Digital technology is creating a huge opportunity to elevate the learning and talent development function from a distraction to a driver of business results. But effectively evolving the L&D approach to meet the needs of our always-on workforce is harder than ever. Reality is getting more virtual. Intelligence is getting more artificial. Data is getting bigger.

The difference between the disruptors and the disrupted is what the organization does with the technology available.

Join Bersin by Deloitte analyst, Dani Johnson, for a conversation with 3 corporate learning trailblazers: Chris Trout, VP, Learning & Development at The Walt Disney Company, Barry Murphy, Global Learning Manager at Airbnb, and Amy Rouse, a Senior Learning Technologist formerly of AT&T, on their different approaches to engaging technology to confront the digital disruption happening in L&D.

The live, one-hour discussion will explore urgent questions about learning systems, such as:

  1. How are requirements for learning technology changing
  2. How to navigate the sea of “next-gen” vendors
  3. Why to consider an ecosystem instead of one, integrated system

Register for “The near future of learning technology” webinar now!

For a long time, perhaps too long, the HR and training functions have dictated learning for employees. But workers have started taking things into their own hands as they realize their competitive advantage, their employability, is tied directly to their skill set. This shift from relying on L&D to self-directed has left many organizations wondering what their next move should be.

The best place to start is putting yourself in the learner’s’ shoes and examine the human behaviors around growth and development.

At Degreed LENS, Tim Quinlan of Intel shared the value of approaching your workforce, the learners, as consumers or customers.

“I said, “How do you learn today? What do you want to learn about and how do you learn? If you’re curious about something how do you do it?” And [the management team] said, ‘Well, I have this trusted third party I go to or I do a Google search.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my experience as well… I think what I want is something that will seriously complement or compete with a Google search because that’s the learning tool at Intel.”

Degreed research compliments Tim’s story. Almost 85% of survey respondents said they learn things for work by searching online at least once a week, nearly 70% learn by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.

HR, training and L&D provide the mostly high-value learning experiences people need sometimes, whereas Google or asking a peer or boss for guidance happens all the time, every day, right at the moment of need and not 3 weeks down the road. Recognizing that learning is happening all the time, not just through L&D offerings, it makes sense that “a new type of employee learning is emerging that is more “consumer- like,” commented Josh Bersin during his presentation at Degreed LENS.

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“Learner-centric” practices are at the heart of what more effective organizations deliver in their learning. Organizations that are more mature and advanced tend to deliver a lot less training through traditional methods and more through experiential, social, collaboration. Learning teams that are aligned with and meeting expectations of the larger organization empower “always-on learning, and a culture of exploration and discussion to enable continuous invention1.”

The most important tool in your kit for 2017? Your workers. “If you’re not focused on the experience of the employee, and you’re focused on what you want to do and the content you want to build and how great it is, you’re missing the boat,” added Bersin.

Want to hear more about how organizations such as Intel and Atlassian are embracing the consumer mindset? Check out the highlight video from Degreed LENS in San Francisco.

For more content from the LENS event, visit the Digital CLO content library!


1 – Predictions for 2017: Everything is Becoming Digital, Bersin by Deloitte, 2016

Digital technology is transforming just about everything, and fast. Yet just 33% of organizations say their top-level managers understand and support digital initiatives. If you’re not working on transforming your L&D and HR function for the digital age, too, then maybe you should.

The reality is, the world is changing constantly. And according to major startup investor Paul Graham, it creates not just threats, but also huge opportunities – if you recognize the signals in time and adapt appropriately.

McK quote Digital CLO

The threats that come with being a chief learning officer (CLO), or working for one, are real. Reality is getting more virtual. Intelligence is getting more artificial. Data is getting bigger. It will take a new breed of chief learning officer that can adequately adjust to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Say hello to the Digital CLO.

The formula for success as a Digital CLO in learning and development (L&D) – which is essentially the algorithm for developing capabilities and driving business performance – is well-known:
Alignment + Efficiency + Effectiveness = Outcomes

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Most CLOs struggle to get or stay aligned. Almost 60% of the workforce’s skill sets don’t match changes in their companies’ strategies, goals, markets or business models.

Many CLOs also have a hard time being efficient. As much as 70 cents out of every dollar invested in L&D is wasted on irrelevant, redundant, low quality or unused training.

Most importantly, too many CLOs aren’t actually effective where it counts. Nearly three quarters of CEOs say that a lack of critical expertise is a threat to their businesses’ growth.

Some CLOs, however, are adapting and evolving – even thriving – in the face of all this digital disruption. To find out what the 3 things are that successful CLO’s do differently, join Intel and Degreed for the Digital CLO “playbook” webinar on January 31st. Register for the event here.

The workforce is changing and it’s affecting how we all work every day. It’s also changing the expectations that people have about who they work with, how they work, and where they work. I recently met with a group of Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) and learning leaders to talk about the four trends disrupting the workforce today and how that impacts the way we think about learning in the corporate environment. We uncovered four common trends.

  1. Different generations in the workforce

People have been talking about this for years now, but the reality is that we have many generations working together in the workforce today.  By 2020, 70% of the workforce will be made up of millennials, but in addition, boomers are working into their 70s and 80s.  What does this mean for the workforce and learning?  It means that we are more diverse and have greater opportunity to learn from each other.  As for learning, although it may be true that millennials are digital natives and generally very comfortable with technology, the CLO group I was speaking with agreed that the way people like to learn has less to do with age and more to do with personal comfort level with technology.

Judy Dutton, Senior Director at eBay, shared that there is a large increase of millennials coming into the company. The 32nd most recognized brand in the world according to Interbrand in its annual ranking of Best Global Brands, many don’t know that eBay also does a lot of slick things with technology including big data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2017, their HR function is focused on new ways to attract top talent, especially millennials, by revamping their intern program and recruiting from more diverse universities. Their learning teams are embracing a new digital and in-person on-boarding experience, and completely rethinking their career development and approach to development.

  1. Rise in digital technology

Technology is changing the way we think about both business and learning.  As I wrote in a previous blog, learning leaders need to be tech savvy and include a digital learning component as part of their overall learning and employee experience strategy.

At eBay, a learning technology manager helps drive the ongoing technology requirements for the global Talent and Organization Development team.  This new role has also become more heavily involved with IT, the office of the CIO, and HR analytics since the learning technology need is increasingly prevalent.  But it’s not just about technology; there has to be learning expertise among each employee too.

These are just two of the four workforce trends that are changing the role of learning leaders. We will visit the remaining two trends, an increasing rate of change and the new relationship between employees and employers, in Part 2 next week.

Digital technology has become the gateway to smarter work, learning and play. For Learning and Development and HR leaders, it has fundamentally changed not only our roles and organizations; but our goals and how we accomplish them, as well.

Our roles have expanded. We’re still responsible for education and development, but now add  compliance, performance, restructuring, change management, and culture to the list. All of this is accompanied by technology; but is it really helping us keep up? How can we really utilize technology to enact change and engagement within our organizations?

During the Degreed Lens event in New York, learning analyst Josh Bersin shared 5 things all HR and learning leaders need to know.

Structure needs to account for cross-functional connection.

According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016 report, 92 percent of survey participants rate redesigning their organization as a critical priority. This tells us that the number one thing on people’s minds in medium to large organizations is structure. Our org charts are no longer reflective of how work is done. Thanks to technology we operate cross-functionally, with specific people that have the expertise needed to inform specific projects. When a project is complete, we move on to the next network of people for the next deliverable.

Not all digital helps productivity.

Today’s worker has hundreds of thousands of apps and websites at their disposal, many of them making promises of improving time management and streamlining work and life. But they’re doing just the opposite; enticing us to lose focus every second. Deloitte reported that U.S workers check their cell phones, in aggregate, eight billion times a day. The productivity lost is almost unfathomable. By carefully curating what technologies you choose to use with your L&D initiatives, you can engage employees by utilizing the apps and websites they learn from organically.

If employees don’t have opportunities to grow, they will leave.

What’s the biggest predictor of economic growth for an individual? According to Economist Thomas Piketty, it’s skills; the more quality and in-demand skills you have as an individual, the better. For L&D leaders, this means we need to provide diverse, meaningful opportunities for every employee to learn and fuel their career, or they’re going to find it elsewhere.

Learning is key to individual and business growth.

Learning is important for employee growth and engagement, and it’s also critical to the success of your business. At the Degreed Lens Event in New York City, Josh Bersin said, “you want people to have enough skills to move to new assignments, to move away from business areas that are shrinking. You don’t want to have a business area that’s going out of business where no one wants to quit or switch. That just makes it even more impossible to transform your organization. So we have to build infrastructure and tools and reward systems and culture programs that facilitate development.” Mobilizing upward growth within your company is key.

Learners need the right mix of formal and informal learning.

The percentage of money spent on traditional formal training is dropping every year.

According to Bersin’s Corporate Learning FactBook, from 2009- 2015, investment in instructor-led training dropped from 77 percent to only 32 percent.  While formal training is never going to disappear, it’s not enough to create a true learning culture. We’re learning every day in a variety of ways, on and offline. As an L&D professional, you need a way to bring the best of that content to your organization through curation.

The right learning architecture will create an ecosystem in which learners know where and how to find content.  Most course catalogs contain thousands of pieces of content, so curating becomes crucial. Bersin explains, “you know what happens when you give people ten choices? They don’t pick anything. When you give them a hundred choices, they just shut down the browser completely and don’t even look anymore. But if you give them three choices, they’ll pick one.”

While technology has fundamentally and permanently changed our roles, We can embrace the change by using technology to empower our employees to learn in better, more engaging ways that will benefit their careers and our organizations as a whole.

Want to be live at the next Degreed Lens event happening in November in San Francisco? Request an invitation here.

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