Digital today is the mainstay of competitive strategy for all organizations. The focus of business to integrate people, process and technology is now universal. We see established and legacy organizations transforming as their customer expectations and processes in business value chain are changing. They are embarking on transformation journeys owing to competition from new age companies, start-ups and agile competitors. Regardless of the size and type, they are donning new avatars and are transforming. Their endeavours of optimizing, innovating, experimenting, creating and realigning have a profound impact on the way people think, feel and act in the workplace.
Digital is transforming how learning and development content is curated, distributed, accessed and consumed
Digital transformation is leaving no part of people and HR untouched. Underlying assumptions, resources, services, skills and perspectives pertaining to learning and development are being challenged and changed. We are witnessing blurring of boundaries between formal and informal, individual and group, classroom and e-learning. Digital is transforming how learning and development content is curated, distributed, accessed and consumed. Today, what we learn is digital, how we learn is digital and why we learn is digital. Here are a few new dimensions of learning which will be pertinent in the cusp of digital transformations:
Workplaces today are flocked by millennials. They are restless and have a need for all things instant. With distractions and limited attention spans, micro learnings with game elements auger well for them. Why talk about those who are millennials only by age, it is also applicable to the millennial mindset. Learners prefer to learn when they are on the go and in the flow. We can hear them say, “Not too much - not too little, not too easy – not too hard, but just right.” The answer lies in what I coin as Crisp Learning. From being fresh and firm like a crisp wafer, invigorating as a crisp breeze, lively and stimulating like a crisp conversation and clear and sharp as crisp reasoning. It’s just right and can mean different things to different people. With right elements and desired flavours it’s just apt for sharpening intellect and skills. I view it as an intervention which is concise yet powerful and fun yet meaningful. It can satiate curiosity and hone competencies in customized yet comprehensive ways. Crisp learning implies curating and delivering personalized learning experiences. It has the perfect content in terms of nature, type and size. It has a blend of myriad learning pedagogy, aids and mediums like classroom, coaching, mentoring, assignments, e-learning, action projects amongst others. Immersive and engaging digital gamification and simulations are highlights of crisp learning.
As businesses strive to be competitive in both existing and new markets, people need to learn at the speed of change in business. I have experienced that when there is informational and intellectual humility, curiosity is triggered and new business ideas are generated. We need leaders who are flexible, nimble and agile –those who can unlearn, learn and relearn swiftly. How can organizations create swift learners? We can make people commit to learning goals with milestones and have metrics to measure applications. Innovation boot-camps ignite creativity and enable out of box thinking. Action learning projects provide opportunities to see knowledge and skills in action. They help in honing a swift mindset and skill set. However, the pace at which skills are changing and becoming obsolete can be overwhelming. Learnability as a competency is going to be most pertinent in the digital age. Ironically swift learning manifests when learners slow down to pause and reflect. They become swift as they prepare for the future by learning from the past. Swift learning is accentuated due to the anytime, anywhere and any device revolution.
Digital transformations offer opportunities for people to share and collaborate with diverse stakeholders across time and place horizons. I call it Synergistic Learning because it’s a lot about learning from and with others. The compounded effect of this learning is very enriched. As Artificial Intelligence gains importance, social and emotional intelligence also become critical. Synergistic learning provides an opportunity to learn from interaction, experience and wisdom of others. Working with cross-functional teams aids synergistic learning. In my experience, it helps expand the width and depth of knowledge and skills. Building communities of practice augments exchange of tacit and explicit knowledge. Both formal and informal formats like symposiums, seminars, cafes and conversations can help in synergistic learning. They foster reflections of best practices and judgement for designing best fits that dynamic context of digitalization brings.
Digitalization sets the stage for shifts in states. In my view, the need of the hour is what I label as Sublimation Learning. It has its roots in the Latin word sublimare, which means “to raise to a higher status.” I thought of this concept as I recalled my Chemistry lessons where molecules in the solid state move fast enough and strong enough to sublimate into gas without becoming liquid. In sublimation learning, the organization as a system reverberates with learning and transforms. Any digital transformation journey needs adoption and integration of change. It is possible through an enabling culture that aids shifting from fixed to a growth mindset. Sharing stories of success and more importantly adversity helps in opening minds of people to unfamiliar and disruptive experiences that digitalization beholds. Sublimation learning channelizes energies associated with setbacks, uncertainties, ambiguities and complexities in the workplace from negative to positive. It manifests in viewing digital as more creative than disruptive process. The role of learning and development professionals will be centeredaround being catalysts propelling sublimation learning in the cusp of digitalization. They will actively champion enablement and transformative culture rather than running scripted training programs. Efforts can be focused on creating passionate, entrepreneurial and start-up kind of mindset will help learners move to higher states in digital transformations.
As businesses strive to be competitive in both existing and new markets, people need to learn at the speed of change in business
Digital is transforming the way we learn and learning will transform the way we digitalize. These new dimensions of learning will make workforce future ready to drive business transformations.