Learning has been the domain of schools and colleges/universities, with teachers delivering knowledge and (hopefully) skills to students to prepare them to become productive members of the society, and, for many students, to be ready for the corporate world. Until now!
With the rate of change in technology and hence the disruption that technology is causing across industries, knowledge (or what you were taught) is fast becoming obsolete. This makes a strong case for learning outside the context of educational institutions and inside the corporate organisations themselves.
Technology Change ⇒ Industry Disruption ⇒ UnLearn & ReLearn
Disruptive technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IOT), Augmented Reality are changing industries. Whether you are in Banking or Insurance, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Healthcare, Automotive or Retail, your business is being impacted by these disruptive technologies. The technology is also driving business model changes and impacting organisational structures and processes. The flux that is being created is giving way to new entrants who are born in this new chaos, and are taking share away from companies who are failing to adapt fast enough to the change.
Companies and employees need to invest in “learning” to stay “relevant”. Forced by circumstance, companies are suddenly required to not only build the business but also build a learning culture. The idea is to provide employees the tools, resources and the time to learn about the changing world they operate in, build communities of practice to discuss its impact on their business, and share best practices from the new playing field to learn from the successes and failures of the team.
With industries being disrupted and business models changing, the need for the workforce to unlearn the old ways and learn & experiment with the new ways has become critical. As Jim Collins wrote, “To be built to last, you must be built to change.”
Competencies and Flexibility
Learning at corporates is in some ways inspired from educational institutions and in other ways very different. While the need for some structure in the learning process is important, the need for flexibility in learning delivery becomes even more important in a corporate setting. While the end goal may not be a “degree”, it is important to recognise employees for their learning investments and provide certifications or competencies or learning credits.
Just like curriculum standards in schools, companies need to start defining learning objectives or competencies that they want their employees to master and demonstrate. Developing learning programs and assessing these competencies should become an important aspect of the learning process in a company. In fact, the process of defining and articulating the learning objectives or competencies that are important for your company is in itself a great learning and reflective exercise and should involve the senior leadership team, along with the HR (Human resources) and L&D (Learning & Development) teams.
Classroom style training workshops have been the norm in corporate training, but the direct costs of running such sessions, and the indirect costs of employee time & opportunity lost, are pushing the case for flexible online learning models. Training workshops should be treated as a part of the learning process, but not the whole.
Blended training courses that retain some face-to-face time for expert interaction and discussion, while providing flexibility and self-paced learning paths are becoming the new normal. Hence, online and mobile accessibility of learning is imperative, and should be non-negotiable.Lifelong Learning: Work-Learn-Life Balance
Learning is a process and in this new paradigm, Learning can/should happen anytime anywhere; Learning should be shared and discussed; Learning should be applicable and relevant; Learning should be just in time and accessible whenever you need it.
Corporate learning should not just be limited to “consumption” activities of reading notes/documents or watching videos/animations, but in order to be effective and really drive organisational transformation, employees should be active participants with opportunities to engage in sharing & discussions and build communities of practice to drive a sustained transformation and learning culture within the organisation.
Students, employees or anyone for that matter may not like the sound of this, but yes, you need to learn for as long as you live. Motivational or not, this is the reality of the fast-changing world we live in. Lifelong learning is critical for staying relevant, successful and employable.
Education institutions have traditionally shouldered this responsibility, but increasingly, corporates will need to play this important role as a response to an existential threat, and to keep themselves and their teams relevant and successful.
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