“Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn” (Alvin Toffler, “Future Shock,” 1970).

The speed of change in our world today requires a level of adaptability for organizations that want to gain a competitive advantage. It’s no surprise that learning and development (L&D) professionals around the world are feeling pressure to ensure that the workforce can compete in such a volatile environment. In a Gartner survey of human resources (HR) leaders:

  • 46% said they “lack the skills needed to drive future performance.”
  • 41% said they “struggle to develop critical talent segments.”
  • 47% said their “learning culture doesn’t support effective new skills development.”

Fortunately, there are four ways the talent development community can conquer the challenges of learning and change:

1. Open Source Learning Platforms

Unlike learning management systems (LMSs), an open source learning platform gives you the flexibility to design an online learning solution that is customized to your needs, rather than fitting your needs into an existing solution. The flexibility of an open learning platform enables you to make adjustments and changes as your organization changes and grows. Because it’s open source, innovation is built into the solution, and your organization can benefit from the creative freedom of countless developers who work to find new ways to enhance the learner experience.

2. Curated Learning

Like traditional learning management systems, out-of-the-box learning solutions do not work anymore. The pace of change is too fast for talent development teams to be able to keep up with developing content in house. Learning is happening everywhere, requiring L&D professionals to become curators of learning who can identify and distribute learning resources and programs throughout the organization. Leveraging a learning platform that can accommodate curated, personalized learning is a must.

3. Hiring for Adaptiveness

To boost talent development efforts, companies should not only hire for the skills and competencies they need today, but they should also look for individuals who are adaptable and have a proven record of thinking outside the box. Careers are no longer linear, and adaptability requires someone who can take on new skills and competencies to be relevant and effective in their work. A growth mindset and a desire to drive impact will ensure that an employee is open to learning and growing continuously as needed.

4. Design Thinking

According to Tim Brown, executive chair of IDEO, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

There are five steps in the design thinking process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. It’s a creative process that helps identify and meet learners’ exact need. With this approach to instructional design, L&D professionals can weed out the unnecessary components of their training programs to provide employees with job-relevant, needs-based learning.

Moving toward flexible, open, and less rigid and canned solutions for learning is the best way to create an organization that can learn at the speed of change. The most talented L&D professionals of today — and the future — will be able to remove barriers from learning in a world where learning is constant and change is expedient.