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How Learning and Development Needs to Change

Posted by: Arun
Category: Industry insights

We are living in the knowledge economy, due to technology, workplaces are changing faster than ever. The knowledge economy was popularised by Peter Drucker in his book ‘The Age of Discontinuity’. We have seen how technology is disrupting the business world. In 2006, 4 out of 5 of the top global brands weren’t technology businesses, but this has changed today with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook all listed in the hundreds of billions in valuation as you can see from exhibit 1 below.

elearning - top 5 global brands

Exhibit 1. Source: visualcapitalist.com

Furthermore, other technology companies are changing the landscape in what is now known as the sharing economy, where technology is the gateway between a product/service and the consumer. Examples of this are Airbnb and Uber.

So how does Learning and Development need to change?

Employees are hungrier to learn than ever, and learning is readily available with the internet. As a result, corporate learning is less transactional and more about the learner. In L&D, we need to shift our mindset to think about how we create personal and adaptive experiences. Yes, we will still have compliance training which is mandatory, but learning in our business now needs to develop and grow. This learning needs to be curated and relevant and available at the time employees need it.

Your learners are in control and more demanding than ever, so what do you do?

Learning and Development departments need to change. A typical example would be moving from a traditional ‘chalk and talk’ model to a blended, technology enabled team. These skillsets may not be currently available in your L&D team, you have a few options, hire them in or develop your current people.


“Unfortunately not all L&D professionals will agree or realise the above, they will get left behind.”


What skills do we need in our L&D team to be successful in the knowledge economy?

As Josh Bersin of Deloitte comments, ‘We need design thinkers’. This is creative people focusing on the learner experience with competencies in User Interface design, brand and creativity. In L&D we also need to embrace new technologies, we need to try them and see how they might fit for our organisation. We need to embrace taxonomy when it comes to course design and we need to make it stick. Often similarities to the new skills required are similar to that of marketing and brand teams. This theory has been adopted by many L&D teams such as Nike and Starbucks that realise the importance of branding their corporate universities and engagement communities.