Article: Accelerating innovation with agile learning

Learning & Development

Accelerating innovation with agile learning

In a recent roundtable hosted in partnership by People Matters and Skillsoft, talent leaders from across industries came together to discuss the best practices and concerns surrounding continuous learning and getting the leadership buy-in.
Accelerating innovation with agile learning

The pace of transformation globally has made continuous learning imperative and non-negotiable. As you contemplate - train or hire, studies indicate the cost of training your existing workforce in in-demand skills, is 1/6th the cost of hiring new talent. Seeking probable solutions at the crossroads of learning and technology, People Matters and Skillsoft together hosted a Roundtable discussion on “Building a future-ready workforce through Continuous Learning”. 

The context setting by Kamal Dutta, Managing Director - India, Skillsoft, and the keynote session by Soma Pandey, CHRO, Firstsource was followed by the much awaited roundtable session on building a future-ready workforce through continuous learning. The discussion was moderated by Jatinder Salwan, Head HR, Societe Generale - Global Solution Centre and saw participation from HR leaders across industries exchanging their views on best practices and creating holistic learning experiences, at the same time debating on who owns the responsibility of career development, employee or the organization?

Read on to break down the myths of digital transformation, statistics on the current state of investment in learning, and understand how you can empower your employees to elevate their learning journey.

Demystifying Digital Transformation

Every industry and every function is experiencing digital transformation in one form or another. In an endeavor to breakdown the myths surrounding digital transformation, Kamal Dutta, Managing Director - India, Skillsoft, kick started the session by emphasizing on what digital transformation truly encompasses.

“At the heart of it, digital transformation is about using technology to create new customer experiences and disrupting the existing business models,” said Kamal. 

While everyone is on their individual journey of transformation, a common mistake often committed is mistaking automation for digital transformation. These are two very, if not entirely, different concepts. Automation is a subset of digital transformation, and is among the many things a company is required to do to function at its full potential in this digital age. Emphasizing on what digital transformation truly represents, Kamal added that “It is about accelerating innovation and building a culture of agility.”

To enable accelerated innovation, there is a need to build an agile, digital mindset leaning towards collaboration, growth, data literacy, technology-adoption and complex problem solving. In addition to a digital, agile and data hungry mindset, skills like design thinking, virtual collaboration, team-based orientation, cross-functional dexterity and customer-centric orientation are critical in the age of digital transformation. 

Organizations that are able to transform digitally have experienced a revenue increase of 16percent. With 77percent of organizations admitting to lack of digital skills as an obstacle to achieving the potential revenues and only 46percent of organizations investing in training, there is an urgency to upskill and equip the employees with the needed digital skills to bridge the digital talent gap.

Forces shaping the future of work

Since 2000, over 50percent of the Fortune 500 companies have faded away. In her keynote session, Soma Pandey, CHRO, Firstsource highlights the changing future of work and where design learning steps in. 

While global organizations try to stand strong amid the rapid changes brought in by the 4th industrial revolution, Soma brought to light how the industry is in fact headed towards the 5th industrial revolution. With the current pace of transformation and increased demand for niche skills here are some critical guiding points as you design learning programs preparing for the future, keeping in mind human experience, design, upskilling and economics:

  • Become more adept to disruptive business models with technology-enabled innovation
  • Not all job roles and skills will become redundant, recognize where the human element and experience steps in
  • Develop proficiency in design thinking for creating appealing user experience
  • Build expertise in future ready technologies 
  • Become indispensable as a talent resource

What got you here will not get you there

Following the insightful sessions by Kamal Dutta and Soma Pandey was the much awaited roundtable discussion on the theme “Building a future-ready workforce through Continuous Learning”, moderated by Jatinder Salwan, Head HR, Societe Generale - Global Solution Centre. 

“There is a resistance to learning which comes predominantly from the traditional way of learning, where an individual thinks the content he or she have learnt over the course of their study years will see them through their career,” said Jatinder. 

Laying down some key concerns that leaders face as they try to think, invest, build, practice and sustain learning programs, Jatinder invited the leaders to discuss practices they follow in an effort  to build an agile, adaptable and learning mindset:

  • Career conversation: Advising fellow leaders to relook at learning interventions as a career builder and not merely knowledge building to be proficient in a certain role, Godwin Sunil, GM HR, IBM advised fellow leaders on initiating conversations where you say “this is where you are, this is where you want to be, do you see a gap? When people realize the correlation between the work they do and their career they realize that ‘I need to make the time to go from where I am to where I want to be.” 
  • Gaining employee participation: Talking about redesigning strategy by focusing on the neuroscience of the adult brain, Meenalochani Kumar, Head Leadership Training, Sutherland Global recommended initiating the change process bottom-up by introducing different learning methodologies at the mid-level, where people are willing to adopt and would share success stories, and can be made brand ambassadors of learning interventions they were a part of. “Understand the ecosystem, understand where your challenges are, strategically position your learning where adoption is faster,” added Meenalochani. 
Highlighting how relevancy and value play a crucial role in driving participation, Sushirta Bhowal, Director HR, SAP added that, “When people feel that it is relevant for them, it adds value to them, you really do away with the resistance in learning.” 

Sharing how moving from traditional learning to experiences work well, Veena Narasimhan, Head - Talent, Diversity, Learning at Collins Aerospace said that it turns out to be a pull proposition where employees stretch themselves to learn more, accelerating learning and aiming to prepare for the aspiring role

  • Leadership buy-in: It is a well-known fact that to implement scalable effective development programs, and in the long-term journeys, leadership buy-in and support plays a crucial role. While the traditional approach has been top-down, the bottom-up approach comes in handy for that little nudge to get the leadership onboard, often also making it possible to involve and inspire leaders to learn and upskill themselves. 
  • Collaborative learning: With a focus on digital learning tools, collaborative learning has taken a backseat. “There is a need to bring back interactions in the era of e-learnings, to break the silos emerging in the learning space and enabling employees and managers to exchange their learning and takeaways,” said Godwin. Knowledge transfer through shared learning will benefit both the employees as well as effectiveness of interventions.
  • Who is responsible? Segmenting ownership, Sushirta said that “Responsibility of career development and ownership rests with the employee, but the responsibility of the organization is to ensure that there is an enabling ecosystem around it.” Emphasizing on structure, Shaleen Chaturvedi, Vice President - Learning & Development, JP Morgan added that, “Having a sensible career conversation on the table, increasing the frequency of it and not aligning it to just the performance management will act as a huge leap in people realizing they need to upskill themselves.”
  • Retaining trained employees: Employees need to see value in both learning interventions as well as future opportunities within the organization. The clarity and foresight that the organization has with respect to future roles determines the direction of conversation with employees and how they see themselves being a part of the organization in the long-term.

To foster a culture of continuous learning, organizations need to step up and provide an ecosystem that supports an employee’s journey of learning and development, with a mix of methodologies and tools, boosted by strategic positioning for faster adoption and instilling a sense of ownership to take the next step in their career journey.

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Topics: Learning & Development, #PMRoundtables

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