Learn More About Michelle R. Weise
In today’s fast-moving world, businesses are always looking for new ways to unlock their competitive edge. The key, says Michelle Weise, Ph.D., a leading expert on the future of work, is knowing when to build and when to buy talent. Companies have long touted human capital as their greatest asset, but few understand at a granular level the actual skills of each employee in their workforce. Weise is on a mission to change the way executives think about internal mobility and training for the jobs ahead.
“It is vital,” explains Weise, author of the acclaimed book “Long Life Learning: Preparing For Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet” (Wiley, 2021), “to develop a skills-based approach to articulating your employees’ unique skills while helping them learn new ones that are most needed in your organization” – a fresh concept that she calls skill shapes, a novel, skills-based and regional approach to understanding real-time labor market demand within cities, states and regions.
“People talk about skills gaps and tend to assume that there is some sort of broad general or national skills gap,” says Weise “But skills gaps are hyper-local. They depend on the region you’re looking at. With this data, you can support the design and calibration of training programs that can close gaps between the supply of and demand for talent.
“Better people analytics – and better ways of visualizing and interacting with that data – will not only help managers and recruiters do a better job of matching people with jobs but will also help companies develop a more accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses.”
Changing the Conversation from the Future of Work to the Future of Workers
When Weise thinks about the scientific advancements extending human lifespans, her mind immediately considers the impact a longer life could have on workforce education. “We have to prepare students for work that doesn’t exist yet,” emphasizes Weise, “In 2014, LinkedIn’s top ten jobs were jobs that hadn’t existed five years prior: social media intern, iOS/Android developer, cloud manager, big data architect, or UI/UX designer as examples. How many new jobs that don’t exist today will a person have during a 150-year lifespan?”
Both visionary and practical, Weise brings businesses concrete strategies for welcoming a longer career and putting this cultural shift into action, including investing in upskilling and reskilling programs, deploying new skills and labor market analytics, and creating more flexible earn-and-learn arrangements.
Weise helps business leaders understand the change management processes that go along with massive internal, digital transformation efforts. She teaches practical and design-thinking-based frameworks for how organizations can pursue the cultural changes required to “think bigger” about the future. Her workshops focus on organizational design, transparency, and psychological safety—all while keeping teams aligned and in step with one another.
How to Acquire Top Talent: Buy vs. Build
By shining a light on the elements that comprise the talent ecosystem, Weise lays out a clear and easy-to-follow roadmap for building a sustainable, dynamic workforce. She gives companies the insights they need to access a deeper talent pool while simultaneously unlocking the full potential of their people. The result is Weise’s encouragement for organizations to not buy talent but build it instead. With access to internal mobility pathways, workers will find themselves compelled to remain with the company, boosting the organization’s talent retention and transforming a disjointed workforce into a connected community.
“In simplest terms, we must stop thinking of learning and work as separate activities, as if the workplace and the classroom are two distinct virtual or physical spaces,” Weise sums up. “Companies must adopt a whole new mindset: The workplace must become the classroom of the future. It’s time to reimagine on-the-job training as a way for workers to build new skills for emerging and better jobs.”
Previously the chief of strategy and innovation for multiple organizations, such as National University System, Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work, and Southern New Hampshire University, Weise now advises clients through her company, Rise & Design, as they seek to design education and workforce strategies that will prepare working-age adults for the jobs of today and tomorrow. An expert in disruptive innovation and co-author with the late Clayton Christensen of “Hire Education: Mastery, Modularity and the Workforce Revolution” (2014), Weise advises various funders, multiple for-profit and non-profit startups in edtech and workforce tech, and has also participated on multiple commissions, including Harvard University’s Task Force on Skills and Employability, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Commission on Lifelong Learning and Digital Innovation, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education.
Weise elaborates on her methods for developing more innovative workforce and talent pipeline strategies in “Long Life Learning.” Called “an invaluable glimpse into a future that many of us have not even begun to imagine,” it makes the case that learners of the future are going to repeatedly seek out educational opportunities throughout the course of their working lives ― which will no longer have a beginning, middle and end.
With a focus on equity that takes a holistic view of working learners’ potential, she’s shifting the conversation from the future of work to the future of workers. Her advisory work that stems from her award-winning book, includes interactive workshops and engaging keynotes to show leaders and teams how to change the culture of their organization to one that embraces lifelong learning, skill building and job mobility.
Michelle Weise is the founder of Rise & Design. Her voice has been featured in all top-tier business outlets such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg BusinessWeek, as well as all major education publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, EdSurge and Inside Higher Ed. Thinkers50 named her one of 30 management and leadership thinkers in the world to watch in 2021.
Previously the entrepreneur-in-residence and senior advisor at Imaginable Futures, Weise was also the chief innovation officer at Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work. Prior to that, she was chief innovation officer at Southern New Hampshire University and designed and led the Sandbox ColLABorative, an innovation lab and research consultancy.
Weise has held several instructional positions, serving as a professor at Skidmore College and an instructor at Stanford University. A former Fulbright Scholar, Weise is a graduate of Harvard University, and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from Stanford University.
Michelle Weise is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Michelle Weise, Ph.D., founder of Rise & Design and a leading expert on learning, longevity and the future of work, is on a mission to change the way executives think about skills, training, education and career mobility. The acclaimed author of “Long Life Learning: Preparing For Jobs that Don’t Even Exist Yet” (Wiley, 2021), Weise partners with leaders to show them how to gain a closer understanding of the unique skill demands of their field while simultaneously painting a picture of their workforce’s existing skills. By combining these insights, organizations can accomplish more without adding additional costs to their bottom line.
The former chief innovation officer at Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work, Weise has a proven track record of helping businesses mobilize their talent and embrace a more creative culture. An accomplished advisor, Weise has partnered with all levels of funders, policymakers and nonprofit institutions and consulted multiple commissions – including Harvard University’s Task Force on Skills and Employability, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Commission on Lifelong Learning and Digital Innovation, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education – to develop and deploy her future-focused approach to training.
Weise’s consulting and advisory services transform organizations by revealing hidden opportunities for disruptive design that increase innovation, spark creativity and increase collaboration. Other organizations that have benefited from Weise’s expertise include the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, National University, BrightHive, Imaginable Futures, and Southern New Hampshire.
Author of the acclaimed book “Long Life Learning: Preparing For Jobs that Don’t Even Exist Yet” (Wiley, 2021), Michelle Weise is refocusing the conversation about the future of work to center on the future of workers. Weise leverages the framework of a learning ecosystem to reveal the five principles that enable working learners to thrive in an uncertain world of work. These principles around career navigation, wraparound supports, targeted education, integrated earn and learn opportunities, and fair and transparent hiring practices are the keys to unlocking business model innovation and a virtuous cycle of continuous returns to learning throughout a longer work life.
As new game-changing technologies seem to launch almost every day, organizations need to re-evaluate their approach to talent, training and development to stay relevant and retain a top-notch workforce. Moreover, companies are being forced to manage both their current day-to-day business while also anticipating their future business model long before their current business begins to decline. This idea of jumping to your next S-curve requires an openness to making greater investments in very different-looking approaches. A renowned expert in disruptive innovation, design thinking and lifelong learning, Michelle Weise leverages the theories of disruption to illuminate hidden opportunities that increase innovation and transform cultures.
The workshops for businesses include primers on disruptive innovation and how to leverage Clayton Christensen’s theories to spot disruptions on the margins. Weise also uses foresight and futures thinking to help businesses design new business models for future sustainability. This includes a clearer understanding of parsing signals from the noise, evaluating potential threats, and reimagining product offerings to meet the needs of nonconsumers, or those who are currently unserved by today’s market offerings. These highly engaging and creative workshops pave the way for a new blueprint for delivering value and generating new streams of revenue.
Weise’s workshops for higher education institutions are geared toward schools that understand that the learner market is shifting in tectonic ways and are seeking to create more on- and off-ramps in and out of learning and work. These are postsecondary institutions that understand that although they serve current students well, they must also make way for a growing universe of more mature learners who are seeking more direct connections to good work and specific skills. These are working learners coming with different needs and expectations, so how do institutions work against the very natural and substantial academic inertia to transform from within? Disruptions occur not because there was an unwillingness to change or a lack of awareness of the need for change but more to do with the fact that business models cannot evolve easily, particularly in the face of rapid innovation.
The real opportunity for educators is to push the boundaries of what is possible with the things that are in their control. This is the core focus of Weise’s workshops with postsecondary institutions. Weise combines academic and business experience to show organizations how to make the most with what they already have.
The founder of Rise & Design, an advisory service tailored for organizations seeking to design education and workforce strategies that will prepare working-age adults for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Weise’s workshops are threaded with customized guidance, organizations gain a deeper understanding of their team members’ skills and strengths, allowing them to leverage this knowledge for ongoing growth and development and giving them a powerful approach to innovation and talent management that drives success for years to come.