Culture & Transformation

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A pivotal point: the future of workforce development

As we emerge from the pandemic, assess its fallout in the workplace and look to recovery, business leaders are going to nd themselves facing a dire talent and skills shortage. We knew this when Covid rst struck: chief executives then saw such a shortage as one of their biggest business threats. The chances now are that it is becoming an even bigger threat, particularly in new digital areas, as this report shows. And it is arriving as budgets tighten like never before.

The clear need is to focus intensely on reskilling and upskilling. It is cheaper to develop than to hire. The wisdom of this approach is borne out by the 2021 L&D Global Sentiment Survey, now in its eighth year and published at the start of February. For 3,114 L&D voters from 95 countries, the answer to “What will be hot in L&D in 2021?” was a clear and unequivocal “Reskilling/ upskilling”.

Yet despite knowing the value of and the need for reskilling and upskilling, for developing the existing workforce rather than looking for new talent from outside, many businesses are not putting it into practice with anything like the commitment that’s needed. “Training” is still siloed, it is often about box ticking content rather than true integrated performance development and skills gap identi cation is poor.

On the one hand, this means that many businesses need to move mountains if they’re to overcome the shortages they can expect. That requires signi cant internal change and also replacing some of their large, unresponsive learning management providers with new, more agile players.

On the other hand, it means that for such agile new providers there is a market that is wide open for development with opportunities at great scale.

Based on extensive research, this report explores the key trends, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for learning and development practitioners, organisations, policymakers and founders. Workforce development is ripe for evolution. This report gives vital insights into the form that evolution can take, with actionable recommendations for business, policy, L&D leaders and founders.

Read the full report from emerge Education & Future Learn here.

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Gender equality in the workplace: going beyond women on the board

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 , it will take another 100 years to achieve gender equality based on the current rate of progress. This prediction has been widely used as a shock therapy to push governments, NGOs, associations, investors and companies into action. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, efforts will have to be doubled if we are to avoid losing another 10 years to achieve gender equality2. Based on past experience, economic slowdowns not only disproportionately affect women, but also trigger gender equality topics to slip down governmental and corporate agendas. Women represent 39% of the global workforce but accounted for 54% of job losses as of May 20203. Furthermore, women are over-represented in sectors which are most heavily hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality or the food services industries, further exacerbating inequalities. These inequalities also disproportionately affect certain groups of women, depending on the intersections of gender with race, ethnicity, religion, class, ability, sexuality and other identity markers. 

In 2020, the discourse has shifted significantly from a focus on gender diversity towards diversity and inclusion more generally. However, the lack of data on other diversity indicators and how they intersect with gender has made it difficult for companies and investors to measure their performance and consistently identify gaps in the domain. As a result, most large-scale corporate and financial initiatives tend to still focus on mainstream gender metrics.

Read the Full report and article here.

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Women in the Workplace 2020

The events of 2020 have turned workplaces upside down. Under the highly challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are struggling to do their jobs. Many feel like they’re “always on” now that the boundaries between work and home have blurred. They’re worried about their family’s health and finances. Burnout is a real issue. 

Women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis,1 stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a “double shift”—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible—including school and childcare—have been upended. Meanwhile, Black women already faced more barriers to advancement than most other employees.2 Today they’re also coping with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. And the emotional toll of repeated instances of racial violence falls heavily on their shoulders. 

As a result of these dynamics, more than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. This is an emergency for corporate America. Companies risk losing women in leadership—and future women leaders—and unwinding years of painstaking progress toward gender diversity. 

The crisis also represents an opportunity. If companies make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace—and there are signs that this is starting to happen—they can retain the employees most affected by today’s crises and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term. The rest of this article summarizes the report’s main findings (and you can go even deeper with a behind-the-scenes chatwith one of the report’s coauthors on our blog).

This is the sixth year of the Women in the Workplace study—in a year unlike any other. This effort, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org, tracks the progress of women in corporate America. The data set this year reflects contributions from 317 companies that participated in the study and more than 40,000 people surveyed on their workplace experiences; more than 45 in-depth interviews were also conducted to dive deeper on the issues. These efforts were in the field from June to August of 2020, although the pipeline data represents employer-provided information from calendar year 2019.

Click here to read the full McKinsey Report

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Jane Daly's Worklife Podcast - Nancy Kline: The Promise that changes everything

 

In this episode Jane talks to Nancy Kline about her life, new book and the Thinking environment. 

Nancy Kline is the author of four books including the recently published bestseller, The Promise That Changes Everything (Penguin Random House) and the 20-year bestseller Time To Think (Cassell/Octopus).

She is also Founding Director of Time To Think, a global leadership development and coaching company. Her ongoing research through her lecturing and her work with colleagues, professionals, executives and teams around the world continues to build the body of thought known as ’The Thinking Environment’. 

Nancy is Visiting Faculty at Henley Centre for Coaching, Henley Business School, UK. 

 Born and raised in New Mexico, Nancy is a UK citizen and lives in Oxfordshire with her English husband, Christopher Spence. 

Nancy recommends the following 3 simple things listeners could do to delve deeper: 

- Decide to live for one week without interupting anyone ever, staying interested in where they will go next with their thinking.   - Read these two masterpieces:

Mathew Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux)

        James Williams’ Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy (Cambrigde University Press)

- Invite someone to be a Thinking Partner with you once a week for six weeks. Take Individual turns of five minutes each to think about any issue of your choice with the other’s full attention and with the promise of no interruption. Avoid comment of any kind unless invited. Appreciate each other at the end.      Links to find out more about Nancy and her work : https://www.nancykline.com  https://www.timetothink.com Enjoyed this episode? There's lots more to listen to, sign up here to find out more 

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Jane Daly's Worklife Podcast - Paul Morton: Leadership

 

In this episode Jane talks to Paul Morton about Leadership

Paul Morton has been living and breathing leadership, learning and learning technologies for over 20 years. He started business as a stand-up trainer, then as a coder creating an early LMS, an eLearning author and then as a manager of technology teams. That background combined with a surprisingly useful degree in Scandinavian studies from Edinburgh leads to interesting conversations on leadership, change, learning and business growth with leaders in all industries. 

Most recently, Paul has been working as the regional sales director for CrossKnowledge, a SaaS high-growth corporate learning solution business, leading teams in Europe, the Americas and building channel partners around the globe. 

Born and raised in Scotland, he emigrated to London in 1999 and now lives in Hampshire with his wife and two young children. Paul is a fellow of the learning and performance institute (FLPI) and a fellow of the royal society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce (FRSA). He is also fluent in English, Norwegian, Danish and French.

If you want to explore more, Paul recommends three books, On Leading self, leading others, leading businesses:

How to win friends and influence people - the book I 'prescribe' most to people, first published in 1936 and still sharp and relevant. It's a playbook on how to get better at being human. Buy it here  Influence by Robert Cialdini - how to persuade and guide people towards your desired outcomes. Buy it here Dilbert.com / anything by Scott Adams. A gentle patina of humour and cynicism towards corporate life. (He's also written a great book - How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big) Buy it here  You can find our more about Paul and how to contact him here Enjoyed this episode? There's lots more to listen to, sign up here to find out more 
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Jane Daly's Worklife podcast - Dr Hannah Gore: Disrupting the Norm

Dr Hannah Gore, Independent & Learning Experience Consultant.

In this episode Jane talks to Dr Hannah Gore, is an Independent Learning Experience Consultant on Disrupting the Norm.

After 13 years at The Open University, Dr Hannah Gore was asked to join Solera’s EMEA division to oversee the development and launch of their internal Business School, to train staff in 46 European countries, with further expansion to 93 countries and 37 companies as part of the company’s 2020 vision. 

Hannah joined The Open University in 2005, and developed a range of projects with students and academics, largely in on the theme of improving online communication methods within the web presence of The Open University, which utilised a range of emerging tools, platforms, and techniques to leverage student engagement. 

In her last position at The Open University Hannah worked on several projects regarding the impact of social media on student engagement. With the developing movement towards social learning and its use of hosting on third party platforms, Hannah’s portfolio subsequently expanded to Senior Producer at The Open University, creating content for circa 10 million people worldwide. It was within this role coupled with the culmination of her experience across the domain that led to Hannah influencing and leading the development of aspects of The Open University’s free online learning platforms, OpenLearn and FutureLearn, with additional syndication arrangements to third party platforms. 

Hannah has worked in both the public and private sections, and has graduated with five qualifications, including an MBA and an MSc, from The Open University. As an advocate of lifelong learning, Hannah was awarded her fifth qualification, a doctorate on the ‘Engagement of Informal Learners Undertaking Open Online Courses and the Impact of Design’, providing the academic field with the largest single source of MOOC engagement data to date. 

In her professional career since Covid-19, Hannah undertakes freelance consultancy in a wide range of L&D specialisms, and serves as an Online Executive Panel Member at McKinsey, as well as for think tanks giving views on emerging technologies and the impact of social changes across the industry.

If you are looking to learn more about Disrupting the Norm , Hannah recommends:

Keep up to date with Hannah's blogs at https://drhannahgore.com/ and https://thecanonburyconsultancygroup.com/ Follow: #WomeninLearning on LinkedIn for updates across the learning industry and to join the network  Read this insightful book called Physical Intelligence by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton, Click to find out more or to buy it  If you want out more about Hannah's & Connonbury Consultantcy Group click here  Enjoyed this episode? There's lot's more to listen to, sign up here to find out more

 

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Jane Daly's Worklife Podcast - Nigel Paine: Self-determined Learning

 

In this episode Jane talks to Nigel Paine about Self-determined Learning 

Nigel is a change-focused leader with a worldwide reputation and a unique grasp of media, learning and development in the public, private and academic sectors.

He has extensive experience in leadership and consultancy with public service broadcasters, SMEs, global industry players, government and education institutions.

Nigel focuses on the use of learning technologies, organisational development, leadership and creativity with a spotlight on maximising human potential, innovation and performance in the workplace. Nigel is a strategic thinker, able to motivate, lead and drive organisations forward to deliver business and training

Nigel has been involved in corporate learning for over twenty years and was appointed in April 2002 to head up the BBC’s Learning and Development operation. Under his leadership, the team developed a brand-new on-boarding experience, a comprehensive leadership development programme for over 6,000 staff, an award-winning intranet, and state of the art informal learning and knowledge sharing networks.

Nigel recommends the following if you would like to delve deeper into Self-determined Learning:

Something from the Past: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/opinion/learning-emotion-education.html.   This focusses on the relationship between emotion and learning!

Something from the Present: Reich, J. (2020). In Failure to Disrupt, Why Technology Alone Can't Transform Education. Harvard University Press. This is a great read and I hope you enjoy it, if you invest in it! Buy it here 

Something for the Future:  I like to think of this in the context of the future, and having “Hope”, so I would like to recommend my book:  Workplace LearningHow to build a culture of  continuous employee development.   It is available from www.koganpage.com and if you use the code: FRIENDSOFNIGEL  at checkout will get a 20% discount and free postage.

You can find out more about Nigel here Enjoyed this episode? There's lots more to listen to, sign up here to find out more 
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Jane Daly's Worklife Podcast - Katie King: AI in Business

 

 

 

In this episode Jane talks to Katie King about the facinating world of AI and how it's impacting Business. 

Katie King has over 30 years’ experience and has advised many of the world’s leading brands and business leaders, including Richard Branson/Virgin, Natwest/RBS, Accenture, PA Consulting, Orange, Arsenal Football Club, and Harrods.  Her expertise spans all industries and sectors, with IPO experience, and growth for blue-chip brands and start-ups.

In recent years, Katie has developed a keen interest in Artificial Intelligence, and has become a sought-after thought leader on the topic.  She is author of Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing:  How to Harness AI and Maintain the Competitive Edge, published by Kogan Page in February 2019.  Katie is also a member of the UK Government All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) task force for the enterprise adoption of AI.

If you are looking to explore more about AI in Business, Katie recommends: Katie's book on AI  – my legacy and something I’m really proud of. 

Here’s a link to purchase it and a 20% discount code for listeners:

www.koganpage.com/AI-in-marketing Code:AIMARKETING20

A superb book by Max Tegmark from MIT called: Life 3.0 – a must read!

Click here to find out more or buy it 

Access to the keynote speech on AI in Business 

 https://www.aiinbusiness.co.uk/keynotes

An incredible Dan Brown novel 'Origin' based around AI

Click here to find out more or buy it 

You can find out more about Katie and her work here  Enjoyed this episode? There's lots more to listen to, sign up here to find out more 

 

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Continuous Improvement in Learning – an Organisational Challenge.

Compromising on the quality of learning in an organisation cannot be justified by the need to do things faster or cheaper. But invariably – in organisations that do not value learning – quality is less of a priority than cost management. This is both short-sighted and a threat to organisational performance. In any other area of an organisation when cost savings are sought, quality of deliverables is a non-negotiable when it comes to identifying where savings can be found. Instead, many businesses employ continuous improvement processes – Lean ways of working – and strive to find process improvements to save costs without compromising quality. Learning organisations understand the importance of applying the principles of continuous process improvement in developing, delivering and evaluating learning. 

Continuous process improvement is not new. Kaisen, Kanban etc are all Lean process improvement methodologies that have been used globally for many years. The term refers to the task of identifying opportunities for improvement, implementing changes, and robustly measuring the impact of those changes. There are three key principles that support continuous improvement in L&D:

Continuous process improvement is a mindset not an event Buy-in to the mindset is needed across the whole organisation The process is recursive – Plan, Do, Check, Act

The mindset of continuous improvement refers to the ongoing search for ways to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness – it is the belief that there is always room for improvement and a way to do things better. When this mindset is championed and encouraged across all functions and at all levels in the organisation the opportunity to focus on activities that add value and to reduce everything else drives business transformation, results in productivity improvements, growth opportunity and increased profitability – goals that strategic learning departments should be aligned to and measured against.

The notion of the continuous process improvement mindset fits well with what Stanford professor Dr Carol Dweck called the Growth mindset where individuals who continually learn and embrace challenges improve their overall intelligence and opportunity for greater personal success. (She identified having a fixed mindset as being self-limiting with little opportunity – or desire – for personal improvement where challenge and effort is needed to be successful.) An L&D professional must have a growth mindset in order to creatively deliver when their organisation is under cost pressures and to ensure that they are able to challenge what they do and how they do it in the search for continuous process improvement. 

Learning professionals need to drive the conversation by asking questions of themselves and others in the organisation, eg:

What can we do differently? What does good look like? Why do we do it like this? Where are the pain points? What is the saving here? Where can we add value? Where can we strip cost/time? How can we leverage our current system/processes? What is our measure of success?

Asking questions is the first step in understanding where we can make improvements to services, products, and processes. The process is enriched when others in the organisation outside of the learning department are involved and allowed to contribute without judgement or qualification. There are a number of principles that can help us to work with the outputs of our initial questioning conversations in the search for improvement to our learning: 

Value everyone’s contribution – especially the learners in the organisation. (Encourage them to identify what small things would improve their learning experiences. Or ask them what bothers them about the current way of doing things.) Look for improvements based on small changes - large changes can often be met with fear and negativity. Look for incremental improvements – they tend to be low-cost and low-risk and therefore easier to establish and embed. Check-in regularly. Open communication and constant feedback are  important aspects of continuous improvement. Have a measure. Be clear of the impact that any improvement will make – and tell people.

Once a potential improvement has been identified, take action.

By continuing to cycle through these steps, improvement is always being worked on and evaluated. Each step builds on the previous step, and then feeds into the next.

Plan - In the planning phase, the L&D team will drive the conversation – ask the right questions - to measure current standards, come up with ideas for improvements, identify how those improvements should be implemented, set objectives, and make the plan of action.

Do - Implement the plan that was created in the first step. This includes not only changing processes and ways of working, but also providing any necessary communication and engagement across the organisation. 

Check – This is where the L&D team need to evaluate what impact the changes they have implemented have had against an agreed measure of success. It is at this step that any corrective actions need to happen to ensure the desired results are being achieved.

Act - All the data gathered from the change is analysed by L&D and presented to the organisation leadership team to determine whether the change will become permanent or if further adjustments are needed.

The goal of continuous process improvement for the L&D professional is ultimately the provision of efficient and effective learning aligned to the organisational goals – which is why changes are measured and presented to the organisations leadership. The principle of The Aggregation of Marginal Goals made famous by David Brailsford and his team at British Cycling back in 2003 is a great example of how continuous process improvement can make a difference to performance in an organisation. It is the notion of looking for lots of little improvements in what you do – tiny margins of improvement everywhere. When Brailsford took over British Cycling he looked at everything about the sport, the bikes and the cyclists in the search for those improvements. He and his team redesigned bike saddles, rubbed alcohol on tyres, taught team cyclists how to wash their hands (to minimise the risk of infections), changed the pillows they slept on and the socks that they wore as well as changing their training regimen and diets. Applying the principles of the aggregation of marginal gains saw the team go from relative obscurity and mediocre performance to winning the Tour De France and dominate cycling at the 2012 Olympics – and beyond. Applying the same principles to learning and development can only result in improved organisational performance - find the 1% improvement in every aspect of L&D. Adopting a continuous process improvement mindset can only lead to growth in the success of learning that may be cheaper and may be faster, but that will not compromise on quality. 

Learning is continuous, and so therefore should be the search for improvements in how we approach it within our organisations.

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Making L&D Relevant – Again.

Is it provocative to ask if L&D is valued in your organisation?

If value is measured in curriculum content, availability and training attendance then perhaps not. But if the question is framed around the currency of relevance and commercial impact then it becomes harder to be positive about the perceived value of L&D as a strategic partner. 

Mounting evidence tells us that L&D needs to change if it is to remain – or some may challenge become – relevant as the future of work unfolds and creates new demands on how organisations need to develop to secure their existence. In the 2017 report Driving the New Learning Organisation (Towards Maturity & CIPD) clarity of purpose is identified as a “central connecting characteristic” of a learning organisation. If we believe that this is true for organisations as a whole then it must also be true for L&D as a function. It is this lack of clarity of purpose that often creates a culture of confusion about the value of L&D evident in how senior leaders view L&D professionals within their organisations. 

The Open University Business School reported in 2017 that two-fifths of international organisations didn’t have a global strategy for learning and 42% of L&D decision makers voiced concern that leadership teams do not value learning. Some of the blame for this lack of value must sit with L&D. In order to define their clarity of purpose, L&D professionals must decide if they are merely a support function that jumps to respond to the whim of a manager or a strategic player capable in playing their part in contributing to the four critical levers of business – growth, transformation, productivity and profitability?

L&D professionals need to align their value proposition within the frame of their organisation’s currency of relevance – operational priorities and commercial imperatives. Work by the Institute for Employment Studies as far back as 2009 identified the three core skillsets for an L&D professional as business understanding, technical L&D skills and consulting or business partnering skills. Today’s L&D professional while aware of the need for their own continuous professional learning are still falling short in demonstrating their value through partnership and understanding.

If the ambition is to move from being viewed as a cost center to gaining traction as a business partner and to align to the future needs of the organisation there has to be a shift in skillset and mindset in order to deliver core and strategic L&D.

From To Through

Transacting 

Transforming

Delivering the currency of relevance

Fixed

Growth

Embracing the discomfort of uncertainty

Create

Curate

Accessing the multiverse of content

Push 

Pull

Giving learning customers choice and control

Pedagogy

Heutagogy

Facilitating self-determined learning

Owner 

Custodian

Making content easy to find and access

Knee-jerk

Insight

Learning strategy driven by data analytics

Tick-box

Bottom-line

Learning with an overt commercial measure

Educate

Enrich

Stimulating content in a vibrant environment

To move from being viewed as a cost center to a strategic partner L&D has to become enabled through a new combination of skillset, mindset and outlook changes:

Develop commercial thinking in L&D professionals - challenge the value of the learning and organisational customer experience. Challenge operational legacy – connecting what has been and is being done to new model learning. Develop an agile mindset – give permission to try. Think creatively – be active in developing non-conformist solutions. Value L&D as a strategic partner – develop a tone of voice within the Leadership and HR environment so as to be a driving partner not a functional servant. Strengthen the proposition - blended teams of L&D, OD and Talent specialists collaborating on projects aligned to the 4 critical drivers.

L&D need to be able to tell their story of worth, the rationale of why they need to have a seat around the strategic decision making table. They need to look inwards at their structure, skills and mission to ensure that they can become more relevant and be recognised as a value-add function that is able to align and deliver through the organisation’s currency of relevancy. To paraphrase Jim Collins, L&D professionals need to preserve the core of what they do while stimulating progress to secure their future.

Is it provocative to ask if L&D is valued in your organisation? 

Leave a comment to let us know what you think.