in teaching leadership and communication skills, the so called soft skills that are much more intangible but have a significant impact on success.

Let me back up for a second and share with you what exactly a Data Walk is. A Data Walk is a regular event that the Durham Workforce Authority hosts that takes the important data they collect and makes it relevant for businesses and organizations in the Durham Region. Heather McMillan and the staff put on presentations around specific data sets that really put a face to the numbers to make it not only understandable but impactful.

One of the sets they did a presentation on was essential skills and employability skills in the under 25 demographic. In that presentation I learned that may of the skills that I deliver training on are in fact employability skills and not only that they showed me the numbers that supported what I already knew from experience but no data to support it.

Having the numbers to support what I knew gave me a way to show my clients and prospects just how important this kind of training is for not only their current workforce but to also help them attract new talent and earns their loyalty. Soft skills ARE essential skills!

Data reveals past instances and gives an idea how to best approach situations and circumstances in the future that we might not have an answer for right now. It also helps us find ways to present our product to the customers and to just understanding them better at any given time.

At its very core, data helps us to establish one of the most important foundations in developing a company, which is effective allocation of time and resources. Data can tell us what we need to do next. It exposes inefficiencies and disadvantages. It reveals truths about our habits and what we might do next.

Data opens windows into opportunity, while offering a glimpse into the future. Data has the power to make those possibilities a reality. The more information we collect regarding customers and sales, for example, the better are our chances of getting some further insight regarding our target market.

Whether you are a large company of a small entrepreneur, you don’t have to do the data mining yourself. The Durham Workforce Authority can help you pull the numbers you need and help you understand what it means. You need to embrace data and learn to use it properly if you want this idea of yours to come to successful fruition.”

Lorna Weston-Smyth – Executive Coach and Trainer and Independent Executive Director of the John Maxwell Team, LWS Coaching and Training.(2021)

The Durham Workforce Authority (DWA) provides local workforce information and champions workforce development initiatives unique to Durham Region.

The DWA is one of a network of 26 Workforce Planning Board areas across the province.