Unsurprisingly, the topic also raised lots of questions, we have included them in the summary.
Q1) On the scenario model, where do you see your organisation now?
There seemed to be a consensus that the answer to this question varies, not only across industries, but also who you ask (seniority, department and function) within an organisation. Most participants of the #chat2lrn placed their employer in the Old Boy category. Many aiming towards the In-Crowd category. Smaller businesses and entrepreneurs were most often placed in the In-Crowd category. Several remarked that the nature of the client organisations they dealt with, dictated how they themselves worked and communicated. Few mentioned the “big data” or “quantified self” categories, which some thought ironic considering the current focus on data gathering and measurement. It was also argued that many businesses in the old boy network, would claim differently
q2) What will the world be like in 2020, economically, socially, technologically?
In light of the current crisis, many expects an economically difficult future, where you’ll be expected to be doing much more with much less. It is expected that organisations and the nature of work will be come less hierarchical, connected & mobile. We expect to be teleworking more, connected to virtual teams by technology. Our dependency on technology will increase. Technological challenges might well evolve from those we’re battling with today, but is not expected to disappear altogether. Technological advances will make things easier, when it works! More teleworking might well result in less commuting, but many worried about the effects being “ON” and “connected” all the time will have on weekends and the work-life balance.
Consistent with the “popularity” of the in-crowd category during question one, many predicted that personal brand and the professional network will become more important. Social media will make it easier to build and maintain a wide network and strong relationships virtually. To compete it is expected that organisations will strive to be leaner and more agile – and the way in which they approach learning will mirror this. Learning will be intuitively connected with business goals and performance. People who understand technology and how they can be used in the workplace will be in demand. It will be learner-driven and technology-enabled culture, where people will expect to have information available at their fingertips.
The role of L&D will be more about helping people cope with the flow of information, build and facilitate communities and virtual relationships. Some predicted the rise of context sensitive applications and devices and immersive simulations, and that touch could be replaced by gestures & haptics.
q3) What major changes does that vision suggest for organisations?
Just as internet made consumers more powerful, it will make employees more powerful. Employees will be working on their terms, self led, on the go, supported by a culture of sharing and mutual support. Seeing how kids interact with technology gives an insight into how much the workplace will need to change by the time they are working. Employees will expect more trust from organisations and the freedom to explore things themselves. The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.
The need for agility and flexibility is also expected to result in blurring of open boundaries, a rise of smaller organisations, networks and communities. To adapt, organisations need to be a new approach to IT risk management and a complete re-think on how they manage and engage their talent. No doubt some of the bigger organisations will resist this change and find new ways of keeping control of staff.
Q4) What changes will be required for learning in supporting organisations?
Learning functions will need to focus on the whole workplace learning ecology – reward incentives, environment, engagement. We’ll move on from delivering training, and become the facilitators and enablers of performance and development. The way people learn inside the organisation will again resemble how people learn outside the organisation. Will we see “the inverse organisation” by 2020? An organisation where the front-end workers are supported by management (not the other way round). Where the learning function will follow the employees lead, and respond to what they say they need to help them perform. Will we get to the point where learning truly is “owned” by the learners themselves?
Employee engagement was central to the discussion on the implications of such changes. To what extent does this ideal to supporting learning and performance, rely on engaged and “trustworthy” employees? To what extent can employees be trusted to do the right thing for the business, for its customers and the bottom line? There will certainly be employees who don’t care and those who are just collecting their paycheque – even in 2020. Is the level of engagement, that some of these ideals seem to rely on, even obtainable? And what are the consequences of not trusting and not giving the freedom that the engaged expect? Or are we already seeing the early signs of employees voting with their feet when their expectations aren’t met?
Another reoccurring topic was the need to gather, filter and curate larger and larger amounts of data, and to make them accessible in the right places for staff to “pull” at the point of need. Employees will need – and expect – to have information available at their fingertips. Learning functions will need people who can make sense of it. The learning functions will need to draw talent from outside its current humanities bias
Q5) What opportunities open up for learning to add value to organisations?
Ensuring people have skills to do their job won’t change as a priority for organisations. L&D should be the hub. Watchword=performance. Becoming business partners with a particular expertise – strong in improving workplace performance. Technology opens up new opportunities to blend learning into work, as a resource to instead of a disruption of it. And rapid advancements in analytics might also improve our understand or where our own ‘value’ lies and where our efforts are best spent.
Which opportunities open up and to who, depends on people’s openness to change and willingness to embrace more than just the terminology. We need action, experiments, risk taking. Learning happens when you step into the unknown, L&D will be encouraging people to do so – hopefully by example!