Article: Orchestrating a learning transformation in the flow of work

Learning & Development

Orchestrating a learning transformation in the flow of work

In his masterclass at People Matters L&D Conference 2020, Ankur Walunjkar, Senior Director, Deloitte India, highlighted the 7 disruptors shaping the L&D playground, the growing need for anticipation and embedding learning in the flow of work and advised how to orchestrate a learning transformation in the flow of work.
Orchestrating a learning transformation in the flow of work

“You have to prepare your learning organization to be future proof, you need to question your own operating model, just like your organization is questioning its own operating model in view of all the disruption right now and relooking at customer segments, products, services, and then working backwards through process, technology, organization, governance, and so on and so forth,” said Ankur Walunjkar, Senior Director, Deloitte India, in his masterclass on “The High-Impact Learning Organisation (HILO) and it’s evolving facets in the ever-changing world” at People Matters L&D Conference 2020.

In his masterclass, Ankur discussed the preparation level of organizations to match emerging skills and super jobs, the growing need for anticipation and embedding learning in the flow of work, and advised how to orchestrate a learning transformation in the flow  of work.

A fact check on the current workforce climate

Here are a few facts to begin with:

  • 94% of the total job growth between 2005 - 2019 has occurred through alternative workforce. Ankur noted here that when we say job growth, one must apply two lenses to it. “One is what new job roles were created - or super jobs as we call them - as well as which job roles significantly changed.”
  • 70% of the companies believe that they need a different mix of talent. “A lot of organizations are starting to recognize the fact that traditional hiring is no longer gonna work, you need a different skill and mix. And that is also reflected in how organizations are starting to operate.” 
  • 17% of global executives reported they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots and AI working side by side, “That doesn't necessarily mean that they are already doing it. They say that they are ready. But if you look at that number, 17%, it's very low in comparison to how much of a narrative has been on this particular subject.”
  • Only 16% of the organizations have a well defined strategy to deal with the hybrid workforce. “We surveyed some of the most critical and significant organizations, and only 16% actually have a well defined strategy to execute on it.”
  • 54% of companies actually have no learning programs in place to build the skills of the future. “Whether you look at it from a future of work lens, reimagining work lens, or how jobs are getting disrupted,  54% of companies have no learning programs at all to look at this. 

While four in ten companies today believe in the profound impact that automation will have, there is a significant amount of work to be done. Ankur shared the learning organization has a very unique role to play in the impending transition, and being one of the main pillars for organizations to succeed and be sustainable in what is to come, it’s going to drive the future of work. “As organizations begin to reimagine work, they will in the process question the whole concept of what work do you need people to do? What workforce do you need? It could be made up of your robots and data science and, and human beings. And then last, but not least, is where do you need the workforce to be, as in proximity of the workforce."

"That’s where learning becomes a key component to prepare the workforce for emerging job roles, to help them leverage data and technology to their advantage, and to foster the ability of anticipation and planning as the future of work unfolds.”

The 7 disruptors shaping the L&D playground

“Technology is advancing much faster than individuals, who are still able to keep up with technology, but businesses, both because of policy, as well as infrastructure, are lagging,” stated Ankur, as he highlighted the 7 key disruptors that form the new emerging playground for L&D.

“You need to focus on data, you need to actually get comfortable with data, you need to actually be able to leverage different tools that provide insights that go well beyond your traditional analytics that you may have been driving in your organization. You're going to actually start to really create conditions for performance in your organization. For that you need data, you need appropriate technology, you need actual processes that you're able to execute against,” shared Ankur.

Almost every job is going to be vulnerable to automation, and while that doesn't necessarily mean jobs are going away, Ankur emphasized that in some shape or form that puts a lot of load on the shoulders of learning and development, because that means that skills need to evolve much faster. “People need to assume different job roles, they need to actually move to a higher order of the job, if you will. And a lot of that responsibility, rests with L&D. As a result of the change, if organizations are reimagining work, there is going to be a change in careers, there's going to be a different approach to how we are going to manage people, how you're going to run your organization, how people are going to learn and upskill themselves and then be relevant to the organization.” 

Ankur also highlighted the explosion of contingent work. “It's not just about contractors, there are new and emerging constructs that have come up."

The whole concept of contingent work is getting challenged because of the shortage of skills, and the contingent workforce is going to morph itself into platforms, it’s going to disrupt traditional ways of doing things.”

Transforming learning culture 

74% of Chief Financial Officers say that they expect to move, previously onsite employees to a remote setup, stated Ankur, adding that there is also a new thought process that, if you are going remote it doesn't really matter where people work from, which has encouraged movement to tier two, tier three cities as well. “Such working dynamics also add responsibility on learning and development teams - How do you maintain the culture? How do you actually build the culture? How do you ensure that the organization feels as one? A significant portion of that sits on the shoulders of L&D.” 

He further shared how these developments have led to newer ways of leading. “While COVID has forced organizations to discover themselves, it's also pushing leaders to look differently at what they do. So leadership, while it has been evolving at a much faster pace right now, that has further accelerated with COVID, because now you have distributed teams, you have different ways of collaboration, which you haven't necessarily adopted in the past. And then you still have the target in front of you, which is to while doing business as usual, disrupt and innovate, elevate and be relevant, create sustainability and be resilient.” 

It’s going to be important for the learning and development organization to collaborate with the part of the organization that looks at employee engagement, to be able to shape the culture. Research has found that these expectations are today driving four key behaviors: Be energizing and inspiring, Empower your teams, Connect, and Grow your teams. These four behaviours in turn are key to address the five main priorities for business leaders based on research:

  • Redesign jobs 
  • Reskill your talent 
  • Re-engineer your workforce
  • Reconstruct teams 
  • Refresh the human experience 

“Redesigning jobs is about creating super jobs. Super jobs essentially include some jobs that didn't exist earlier and some that actually combined cross functional skills to be able to perform certain work or to deliver a certain output to the organization.”

Becoming a mature learning and development organization

Ankur insisted that learning and development organizations need to slowly rise up to the highest level of maturity, and there's two parts to it: 

  • Anticipation: Anticipation of what is going to change within the organization, both from a business angle as well as people angle, and then being able to shape the thinking of the organization to deliver appropriate learning, and learning experiences. 
  • Embedding learning in the flow of work. “Embedding learning in the flow of work is easier said than done. This stretches learning and development beyond the comfort zone, because this is not just about doing a skill gap analysis, or training needs analysis, and determining what programs should actually address the skilling needs."

 "Embedding learning in the flow of work is actually about thinking about what people do in their job role, where they are going to make critical mistakes that cause disproportionate impact to the organization, and then how do you embed learning in that flow of work to be able address that proactively.”

Speaking of tying in anticipation and learning in the flow of work to enable a learning organization to mature, Ankur suggested to start thinking beyond the learning management system, and even beyond the learning experience platform. “This is about actually thinking how do you make the job role that much more embedded with an appropriate intervention in the flow of work, as against learners having to step outside of what they do to be able to do training. And that doesn't mean that you stop doing training completely. But the approach here is that you seek a balance between what is embedded in the flow of work, and what is delivered as a separate intervention.” 

“The learning organization is itself going to have to reskill, because you are going to reskill the rest of the organization for which you need to reskill yourself.” 

Orchestrating a learning transformation in the flow of work

“There are ways for you to actually leverage the many tools you use on a day to day basis to your advantage. The idea would be to make learning an all encompassing experience and an all pervasive experience leveraging whatever tools and technology that you have at your disposal.” Without fearing the possibility of more investments, organizations can leverage existing platforms to their benefit. As highlighted earlier, learning organizations need to rise up in their level of maturity. 

There is also a need to look at learning operations from a fresh lens, because you're approaching it from a future of work angle, and then what kind of curriculum does your organization need the workforce to be proficient in. Additionally, “think about what people need to learn more than the part of your organization that is looking at careers within your organization and determine how to design curricula, how to design programs that are aligned to those needs that are driven by anticipation, which means how careers progress, and how job roles are going to evolve. 

Technology is no longer just a learning management system. There's going to be a learning ecosystem which will need to be integrated with the talent processes, including careers, and you need to start to think about how you will also leverage technology that aids learning. Reinforcing the importance of data, Ankur said, “You have to create a strategy by which you're able to make sense of all of that data. How do you actually derive the right insights, take them to the business or collaborate with the business to then create solutions and address those issues.” 

Concluding the masterclass, Ankur emphasized the need to always be a learning organization.

“You'll actually have to continue to shape the learning culture of the organization and that is also a key responsibility, because the learning culture is going to evolve, because there are going to be new needs that will come in. At the core, you'll always have to be a learning organization.”

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Topics: Learning & Development, #PMLnD

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