Research from MIT and Deloitte found that 90 percent of organizations anticipate their industries will be disrupted by digital trends, but only 40 percent are preparing for the impact of these disruptions. With such a significant variance, what’s a learning leader to do? How can you assess your company’s digital readiness to reskill, redeploy and redefine while cultivating support and generating results?
A strong learning culture is a competitive differentiator; however, it’s not enough to throw new learning technology into the enterprise and expect it to be successful. Change requires a plan that starts with awareness, as well as the creation and communication of a clear vision, and if your vision ignores your current culture, it will never lead to successful change.
Earlier this year, we challenged people to think about the learning culture in their organizations by assessing audience readiness as well as leadership support. What came from that conversation is a powerful list of things we should be doing but that are often left out in the rush for a solution. Here are a few tips and takeaways from the experience.
Determine Audience Readiness.
If you’re going to create a new culture of learning, you have to fully understand your audience and its needs. Talk to the people for whom you intend the new digital learning vision, and find out what they are looking for. Here are some questions to consider:
- What attitudes about learning do they currently hold?
- What prior learning experiences influence their attitudes?
- What approaches have been tried in the past that they liked?
- Is training positioned positively, or is it typically associated with mandatory compliance e-learning?
- How are they currently learning at work?
- How do they learn outside of work?
- What are they looking for in the learning environment?
- What would be most helpful to them?
Without this depth of understanding, you may end up creating something – albeit a new bright, shiny object – that people don’t want and won’t use or that won’t work for them. In other words, you’ll have spent a lot of effort on a surefire failure.
Garner Leadership Support.
Perhaps you have buy-in from your leadership, at least in the form of budget approval and town hall rhetoric, but we all know that to guarantee digital transformation success, leadership support needs to extend beyond signoff. You need a learning champion: someone who fully understands and supports what you are trying to do and will generate excitement across the enterprise.
To find this champion, take a similar approach to what you did with your audience: Know what’s important to your leaders and the business, and identify how changing the learning culture can make an impact. Have a conversation with your leaders to find out what they need. Here are some questions to consider:
- What pressing problems in the business are they trying to solve?
- How are they currently using learning to solve these problems?
- What’s working well?
- What’s not working well?
- What skills need to change in the business?
- What new skills are needed?
Sell your leadership on the potential of a new digitally powered learning culture, and let them be the power users who shout the benefits from the rooftop. The show of support and participation of leadership can be a great boost to bringing everyone else on board with the new learning culture.
Create the Vision.
Now that you know what your audience, leaders and business need, you can craft the learning vision that best fits your organization – one that blends the mission of the business with the needs of the learners. The answers that you’ll receive from your fact-finding will likely be complex and a little scattered, but you should identify common themes. From those themes, you’ll start to see what the future vision should include. Here are a few examples:
- Offer just-in-time learning.
- Learning at work should closely match how people learn outside of work.
- Learning is a journey, not an event.
- Learning needs to allow for self-direction.
- Learning should be social and collaborative.
- For learning to stick, learners need to use the concepts in the workplace.
- Learning must address the needs of the business.
- Learning must address the needs and interests of the learners.
Once you have the vision, share it, and ask for feedback. You’re trying to change the learning culture of the entire organization, so you want to make sure you have it right. An empowered learning culture can set you apart from your competitors.