Responsible L&D professionals are rapidly responding to the fact that we are living in an increasingly transformative period. This new period, classified as the age of acceleration, is described by kinetic changes occurring across our collective professional and personal experiences. This acceleration is also illustrated by massive disruption happening at high velocity to our traditional business practices. It is an age in which entire industries are being reshaped with routine business models being rendered useless in favor of more agile people, plans and processes. It’s a period where the premium for more innovative and effective corporate learning designs and solutions has never been more important.
However, the great news is that the clues to reimagine a more agile L&D organization abound. Additionally, the work to effectively meet these challenges — incorporating new skills, behaviors and knowledge into the enterprise — is what we have been delivering to our current client groups for ages. The major reset is that we need to turn our lens inward with the urgency of now. Only then can we extend our legacy of building the capabilities needed to increase organizational performance at scale in the face of this new economic acceleration. The foundational building blocks for making this reset can be found in the following three steps.
First, we need to think and do everything with a digital mindset. More specifically, we must reengineer learning, not as a series of events that are delivered at a certain time and in certain places, but instead incorporated directly and continuously into the fabric and flow of work. Developing an approach of always-on, always-available digital learning allows an enterprise to meet employees in a more responsive and personalized fashion. With the speed of business, this is no longer a luxury; it’s now vital to organizational health, readiness and operating effectiveness. Additionally, with the broad distribution of smart phones, mobile computing and cataloging systems, the ability to build, organize and distribute digital learning content has never been easier.
Second, we need to incorporate organizational agility everywhere. As L&D professionals, we need to ensure everyone understands there are no processes, people or programs immune to the age of acceleration. To remain static is to admit defeat. With the profusion of open-source quality content from authoritative sources, our ability to leverage these online channels to secure deep domain expertise in organizational agility skill sets is literally a website away.
Finally, we need learning metrics that track to clear business outcomes. Without question, our NPS data that is exemplified by level-1 and level-2 survey results remains important. However, as we place digital learning in the flow of work, demonstrating the commercial impact of this employee-centric design is invaluable. Measuring how skills, behavior and knowledge uplift are allowing the individual employee and organizational group to deliver faster, smarter or better is essential to all talent development objectives. Clearly linking learning to key performance measures ensures ongoing alignment of L&D with the enterprise’s strategic objectives.
Navigating these three foundational elements effectively to enhance L&D capabilities is the challenge of our time. Executed well, it also serves as a catalyst to unlock greater organizational capacity for any enterprise while providing greater career mobility for employees. Perhaps most important, it means the difference between thriving in this age of acceleration and being trampled by it.