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In Conclusion

How to Create Tomorrow’s Learning Today

Learning leaders need to rethink and reimagine what constitutes learning.

A company’s commitment to provide learning of all types is increasingly important to attract and keep top talent. According to Universum Global’s 2015 “Generation Z Grows Up,” a survey of 49,000 members of Generation Z (born between 1994 and 2009) from 47 countries, 15 percent of Generation Zers would consider joining the workforce instead of getting a college or university education. What’s more, 60 percent say they welcome getting information on learning that companies can offer to those with no university degree.

Employees will deliberately select employers based upon the breadth, depth and access to lifelong learning. This transformation of learning from designing formal training to creating on-demand learning experiences requires learning leaders to shift their mindset, budget and give up some control to their learners.

Learning leaders need to rethink and reimagine what constitutes learning and how they communicate this. The focus must be on how employers enable learning — not just create it — and three new roles have emerged as corporate learning departments embrace these changes:

Curator: “Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary,” said journalist Thomas Friedman in a May 16, 2012 op-ed in the New York Times. Freidman was talking about the MOOC movement’s impact on the democratization of higher education. This revolution caused by MOOCs is now impacting corporations. Learning leaders are increasingly voicing a need to curate open learning assets as well as explore development of their own MOOCs for key job roles.

The learning landscape is changing rapidly to account for this new mandate. New corporate learning partners are cropping up, such as Coursera, Udacity, Degreed, Grovo, EdCast, and they provide access to high-quality learning content. Content ranges from MOOCs to Micro Masters, certificates and nanodegrees where learners create their own learning pathways for career development. As a result, learning leaders increasingly focus on facilitating and orchestrating learning aligned to their organization’s growth priorities.

Design thinker: These days it pays for learning leaders to use design thinking to understand how exactly they should serve learners. Design thinking is defined as a human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation that can be applied to product, service and business design. This is now being touted as the must-have skill for corporate learning practitioners. Companies like Cisco, Capital One and MasterCard are using design thinking to reinvent corporate learning with a human centered approach.

The design thinking approach often includes a five-stage process; empathize with the end user, define the problem, ideate new offerings, prototype possible solutions, and test the offerings. The Cisco Breakathon gave birth to more than 105 new HR prototypes covering talent acquisition, new hire onboarding, learning and development, team development and leadership. For example, “Ask Alex: Your Personal Intelligent Compass,” is a voice command app offering fast, accurate and personalized information on HR questions.

People analyst: More companies are creating a people analytics role to use data to improve HR decisions and to uncover exactly how learners are learning. Essentially this role accomplishes a few things. First it collects and analyzes HR data, and then it offers actionable analysis to turn this data into usable business insights.

For instance, IBM is actively using people analytics to aid recruitment of computer scientists. The company’s head of people analytics even has a patent (US 8600847 B1) to help predict the retention risk for employees in key roles. The People Analytics team uses machine learning to calculate the relative importance of geography, compensation, employee and manager engagement at the aggregate level to identify employee groups in key job roles at risk of finding opportunities outside of IBM. These insights go one step further, as the company created a manager playbook to help prevent departures. This initiative has saved IBM about $130 million dollars, as measured by avoiding costs associated with hiring and training replacements.

The future workplace will be nothing like what we know today. Learning leaders must become activists, seeking out new skills like design thinking, adding new roles like people analytics and creating learning experiences, not just formal programs.

Jeanne C. Meister is a partner at Future Workplace and coauthor of “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.” Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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