The need for learning models to adapt in the face of tech disruption

February 6, 2019

As we explore ideas that will help shape the way the L&D function can enable and support learning, how does the L&D operating model need to adapt to continue to deliver improved performance?

Nothing is immune to tech disruption and the forces of change and that includes learning models. Technology is always evolving and disrupting, outpacing the way companies organise themselves internally, often making it a struggle for L&D to keep up.

Many learning teams report feeling overwhelmed by the current pace of change, but they must adapt and make sure their learning models are future proofed. Falling behind is not an option. The answer is not to stick to the tried and tested and instead focus on agility and scalability.

Technology can do so much now and there is such a vast array of choice – the possibilities are seemingly endless and always changing. This can make it hard for L&D to establish the best course of action. What of the latest, shiniest bits of tech will meet your needs? What do you need the tech to do? What outcomes are you looking for?

In order not to feel overwhelmed by what’s out there, organisations need to have a really clear vision for learning and how tech can enable that vision to become a reality. The tech has to fit the learning, rather than the learning fit the tech, or organisations will always be at the whim of the latest fad, the latest bit of kit.

L&D has to go even deeper than that. It must have a proper understanding of what the learning is for, what it is enabling. The learning needs to have a solid focus and structure and be rooted in real business needs.

And because business needs can change just as quickly as tech changes, L&D teams need to have a model that allows them to flex up and down, quickly and easily, without having to ask for more funding or more capacity. Agility and scalability are key, remember.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has some really useful things to say about developing an adaptable model of learning, including this video on the Philosophy of Learning. Because there are so many ways to learn now and learning means different things to different people, the CIPD says learning teams need to establish and communicate a clear Learning Philosophy.

What is a Learning Philosophy? According to the CIPD, it’s “an inspirational statement which defines key characteristics about vision for learning in an organisation. It states why learning is vital. It highlights what learning is essential and desirable. It explains who is responsible in the learning process and it defines when and where learning can be undertaken and how it is designed and facilitated.”

All employees need to understand the learning vision and how it applies to them – why learning is essential in their organisation, what it will achieve, who is responsible for learning, and when and where learning happens.

Learning models need to be evidence-based and defined according to clear business and employee needs. And the learning team needs to be able to deliver on them too. The Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) has developed the LPI Capability Map in a bid to do just that. To have real business impact, it is essential that L&D thinks about skills that map to business needs both now and in the future. The Capability Map says this can be done by focusing on the following five areas: supporting learning, performance and impact, facilitating learning, designing and developing solutions and strategy and operations.

Articulating a clear vision for learning that can adapt to changing business needs and quickly will help L&D teams stay on the front foot. As will ensuring the team has the right skills to deliver on that vision.

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