The secret ingredient to digital transformation

Wij bieden leertrajecten in open aanbod en in-company met een focus op ‘future proof skills’.

The secret ingredient to digital transformation

Can you imagine a thriving business run solely on Artificial Intelligence? Or buying a product in which no human whatsoever was involved? Or imagine an organization without people? Of course you can’t!

…and neither can the people running these businesses. Research by The Conference Board demonstrates that finding top talent that businesses need is the number 1 concern of CEO’s worldwide (see: C-Suite ChallengeTM 2018: Reinventing the Organization for the Digital Age).

You might think by these opening paragraphs that I’m paving the way for an article about the War for Talent.

I am not.

  • True: there is a lot of talk about this war.
  • True: organizations invest billions in recruiting what they hope to be top talent.
  • True: HR has been on the topic for over a decade – not without reason.

But we need to broaden our focus, to wake up and smell the roses. The War for Talent has become too synonymous with recruitment (making sure you get the right people in the front door).

We need to realize that our increasingly digitized world requires more than top talent. It requires people that are willing and able to do different things, are proactive in changing environments, and are able to stay on top of their game continuously.

our increasingly digitized world requires more than top talent Click To Tweet

This means that for any company it’s not attracting top talent that is most important, but the continuous (up)skilling of the people already within the company!

So yes, this article is about learning. About why is learning a strategic advantage for any organization in this digital transformation age?

Opportunities everywhere

Before we explore how learning can become a strategic advantage, I need you to let go of that image you probably have of learning. The image of the education you had in school, of the focus on teacher-led courses, of big chunks of info almost force-fed to students. This is an image from the past!

Today learning opportunities are everywhere and most of it is bite-sized. As Josh Bersin put it during a keynote at LinkedIn: “Every technology platform has turned into a learning tool”. Think  about the vast amount of “How To” videos on YouTube, the numerous insightful articles on LinkedIn, the amount of links shared on Twitter for example. Every text, video, and idea shared online provides some form of learning to its readers or viewers!

It is also important to distinguish between two types of learning. One is the formal training for a specific skill set, for example when starting a new position, mostly referred to as macro learning. These are related to the “big chunks” of information you need to absorb every couple of years or so to keep up with your field.

The other form of learning is referred to as micro learning, which is about continuously polishing your ‘knowledge diamond’. This is the learning we do more informally through our interactions on- and offline. However, most organizations underestimate the potential of micro learning.

Resilience triumphs digital transformation

Back in 1990, Peter Senge coined the term a ‘learning organization’ for organizations where people are continuously enhancing their capabilities. Being a learning organization has never been more important than in today’s world economy. A learning organization and the people it employs have embedded in their core the resilience needed to stay relevant in an age of robotization, AI, disruptive business models, in short: in an age of digital transformation.

A learning organization and the people it employs have embedded in their core the resilience needed to stay relevant in an age of robotization, AI, disruptive business models, in short: in an age of digital transformation. Click To Tweet

And micro-learning is their secret ingredient.

The amount of capability enhancing information is incredibly vast and grows every second. It is literally at the tips of our fingers (on our keyboards, smartphones or tablets). To unlock its potential in our professional lives, we need a sort of “guidance”, something that can help us detect what is relevant in our organizational context. This is the “guidance” an organization’s Digital First Strategy needs to provide. The big question is how to translate that guidance from a strategy into a workplace reality.

Realizing your (digital first) strategy

Making continuous learning mandatory for everyone in the company or merely implementing technological tools for micro-learning, is not the answer. You need to guide others by focusing on the relation between that strategy, your people and technology. You need an approach that is holistic and data-driven. An approach that stimulates and objectively monitors a learning attitude and enables you to intrinsically motivate your talent. An approach that combines on- and offline realities.

Such an approach consists of 5 steps:
  1. Know where you stand: How digitally mature is your company (top-to-bottom) and how digitally fit are your people (bottom-to-top)?
  2. Prioritize your strategy and make it measurable: Data provides insights into the learning attitude of your people and makes it possible to track progress and adapt your methodology.
  3. Create a culture that stimulates continuous learning: Learning shouldn’t be mandatory but something people want to do.
  4. Use the right technology: Technology is a means to an end, not a solution. Opt for technology that is in line with your strategic priorities, provides the right data and scores high on User Experience.
  5. Evaluate and adapt: Being a resilient company requires continuous evaluation and adaptation of your strategy and efforts to guide your people.

Get in touch if you want to know how to deploy these five steps in your company.

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