Article: How to ‘sharpen the saw’ in a digital era?

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How to ‘sharpen the saw’ in a digital era?


Here are a few helpful tips to navigate learning in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business world.
How to ‘sharpen the saw’ in a digital era?

A story of two workers cutting wood while working at the same place is one that most of us are familiar with. The words ‘same place’ is a reference to an economics axiom ‘other things are being equal’ meaning same working hours and conditions. Yet, one produces better results compared to the other. 

What is the cause of this difference in performance? 

If you don’t know the answer already, it is – the ability to sharpen the saw! 

Today, ‘Sharpening the Saw’ is more relevant than ever before. While many of us can put into practice what we have seen and done in the past and apply solutions that have worked for us before, we are stuck to the past. Our learning architecture involves learning based on our enterprise experience, intelligence on market practices, leadership & skill attributes, academic wisdom & past experiences. 

However, businesses today operate in a VUCA environment, and technology integrated solutions have become a new normal along with demographic shift with the influx of millennial population in the workforce. This creates a compelling need to change; a change in the existing learning architecture and engaging in new & innovative methods of learning to meet the ever-expanding demands of the evolving workplace. Our learning patterns need to evolve and enable us to acquire niche skills in multiple areas to remain relevant.

There is a need to invest in sharpening our saw with an enhanced variation. This means leveraging the power of ‘digital’ to multiplying the impact and to produce transformational results. Our traditional patterns of learning need to change significantly. Just as the tree cutting axe has changed over the years (nowadays there are over 30+ variation of axes for cutting specific trees), there’s a need to being in enhanced variation in our own development. Here are a few attributes that will help you in the process:


We need to take charge of our individual learning journey basis a self-paced developmental approach, leveraging technology as a tool. There’s a need to be a relentless and versatile learner; a learner who builds the rare skill of doing things for the first time, solving problems never seen before and attempting solutions that have not been tried before. Analyzing problems in a new context and in new ways while investing in self and leveraging innovative learning solutions. Learning in the digital era requires us to be a quick learner, technology adopter, cutting through the grind and carving new paths or simply put – fail fast to learn fast!

Relevance Quotient:

As working with technology and investing in innovative solutions is the need of the hour; a critical aspect is to be sensitive to the organization’s needs as they operate on varied business maturity stages. Learning solutions need to be rooted in reality and successful within the contours of the business objectives. The relevance of a solution should be measured in terms of its ability to drive higher performance or enhance efficiency. Hence, it’s imperative that we enhance our relevant quotient by looking deeply into our respective businesses and create customized, digital-based solutions.  

Learning on the Fly:

We need to become early adopters in experimenting with various technology tools and make conscious efforts in gaining exposure to new learning practice; be it experimenting with various facets of e-learning modules, mobile-based learning apps, customized LMS solutions, creating video nuggets or introducing just in time learning concepts. We need to continually learn & implement at the same time while creating value at every step.

Sustain Your Uniqueness:

Multiple types of research have proved that as we move into the world of automation and robotics; aspects related to leadership attributes & soft skills become even more critical. As you focus on acquiring multiple skills; sustain your uniqueness; your authentic being! A machine in itself can never be successful; it’s always the human behind the machine. Adding digital power to the ‘learning axe’ would make it significantly sharper. In the end, it would need a human to pick it up and put to good use. Be a leader and leverage your knowledge to the maximum potential.

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Topics: Technology, #HIPO, #HiPoWeek

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