Monday, 10 April 2017

Competitive Advantage Through Disruptive Learning and Development

Digital is reshaping customer experience. Digital competitors are entering markets with radically new offers, disrupting the ways that companies and customers interact and setting a high bar of simplicity, personalisation, and flexibility.

Sometimes we don’t even know who these competitors are until it’s too late.

The shift to pull

To capture new sources of value, companies will need to reinvent their customer experience – how?

Learning and development is key in the workplace, but it too must adapt to these changes, taking advantage of innovative technologies.

With every major economic shift a new asset class becomes the foundation of productivity and profitability: in the past the asset was land, more recently it was machinery. In today’s knowledge- human economy it becomes human capital- talent, skills, business acumen, empathy and creativity.

In the same way our customers are seeking products and services which are tailored to their needs, so our skills development must match the requirements of each individual in the organisation, their job requirements, their previous experience and training history.

How can we achieve this in our organisation?

In today’s work environment, school/ university education only equips the individual for their first job - lifelong learning is essential for every job thereafter. The pace of change demands a dynamic stability between the individual and the job.

This creates a demand for online and mobile platforms that empower both the individual to adapt their skills to the changing requirements of their respective jobs, whilst at the same time enabling the company to record, recognise and reward the individual for the attainment of new, relevant skills.

It starts with strategy: because customer demands are moving so fast, strategy needs to focus on innovation and adaptation.

For such a strategy to be translated into human development, it needs to be communicated to those who will carry it out in a way that that everybody is able to see how its demands will impact on the skills they have today in terms of the skills they will need to be a part of the strategy.

Some may react by not wanting to be a part of the new initiative, thus causing their experience and skills to be relocated elsewhere. For those wanting to be a part of it, the company needs everything in place to make learning accessible, engaging and relevant.

There are a number of  pillars on which successful human resource development in such a dynamic environment are built:

1.     The ability of the organisation and its employees to objectively assess what the skills gaps are in each individual’s case;
2.     A close working relationship with selected education and training providers of high quality who are prepared to adapt their courses to those of the organisation. In the case of smaller organisations, they may consider joint approaches to training providers;
3.     The ability to deliver the training required when the individual wants to engage, not when the provider’s schedule says so;
4.     A close alignment between training delivery and learning in the workplace which is facilitated by a mentoring culture in the organisation;
5.     The ability to assess the impact of courses in terms of improved organisational efficiency and to effect changes to courses based on such feedback;
6.     The ability to record and recognise learning achievement and to mine such information in order to fill vacancies.

Sound idealistic? Then consider the following:

·       HR Magazine reported that organisations investing USD1,500 or more per employee per year on training average 24 percent higher profit margins than those with lower training budgets. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) gathered training information from more than 2,500 organisations and found that those that offer comprehensive training have 218 percent higher income per employee than those with less comprehensive training 1

·       In a study of more than 3100 US workplaces, a 10% increase in educational development produced an 8.6% gain in productivity. 2

Feel like adding to the discussion?

To what extent is your organisation geared to meet the technology disruptions sweeping the world?
Would you like assistance in gearing your organisation’s human development infrastructure to take full advantage of these developments?


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Converging Disruptors- Tsunami of Opportunity

Supply Chain Management Unusual in the 21st Century

The Supply Chain Management industry has become unrecognisable from just a few years ago, opening many opportunities. At the same time we acquire new and exciting tools to equip our people for these seismic disruptions.  

This article explores these opportunities.

Firstly, a couple of considerations and quotes in context:

“According to research done by Stanford University, the amount of knowledge generated in the last 30 years is equivalent to the amount of knowledge generated in the rest of human history.

“Textbooks are becoming outdated by the time they are printed. Curricula are no longer reliable records of what we know. Predictable career paths and stable worldviews are things of the past.

“In this constantly shifting knowledge landscape, learning how to think is becoming far more important than learning what  to think. 

This is a shift away from subject content towards a focus on thinking skills.”

André Croucamp- Totem Media.

Growing e-commerce, EDI communication, emergence of drone technology, cloud storage and big data, omnichannel operations and robotics, dark warehouses – the list goes on.

“Experts now believe that almost 50 per cent of occupations existing today will be completely redundant by 2025 as the skills and knowledge needed by employers changes more quickly than ever.Employees and organisations need to adapt or die.”

Carl Dawson, Managing Director, Proversity

What these quotes and considerations illustrate is that we have two converging disruptors- one in which our current competencies are becoming redundant due to technological innovation and the other in which our methods of equipping people to deal with these changes are becoming outdated. At the convergence of these disruptors is a tsunami of opportunity for those who have the courage to ride it.

How do we ride this tsunami?

“If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.”
Thomas Jefferson
Further thoughts to guide the tsunami ride:

1. Start by challenging our own organisation's “story” and disrupting long-standing (and sometimes implicit) beliefs about how to make money in our given field through the adoption of methods of working and company structures which are infinitely flexible.
Conventional, top down management practices do not bring about these changes- what do, are:
  • Devolvement of the highest levels of responsibility to the lowest organisational levels possible. Put another way, empowering people to make and take responsibility for their mistakes- that’s the only way they really learn. This will also include the inclusion of youth and youthful ideas in the highest levels of strategy formation.
  • Listening, seriously listening, to the lessons learnt by those on the ground and using that information to implement changes which will bring about a more flexible and agile organisation
  • Making the workplace environment a fun place to be
  • Creating facilities to see the organisation as others see it on an ongoing basis and to harness what is learnt to enhance customer centricity 
2.  Exploit the changes in education and training technology. Those involved in training have tools available to them which were unimaginable a short while ago. Virtual reality is seen to be playing an increasing role in training- gamification is proving to be a powerful tool in enhanced learner engagement especially in practical fields like Supply Chain Management.

Interconnectivity and the Internet of Things are key factors in changing education delivery whereby formal and informal training via classrooms, tablets, iPhones, company intranets and all those other media are integrated through a single learner management system to create a powerful tool for achieving world class competence.

Sound impossible? Watch this space.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Corporate Flexibility - How to bring it on

Image Source: Savour the Success
Any business award or achievement in the current environment represents the highest recognition of the ability to take advantage of change in an extremely disruptive environment. The question is, how to inculcate this flexibility into a corporate culture?

Flexibility must be pervasive

Successful companies are those which embrace change, not those which employ a few flexible people.

A fundamental requirement of corporate agility is that decision making needs to be devolved to the lowest level possible. Only companies that have a dynamic workforce can hope to keep up. This suggests that those who directly interface with the client need to have both the skills and the authority necessary to make decisions which satisfy both the client and the company – not easy.

If flexibility decreases with age, then we live in times where we must bring younger people into leadership positions.

In Africa we have an advantage -- over 500 million people under the age of 35-- sponges of knowledge, vibrant, interconnected, tech savvy, family-centric, team oriented, and attention craving.
Successful transformation is therefore less about handing over to the previously disadvantaged than it is about handing over to the younger generation, the Gen Ys.

Gen Ys in the Workplace

There has never been a larger disconnect between two generations than that which exists between Gen Ys and their parents.

A strong characteristic of Gen Y’s is their sense of immediacy, that “want it now” attitude. They woke up to a world that was filled with a succession of events that was completely life changing- Africa is nothing if not a continent in transition. As a result, many of them have made a decision that they need to live life now. They need to get on with the most important parts of their life. And that sense of immediacy, of living life in the current, is something that is very pervasive throughout Gen Y.

It’s not surprising that, in a recent survey, Gen Y’s put career advancement and salary at the top of their list when it comes to factors that influence where they decide to work.

Interestingly enough Gen Y’s ranked training and mentorship in the top three things that will influence where they decide to work in the same survey

The “want it now” attitude goes directly to Gen Y’s eagerness to engage with their employer, drive immediate results and advance in their careers.

It therefore should not be unexpected that, in the workplace, those responsible for mentoring Gen Y’s often have the feeling that they are sitting in a tornado.

Harnessing the tornado

Strong communication and leadership within an organisation are factors that will positively impact Gen Y’s engagement in the workplace

Gen y’s have grown up in a peer-to-peer world, meaning that communication is hugely important to them. So they are used to sending information to peers based on their perception of who could use the information, where it would provide the most value.

These young people come into a corporate environment with that same set of assumptions. So if they have an idea that they think could benefit you, it doesn’t matter who you are, CEO, head of marketing– they’ve got an idea, chances are they’re going to share it with you. That’s the way they’ve always operated and there’s no sign that this will change the corporate world.

This creates huge opportunities to harness these energies. What is needed is a corporate learning culture which leverages technologies that have disrupted the market. Such a culture has stands on three pillars:
  •     Harnessing the power of video learning;
  •     Creating a collaborative environment in which the Gen Ys assist in generating     content; 
  •     Driving engagement with targeted content based on objectively identified skills gaps.

What has your experience been in harnessing the Gen Y tornado?

Are Gen Y’s worth expending the extra effort needed to change them from good ideas and noble aspirations to value adding assets?

What specific mentoring programmes have you introduced for Gen Y’s?