The landscape changed. It did not allow time to think, prepare, act. One day we were holding face to face workshops with 20 delegates in a closed classroom, and suddenly, we were not allowed to. The pandemic and social distancing put paid to that thought completely. This shift was further complicated by a rapidly changing workforce, technological/digital developments, teetering economies, job losses, budget shrinkages and on-going market volatilities.
We found ourselves in uncharted territory. Some of us were more prepared than others. The ones that were not, either faded away or ended up shifting gears into other careers. Even the ones that were prepared, found it hard to hock their wares, given lockdowns etc.
The skill shift, clearly a digitized one, became apparent. Employees with brilliant skills pre-pandemic were now being treated as less than average employees. Expected skill sets for our digital world were now not only sought after, but became prerequisites. We all knew change was upon us, with companies disrupting the status quo, and, bringing in Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and Holographic abilities into the fray. But it was the sudden nature of the change that caught most people off guard.
Nothing prepared us for the change thrust upon us in such a short time. Driving change is a whole different ball game. Changing yourself, is quite the other. Not only has the strategic vision for L&D changed, the skill sets to achieve that also have.
It’s not only about what we are trying to achieve for the future, but also how to absorb, allocate and execute it for ourselves, to remain relevant. Transformations are the norm in today’s world. But transforming oneself comes first. Not just our thoughts and attitudes but our beliefs as well.
According to PwC’s “Talent Trends 2019” report, “79% of CEOs worldwide are concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforce is threatening the future growth of their organization.”
Skills can be learnt. What is missing is the application behind the learning and the accountability that goes with all this. If a line manager derides the entire experience and does not want things to change, they will not. Ensuring people across the organization are on board with learning initiatives is critical.
Making learning more strategic, tactile/experiential and agile are key. Making it relevant, applicable and future proofing it also helps. Ensuring it is easy to access, available anytime and anywhere, and, building accountability into it, are essential. All these factors would provide the desired impetus in transforming this segment into what it should be. So, the end game should be simple. L&D activity impacts the bottom line positively.
All the words/aspects mentioned above are key. But what do they mean for L&D transformation?
- Strategy: Strategic emphasis towards this goal provides direction, focus and clarity of purpose. It provides a pathway and an outcome-based vision. Ad-hoc workshops just won’t do anymore. A well-defined Line-of-sight strategy is required.
- Tactile/experiential: Hands-on, work based, on-the-job. Theoretical, concepts-based, academic workshops don’t take into account real-life situations requiring physical understanding.
- Relevant & applicable: Not generic in nature. Specific to the job, short bursts and then evidence-based application of lessons learnt. Making it part of the way business is done.
- Accountability: Self accountability included, but also monitored, answerable & justified.
- Ease of access: Not only on different platforms, but also devices, 24/7/365, and, simplified. Direct and timely access for when the knowledge is required.
- Anytime / anywhere access: Not simply intranet based. Internet based. On any device, anywhere, anytime. Including, without the Internet, in off-site situations.
- Directed and bite sized: Gone are the days of 5-day workshops. Should be specific, short & to the point. Even if its 5 minutes before a meeting & a particular point is required.
- Future focused: Not simply addressing immediate needs of the day, but potential future needs as well. Aligning this with organizational strategies for the future.
- Bottom line driven / Business outcome focused: All efforts in this arena must be leading towards outcomes / bottom line that the organization wants to achieve.
- Digitized: Not only content, but the focus as well. Digitized solutions, opportunities, breakthroughs, market trends, developments.
- Omni channel: Seamless learner experience across different platforms, devices.
- Agile: Flexible, scalable, responsive, rapid changes possible. Needs are shifting rapidly. A crystal-clear strategy to ensure nimble & constant upgrades in tune with market needs.
Over & above the details, it’s not only how it’s done, but also what is done, when, and why.