Take a moment to think about how digital disruption is affecting the business you’re working in. Not you personally or your department, but your actual business or industry.
Requires a bit of thought, doesn’t it?
It’s not easy to analyse all the moving parts. The relentless pace of change means that patterns, consequences, outcomes and solutions are difficult to articulate, let alone solve.
This is the quandary that most senior leaders are in at the moment. They don’t know how to respond to the new world order, and if they did, is the business able to change quick enough? Are there enough people with the right skill set and leadership capability to execute the target operating model?
Digital disruption is really causing a state of confusion. Add to that confusion an uncertain political and economic climate and it becomes even harder to decipher a clear vision.
This is therefore the perfect time for HR and L&D to make an impact. Because all the issues are about people – the skills gap, productivity, engagement, performance. So as an L&D professional, how do you create a learning strategy, culture and strategic partnership with the business; and one that is agile enough to deal with constant change?
Well, there is an approach that may work for you, but first it’s important to understand the external factors that are at play and what your leaders are up against, in order to understand how agile you will need to be, as will your approach to learning within the organisation.
The pace of agile tech disruption and consumer adoption
For the first time, it’s not the big companies that are driving new ideas and imposing their brands on us. Rather, it’s us as consumers that are choosing new trends and making or breaking companies.
The rapid consumer adoption of new technologies is driving unprecedented business growth, as the chart below shows:
It took Google eight years to reach a valuation of $1 billion. It took Uber only four. And Xiaomi, a name many in the West haven’t even heard of, took only two. Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that makes smartphones, mobile apps, laptops, and IoT devices. In fact, it’s now the world’s 4th largest smartphone manufacturer, and its valuation stands at around $46 billion. That’s an incredibly rapid rise, one that wouldn’t have been possible in the pre-digital world.
And whilst the value of organisations is soaring quickly, the price of new technology is going in the other direction, the second factor in digital disruption.
The cost of advanced technology is plummeting
It’s becoming affordable for everyone, and businesses can change rapidly without incurring the kind of capex that would have previously been prohibitive.
The price of industrial robots is now cheaper than hiring a person – and potentially more reliable! It wasn’t that long ago that the Genome Project started trying to trace the genes in our DNA through years of work. Now we can order DNA testing kits online.
And the third thing fuelling the rapid pace of disruption is the fact that distribution costs are in many cases, a thing of the past.
Digital distribution costs almost nothing
The distribution of digital content and products costs more-or-less nothing, increasing the scale and pace of adoption even further. Digital distribution is gaining pace. Even B2B buyers make around half of their purchases online, without the intervention of a sales rep. This change in buying behaviour is obviously affecting brick-and-mortar retailers but also reshaping the role of salespeople.
Just to put it in context, in less than 20 years since going public, Amazon is today the eighth largest employer in the US.
So how are business leaders responding?
In research recently compiled by Deloitte, which interviewed 1600 C-level executives from all over the globe, have a guess at what percentage believed that they’re doing all they can to build the right kind of workforce for the digital age.
That’s a clear majority, and a good response for us in L&D and HR, showing that business leaders are willing to support our endeavours.
Given that figure, then, what percentage do you think regard talent and HR issues as a high priority?
That result, from the same group of people seems to be contradictory with the previous statistic, and further, only 14% of business leaders are highly confident in their ability to harness the changes associated with Industry 4.0. That in itself is quite startling, and only 25% are highly confident that their workforce has the skill sets needed for the future.
These contradictory statistics show that whilst business leaders understand the threats, there is little confidence in being able to frame a response and execute on priorities and opportunities.
The key reason for emphasising this analysis is that if L&D sit back expecting the business to have a response, vision and direction, it appears that this may not be very forthcoming.
Radical change is needed
It’s clear that the current approach isn’t optimal. 57% of jobs are potentially set to be automated within 5 years and the useful half-life of a skill has dropped from an average of 30 years to 6.
In the future, every company will be a technology company. How can we build a learning framework that is agile enough, that can respond to business issues at a time of the greatest change we’ve ever seen – one that can change behaviours and secure adoption at an increasing pace? Given the business’ confused response, I would advocate L&D and H&R paving the way.
The first step is knowing where the business is in the wider context. Is it an incumbent or a disruptor? Who are its competitors – traditional and new threats? There will be pockets of people that are forward-looking and have worked out where the business needs to be. Tap into these people and ask them what they need their people to be able to do for them to succeed. Then, make them accountable for people issues as L&D and HR can only be a trusted advisor, a facilitator to challenge, execute and enable. The business must take ownership – ownership in identifying needs, following through on initiatives and measuring results.
Strategise, strategise, strategise
A modern learning strategy needs to:
- Start with business performance
- Plan for disruption
- Make learning continuous, personalised, at the point of need and in the workflow
- Build essential skills
- Mine data
Here’s how it can do so.
Business performance and planning for disruption
Every business is on a disruption curve, indicating how it is responding to disruption at certain stages of its development. It’s important to know whether your business is an incumbent or a disruptor and where they are on this S curve, because different parts of the curve present different challenges.
Knowing where you lie on the curve allows you to wrap your learning strategy around these challenges, and also to predict what your pain points will be in the next few years and what kind of resistance or barriers you can expect internally.
The above model is from McKinsey, and I recommend you try and situate your own business on it. Are you in a myopic phase, for example, where things are going swimmingly, and the business is avoiding pain to the extent that inertia creeps in? Or are you instead a disruptor, where the opposite is likely to be taking place?
Try taking this model to your stakeholders, asking them to plot where they think the business and its competitors are and then start the conversation about what the actual needs of the business will be in the next 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
For even more insight, try supplementing this with a survey of a representative group of learners in the part of the business you’re trying to reach. This helps situate the business, transfers accountability for people issues to it and allows learners to determine what they need to fulfil the business vision.
Following on from those discussions with learners, your strategy needs to consider how to make learning continuous. I see organisations with great induction plans and executive or high potential learning, but somehow everyone in the middle is ignored so that the greatest mass gets the least attention.
This is the type of deficiency your strategy needs to address, for instance by targeting that middle ground, or by creating smaller, more personalised programs. These can be more adaptable and effective in times of rapid change, such as the quick adoption of new systems and processes.
You can also include new digital learning technology that keeps up with change and delivers learning at the point of need. Some of the latest performance support tools we have developed, such as Saffron eaSe, sit in the background but can recognise exactly where the user is in any system or desktop app to provide context-sensitive help. These tools can help extend the learning process and take some of the burden off pre-emptive training.
Point-of-need learning can bring the kind of technology consumers are used to adopting into your learning strategy – on-demand, personalised, in the background. They help clear head space for learners to be more productive and creative, and nurture critical analysis rather than learning by rote. All the more important given the dropping half-life of skills.
The new wave of digital learning also helps generate and track data, the great resource of the digital age and one that you should be using.
Data is your biggest differentiator
I constantly hear from L&D “We don’t have data” or “we’re not allowed to use it”, or “GDPR is getting in the way”. The much more likely reason is that people just don’t know how to use it. Indeed, as little as 18% of learning professionals have skills in data analytics.
We’re currently working with a data science company, and have managed to source data from their LMS, from appraisal systems, from assessments, from business KPIs, from HR databases… the list goes on.
This data gives the client insight into not only the current capabilities of learners, but also what kind of people will be successful now and their attributes; what will take them into the future and who will be the next generation of leaders.
You need to find the data in your business, because it allows you to make the business sit up and put the HR agenda back into the Boardroom.
A framework for learning
So how can you draw all these strategic considerations together into one structural framework that accompanies the learner throughout their whole learning journey? One approach is to use the following framework based upon Mosher and Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Need:
If you can use the disruptor curve context, business performance focus, continuous learning prioritisation and data discernments together with learning moments of need, then your learning strategy will get ahead of the pack.
While it might seem like a race, it’s an iterative cycle of continuous improvement. So get ready for the marathon but start now – or get left behind!
We’ve got something to help with that…
Digital disruption survival kit
‘I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.’
How much would you trust a doctor who simply had to tick a box to prove their medical abilities? What about a banker, or a plumber?
How many of us tick a box when trying to get to something online, without looking at the small print?
You intuitively know that reading something (or claiming to have read something) is different not only from having done it, but also vastly different from being able to apply it.
The skills gap. Schools and universities are blamed for it, the rise of tech is said to multiply it, and individuals are told to learn new skills – fast. In the workplace, digital learning and performance support tools can make new skills acquisition faster, increase productivity and leave time for innovation and creative thinking. So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Saffron Interactive recognised as Top 15 Learning Technology Provider by the Learning and Performance Institute
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of transformational digital learning experiences, has been named in the LPI’s list of top learning technology providers. The list recognises those companies that achieved the highest results in the LPI’s annual accreditation process and endorses Saffron as an LPI trusted partner.
Over the past few years, many people have been questioning the value of elearning courses – including people within the industry itself. With so many ways in which organisations can now deliver learning, what use is there in an overlong ‘click-next’ SCORM package? Read more
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, will be exhibiting on stand D90 at World of Learning, NEC Birmingham. Attendees will be able to test drive the latest point-of-need learning technology and register for a copy of Saffron’s essential Digital Disruption Survival Kit.
So, you’ve finished the planning stages of a project, you’ve aligned the team with a single vision and the content has been developed. What’s next? You need to write learning design brief to help your design team bring that vision to life. These 5 key tips will show you how.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, has been shortlisted for ‘Best use of learning technologies to ensure compliance’ at the Learning Technologies Awards. The nomination comes for their work with ACCA on developing a global programme entitled Handling data the ACCA way.
Change. It has the potential for growth in the face of accelerated technological advancement. But employees are only human and we tend to resist change. As the skills gap yawns, how do we help people get past the resistance and into action? How do we then get them into constant adaptations of change to help our businesses to survive?
The workshop will take place at LEARNING LIVE, etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate on 6 September. Noorie Sazen, Saffron CEO and digital change expert, will guide learners through building a learning strategy that keeps pace with the modern work environment.
Change is the source of all growth, but employees are only human and tend to resist it; it can be hard to gain traction for change initiatives. As the digital revolution gathers pace and the skills gap yawns, how can organisations help people get past resistance and into action to adapt and help the business to survive?
Saffron Developer Intern Georgi Damyanov reveals his top 10 takeaways from a year in Development at Saffron. Code, business, and… beer?
Change or die. Adapt to survive. It’s not just a biological imperative, but also a business one – now more than ever. It’s the stark choice facing almost every organisation.
You might think I’m being a little dramatic. Well, more than half of the companies on the 1999 FTSE 100 were no longer there in 2015. Many have been ripped apart by their competitors or become entirely extinct. It seems like every day we’re seeing a stampede of cutbacks, job losses, profit warnings, takeovers, even administrations and bankruptcies.
The free session will take place at London Olympia on 12 June. An expert panel will answer audience questions and discuss practical strategies for effective and successful change programmes, including real life examples of how to keep up with the relentless pace of change in the digital world.
Saffron Interactive and Maternal Mental Health Alliance making sure perinatal mental health is Everyone’s Business
Saffron Interactive, award-winning digital learning technology company, has redeveloped the Maternal Mental Health Alliance website, helping to improve the delivery of vital resources to women with perinatal mental health issues.
With 25 May 2018 fast approaching, the pressure to get your GDPR compliance training in place is mounting. But, for once, Google isn’t much help. A simple search for ‘GDPR training’ yields nearly 3 million results in less than a third of a second. Narrowing the search down to ‘GDPR training London’ only halves that number of results, still leaving us with 1.5 million options to wade through. How do you know where to begin?
We all know that poor user experience can actively hamper learning. But on the flip-side, a positive user experience can take user engagement to the next level and cement real behavioural change. By creating a UX that’s designed to delight and feed our brain’s cue-response-reward cycle, you can create microinteractions that really can enhance emotional investment in learning and application.
As consumers, we’re a demanding bunch. We expect personalised, relevant, instantaneous information at our fingertips, and what we expect in our daily lives inevitably filters down to our expectations of workplace learning. Learners know that if they need information, it takes a matter of seconds to find it on Google. The problem is, that information is often far from relevant, and even further from your organisation’s policy or culture. We need to compete with Google by creating point-of-need learning tools that essentially offer learners a better service. No mean feat.
I recently attended the Learning Technologies show, and one of the most useful seminars I saw was called “Does VR training really work?” It confirmed my thinking about what constitutes a truly useful application of VR in learning, rather than just a fad or an ego project. We’ve taken a look at the new dimensions VR can open, and some of the ways in which it might be overly hyped. But what exactly are the training scenarios it fits best? VR could be either the greatest learning asset, or a huge waste of money, depending on your VR learning needs.
VR has been getting massive attention in every field, with learning and development being no exception. Even back when it was still in its formative stages, before VR devices were publicly usable, everyone imagined the training potential. Clearly, simulations are immersive and make learning transfer and application more easily achievable. And what can take simulations to another level entirely? VR.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning learning technologies and consultancy provider, has continued to grow in influence in the digital learning sphere, increasing its rating in the 2018 Fosway 9-Grid™ for Digital Learning.
Saffron will unveil eaSe, their new point-of-need learning tool, on Stand E9 at this year’s Learning Technologies show. The event takes place on 31 January to 1 February at Kensington Olympia, London.
The technological revolution is changing every aspect of our lives, and the fabric of society itself. It’s also changing the way we learn and what we learn. Factual knowledge is less prized when everything you ever need to know can be found on your phone. There’s no imperative to be an expert at doing everything when you can watch a video on YouTube and then emulate it, as so many of us do.
But how do L&D keep up with technology in a large enterprise and keep pace with the way that people are absorbing and using information? How can this still feed into the strategic priorities of the organisation – which themselves are constantly changing? How can all of this change be implemented quickly and make an impact as well as be cost effective? These are the questions that organisations have been grappling with, and they’ll only become more pressing over the course of the next few years.
I don’t have the space in this blog to talk about how we at Saffron are helping clients with the answers to those questions! I do, however, have time to talk about one potential angle of attack, sparked by the book I’ve been reading, Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration by Karl M. Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll.
It’s official – Christmas is well and truly over. The tinsel and decorations have been put away for another year and the wrapping paper’s in the bin. No more lazing about in pyjamas all day watching festive films. No more reaching out for one last mince pie. It’s time to look to the future and think about what you’re going to achieve in 2018. So, this January, (like every January), I’m joining millions of people around the globe who are making new year’s resolutions and promises.
You may well be one of those millions too. And even though 80% of us will have broken our resolutions by February, it’s inevitable that we’ll repeat the process when January 2019 rolls around. Why do we put ourselves through this? Well, as humans, we’re on a never-ending journey of self-improvement, constantly striving to be better.
But where most fail, some succeed. How do they do it?
It seems that for anything we can improve at, there’s an app to track it and make it quantifiable.
Humour (if done well) can really make a learning course stand out. It creates a more relaxed environment in which learners feel more open to trying things out. No one minds getting things wrong – a great way to learn – if they’re having a laugh. Humour in learning (if done well) also reverses the tone of top-down authority which learning courses so often adopt, and it fosters an emotional connection between learner and learning.
Those warm fuzzy feelings have a tangible benefit. Humour (if done well) is one of the most effective ways of engaging learners. Neuroscience shows that when we laugh, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter which activates reward-motivated behaviour and participation. So it not only biologically invests learners, but also increases retention. With all that in mind, why wouldn’t you turn your learning into Seinfeld on steroids?
Winter is here. The long dark wait for the next season of Game of Thrones has begun. This break from the action allows me time to ponder a question that I’ve been asking myself for a while now. What exactly makes it one of the most popular TV shows in the world?
The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale set another ratings high with 16.5 million viewers of the live airing alone, and this insane popularity shows no sign of abating. George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series, ably brought to life by HBO, has been compelling enough to capture the hearts and minds of people around the world. In the digital age, it may just be the most streamed and downloaded TV series of them all. Not bad for a fantasy epic set in a magical medieval kingdom.
But what have dragons and drama got to do with elearning? How might we take the elements that make it such a phenomenon and use them to make learning that’s just as popularly consumed? After all, using pop culture in learning can have tangible benefits.
It’s accepted wisdom now, at least in enlightened circles, that a learning or content management system needs to have the learner’s user journey and experiential needs at the forefront of their minds. At the basic level, every platform should ensure users can easily navigate and interact with the system and, in the age of the social LMS, with each other. But let’s look at 10 ways to use heuristic evaluation to make that user experience so smooth that learners will just keep coming back for more.
If they’re not getting the right training, that is. If you’re not developing your team properly, they’re 12 times more likely to leave. And if they leave, good luck replacing them, as the chance to learn new skills and grow professionally is the #1 driver for talent to join an organisation.
That 40% is a frightening number. Yet it’s easy for those of us in the learning and development community to become complacent and think it couldn’t possibly apply to our organisation, given how much of our time is taken up by delivering training. However, two out of every five employers have provided no training at all within the last twelve months, and for the three out of the five that have, plenty of it isn’t hitting the mark.
This deficiency in learning provision not only reduces productivity and efficiency, it also disengages employees, leaving them feeling both stranded and uninspired. In the worst cases, they can become a drain on others’ time by requiring frequent guidance, or just stop trying to develop entirely.
How can we, as learning professionals, remedy this disengagement stemming from insufficient or inadequate learning opportunities? The truth is that for learning to be truly effective, you can’t just put your learners through a formal training session and send them off into to the workplace, to be dragged back in in another six months.
Over the last few decades, HR has been afflicted by bad press. Labelled with questionable misnomers like “human remains,” it’s suffered from employees and board members’ lack of faith in its:
- Business acumen
- Financial capability
- Global perspective
- Customer focus
In short, it’s not been perceived as adding value to an organisation, but rather as a cost. Sweeping changes to the world of work in the near future will mean this perception needs to be changed, but how can it be?
Saffron Interactive stays at the cutting edge with 10 years “Accredited Learning Technologies” status
Saffron Interactive, a leading provider of transformational digital learning experiences, is entering its tenth consecutive year of accreditation by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI).
I was lucky enough to have really cool teachers at school – you know, the type who taught game theory using the bar scene from A Beautiful Mind, or aspects of US government systems using episodes of The West Wing, or Freud’s idea of the Return of the Repressed using the opening episode of the 2nd series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Making a connection between whatever you were learning about and the big TV shows of the day, a classic film, or a national sport would instantly attract the full attention of us pupils and automatically attribute a degree of Awesome to the teacher. Suddenly something we already cared about was relevant to the lesson; so of course we were going to be more engaged, pay more attention and be more likely to recall that lesson. They were using pop culture in learning.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, will be exhibiting on stand B160 at the free World of Learning two-day event on 17 and 18 October at the NEC Birmingham.
Now that the final version of iOS 11 is available to download complete with ARKit capabilities, the app store is overflowing with AR apps to explore. Apps such as Ikea Place have been spearheading the flood of AR puzzles, games and tools making their way onto consumer phones across the globe in the last few months.
As much as I’m excited by the prospect of adding random AR GIFs to my surroundings, the sparkle of some of the more frivolous apps will begin to wear off very quickly. Once AR fever dies down, we’ll be left asking an important question: what value does AR add to an experience?
Agile, adj. – able to move quickly and easily. Is that how you would describe a standard approach to project management? Probably not. However, the agile method is an increasingly popular mode of project management and software development that tears up the process rulebook. It represents a method that’s more suited to the fast pace of the modern business environment, where requirements and risks can change at a drop of a hat. Taking up an agile approach allows your organisation to adapt to these changes much more quickly than any traditional method.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, has been shortlisted for Best learning technologies project – international commercial sector at the Learning Technologies Awards. The nomination comes for their work with Amec Foster Wheeler on developing a global programme entitled Pathway to people management.
Whether designing websites or learning experiences, one of the issues a developer needs to consider is accessibility. This means being able to design content that can be consumed by as large a target audience as possible, including those with any form of sensory impairment. A key feature that is often overlooked when striving for accessible design is colour selection, and how the eyes perceive these colours. This article will take a look at how to properly use accessible colour design whilst keeping your design vibrant.
“You don’t have to be an Ad to work here, but it helps” — how Strategic HR will be the new Don Drapers
As HR moves from the operational to the strategic there are going to be changes.
HR is now responsible not only for the operational needs of payroll, reward and recruitment, but also for growing the greater brand culture.
Culture is of course all-important from a compliance perspective. From Travis Kalanick at Uber to Trafigura dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, movements fail not because the controls were too lax but because the value culture was absent amongst the worker population. Likewise, I would say that for compliance breaches, reporting and process failures are not entirely due to ignorance, but because employees don’t feel responsible. You can’t police every infraction. You’re going to need strategic methods of improving compliance.
Things move fast in the artificial intelligence sphere. With Elon Musk and other AI influencers calling for a ban on automated deathbots, and an AI bot created by his own start up, OpenAI, now able to beat humans at complex games, a distant future of sentient robots doesn’t actually seem that distant at all. But how could these developments be harnessed to improve organisational or individual performance? Let’s take a look at some of the potential uses of AI in learning to find out.
We’ve previously covered some of AI’s potential applications in the learning sphere, and its limitations, considering whether AI could ever replace the blood, sweat, and tears of a human instructional designer. With the pace of change increasing rapidly, however, there are some steps which AI may well be taking into the learning environment very soon.
Modern slavery is still a huge ongoing global issue, with 20 to 30 million people still estimated to be enslaved in 161 countries worldwide, and 20 new suspected victims found in the UK just this morning.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to publish a statement setting out the steps they have taken, during each financial year, to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place anywhere in their supply chains and in any part of their own business.
It’s a small step towards greater regulatory control and awareness of modern slavery. However, the current issue with modern slavery reporting is twofold. Firstly, added documentation is often used as a salve for insufficient understanding resulting in additional paperwork being created, but little impact on-the-ground. Secondly, accountability tends to be pushed down the supply chain, with confirmation of good practice being asked of the next in the chain until we reach those with no interest in acting honestly, or who simply don’t care.
Learning could address both these issues of understanding and passing the blame, but it isn’t being used to do so. Here’s how it can, and why it should.
The expectation amongst modern employees is that work equals learning. Indeed, learning and development opportunities now rank more highly in graduate employment priorities than salary, according to EY. EY’s head of student recruitment, Julie Stanbridge, stated “we are seeing moves away from structured classroom-based seminars and Powerpoint slides to on-the-job learning in dynamic teams, and through working collaboratively on projects.”
This fits with the prevalent 70:20:10 model, as explained here by Charles Jennings, its biggest proponent, and further explored in his Insight article for us on the subject (coincidentally, I’ve just spotted Charles in our London office). Without getting too hung up on the exact ratio, the idea of the model is that learning and development takes place in three main areas. Only a small proportion (the 10) of this is through structured, prescribed learning. Of greater importance is the 20, representing the time spent learning from others, through mentoring and coaching. Finally, there is the 70, the on-the-job aspect where the learner’s everyday experiences constantly guide their learning.