Sunday, November 02, 2014

Learning and Development issues in Indian Context

Learning and development is the bedrock of talent management. It touches and is the key-driver behind, nearly all parts of the talent cycle and is actually a core enabler for delivering many of the talent processes. In the last two decades the Indian economy has witnessed tremendous change in terms of global competition and technological advancement. As a result of these changes a lot of organisations have had to undergo restructuring which has led to a significant transformation in the work practices. This has led to demand for new job skills, greater levels of workforce which has a big impact on learning and development provided to the employees.

 Organisation Transformation often results in anxiety, confusion, anger and withdrawal amongst employees. According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, less than 8% of hr leaders have confidence that their teams have the required skills to meet the challenge of global environment and consistently deliver innovative programs that drive business impact. 

In order for HR teams to become better business partners, they need to develop deeper business acumen, analytical skills, learn to operate in the capacity of performance advisors and most importantly understand the needs of the 21st century workforce. This, one could say is the responsibility of the learning and development team to make sure the employees acquire these right tools over a period of time which could positively impact an organisation’s business results. Sadly though, despite of the challenges and need to overcome them, merely a few organisations are emphasizing on the need for training and development. The organisations which do don’t have effective modules. 

An issue with regards to the training and development modules are that most of them are one size fits all kind of training. The training imparted is based without judging the caliber of the individual in question or the job profile. Often trainers conduct programmes without considering the background of people involved and whether they understand the process in consideration. Also most trainers still continue with the old format of PowerPoint presentations without any add-ons in the form of videos, games or any other entertaining ways of getting the message across. 

Shifting focus to those being trained, it has been seen that the participants of a training programme consider the training to be a time to relax from their busy schedule and have fun. Often it has been seen that these participants don’t take the trainings seriously. It would be safe to say that that in order for the process of learning and development to be complete and show results in the financials, trainers must understand the end customers and the main reason behind why the training is being conducted while the participants need to buckle up and show some seriousness and genuine interest towards these programs .

                                                                                                                               - Sarthak Daing

                                                         (Batch 2014-16)


Our task is to take those 50 ideas to change Learning and Development. Explain how and why we can/have/should make it happen. Alternatively, why they shouldn't. So, the big 50
  1. Make connectivity and sharing a catalyst for all learning.
  2. Stop claiming every person will be competent.
  3. Have people design their own quality criteria, and develop frameworks to help them understand how.
  4. Celebrate learning by celebrating performance.
  5. Don’t require people to come to a course.
  6. Stop using the words and phrases best practice, and learner engagement.
  7. Have a group of successful professionals in your workplace document the 10 most important things they know, and the 10 most important skills. Then compare and contrast them with your workplace standards.
  8. Let people use smartphones at any place in work.
  9. Mobilise learning by mobilising people in communities they care about.
  10. Make any space in the workplace into a learning space.
  11. Make learning resources entoirely visible – literally open all your content to everybody.
  12. Ditch L&D function “filters”; remove the hurdles like pre-qualification.
  13. Be honest when things suck, are boring, or are wastes of time. Stop rationalizing, making excuses, or using confirmation bias.
  14. Transform your learning function to a 21st century cultural centre with cutting edge experts, thinking, and support.
  15. Stop encouraging people to go on overpriced courses that fail to improve their performance, and that perpetuate a system that stifles innovation and equity.
  16. Make your learning function about creativity.
  17. Make learning at work about self-discovery, accountability, and how to find and evaluate information people care about.
  18. Make your formal support about participation in networks.
  19. Support your learning function as a business.
  20. Treat the people who learn best like rock stars: Give them reality shows, endorsement deals, and huge contracts.
  21. If people underperform, hold them accountable. Find a way to make support meaningful, social, and knowledge-based.
  22. Make people accountable to one another, not the L&D function.
  23. If we don’t celebrate performance in the the way we do level 1 evaluation sheets, let’s stop being surprised when businesses consider us to be superficial.
  24. Review your formal professional systems. Every L&D member is an expert in something. There’s your Personal Development team.
  25. L&D – Stop patronizing learning tech like brand fanatics.
  26. Don’t set benchmark tests that reward 15% error rates with a pass.
  27. Make learning budgets entirely transparent to everyone in your organisation.
  28. Throw out test scores forever. Test in the workplace with performance as your yardstick.
  29. Stop asking so much of trainers and instructional designers.
  30. Help your business understand what training, learning and development are for.
  31. Make sure anyone in a L&D function understands what it means manage commercially. 
  32. Promote learning through networks, not curriculum.
  33. Make performance support and the ability to ask the right question at the right time the criteria by which we measure a L&D function.
  34. Stop testing to count learning, and measure performance.
  35. Rebrand learning the same way Apple has done with computers, Starbucks has coffee, and Nike has jogging.
  36. Stop criticising managers for their lack of support for your formal learning interventions.
  37. Push the language of learning – learners, pedagogy, etc – out of learning spaces completely.
  38. Design complex mentorship and apprenticeship support.
  39. Use support based around thinking habits, and the ability to know what’s worth understanding rather than “content.”
  40. Create support based on the ability to self-direct and design their own learning pathways.
  41. Require Subject Matter Experts to design and deliver learning support.
  42. Stop training–this is a push-pull action; instead, promote learning.
  43. Use YouTube channels instead of handouts.
  44. Eliminate educational language in your learning function – you are not a school (unless you’re a school).
  45. Use social media and ESN instead of email.
  46. Make learning resources more like app stores with support that excites people –that they want to use.
  47. Create support that functions like a playlist, and that browses like Google search results; require people to document their own understanding.
  48. Allow people to decide what they do and don’t want to learn; insist only that the learn something to support their performance.
  49. Treat the goal of learning as performance.
  50. Design your learning function as a think tank to understand and address your business problems.
So what now.  Well, it’s likely that there are certain points on there that you agree with, you disagree with, don’t understand, wish to develop.

Role of L&D in the 21C Workplace

It is increasingly becoming evident that L&D department in organizations can no longer function the way they used to, at least not if they want to be relevant and be a business partner to the organization. The impact of technology, globalization, ubiquitous connectivity, remote work and distributed work teams, and economy of individuals to name a few drivers have changed the face of workplace learning and performance dramatically.
Workplace learning in many places is still struggling to come out of the Industrial Era where workers were trained on best practices, put to work, and their efficiency measured by supervisors. The more of the same task they performed, the more efficient they became. And time to production improved. Economy of scale was achieved. Gone are those days and those requirements. Repeatable tasks are performed more rapidly, with greater accuracy and more cost effectively by machines. Somewhat complicated tasks are being outsourced but even the face of outsourcing is undergoing rapid change.

These are some of the critical and macro-level shifts in the role of L&D that are becoming apparent. There are more micro-level ones like:
  1. The ability to put together a course rapidly from existing content on the web, OERs, and internal content
  2. Being up-to-date with different technologies that can impact learning
  3. The capability to gauge what kind of support is required for optimal and timely output – a course, a Job Aid, initiating and facilitating a forum discussion, curating external content and sharing internally, and so on.
The role of L&D will continue to evolve and expand. It is going to become strategic and critical but the onus lies on us to keep honing our skills and shaping our capabilities to meet the constantly changing needs of the workplace.
Ability to learn rapidly is perhaps the mega-skill that makes the rest possible.Today’s workers can no longer rest on their laurels and past success doesn't necessarily imply future success as well. This is the world of work that L&D must support today. And this means re-skilling for L&D as well.
From course designers to learning facilitators – Given that till date, L&D has been tasked with designing courses based on TNA, task analysis and skill gaps, this is perhaps one of the fundamental and most difficult shifts. While courses will still have their place, the approach to course design itself will need to become more dynamic, rapid and inclusive of informal and social components.
Proficiency in social media usage – While we would all like to boast about being social media gurus, using it effectively for learning and enabling others to do the same calls for a different understanding of social media. It goes beyond a Facebook status update.
Facilitating self-driven learning – As course designers and course disseminators, L&D role has been more of that of the sage on the stage. However, with the need for learning new skills becoming more dynamic and skill requirement more complex, workers must know how to “pull” what they need to drive performance. This requires them to reach out to the right people, access the right content and use their own plan to acquire the information or skill required. 

How Learning & Development Must Change: Three Challenges

The three points of change have always been part of the L&D function, but today’s greater speed of technological change, combined with the increased importance of learning to the modern organization, means these three facets of the modern L&D department are crucial to its success.”

The three challenges we face today
The result is that L&D must change the way it operates in today’s world, in three ways. In particular:
  1. We must develop content collaboratively. The L&D department can no longer work at a remove from the rest of the organization. While trainers in the past could develop deep expertise in a given subject matter, today’s urgent need for information makes that impossible. More than ever, L&D needs to establish strong ways to develop learning content in collaboration with workplace subject matter experts (SMEs).
  2. We must support current practice. A great deal of learning takes place in the workplace without L&D’s intervention. However, the department has a role to play in supporting this learning, whether managers deliberately organize it, or whether colleagues informally arrange it among themselves.
  3. We must maintain and build our department. It is no longer possible to support the wider demands of workplace L&D with a generalist skill set. Instead, it is essential for L&D staff to have both a good general grounding in L&D and specialist skills in particular areas.
This table shows some of the ways that the new approach to L&D differs from the old:
Table 1.
Old L&D
New L&D
Involved with the organization
Classroom and/or face-to-face delivery mechanism
Multiple media, including the classroom where appropriate; both synchronous and asynchronous; online and offline
Content experts
Experts in how people learn and in working with SMEs to get the best from them
“Push” delivery style
Multiple styles: “Push” delivery where appropriate (e.g., for compliance training), plus “pull” for performance support information
Minimal technical expertise
Technical expertise in e-Learning
Course writing expertise
Expertise in writing for courses, blogs, and wikis
Design and set up courses requested by management
Curriculum design expertise as well as performance consultancy expertise to determine whether courses are actually required

These are just some of the practical ways L&D must change to meet the challenge of today. The three points of change have always been part of the L&D function, but today’s greater speed of technological change, combined with the increased importance of learning to the modern organization, means these three facets of the modern L&D department are crucial to its success.
In this respect, the L&D department is a microcosm of the modern working environment in which individuals are becoming increasingly focused specialists in their field. In this L&D microcosm, specialists in certain areas of learning practice staff the department. They add value to the enterprise in collaboration with fellow workers and use technology to ensure that they focus on high-value work as often as possible.
The world of work is changing and the L&D department must change with it. L&D can not only survive, it can flourish if it bears in mind the benefits of working with SMEs and employee managers and if it places a deliberate focus on L&D team members by both developing them in a structured way and by supporting them with the right systems.

How Deloitte Made Learning a Game

“Training is a funny thing,” James Sanders, Manager of Innovation at Deloitte Consulting, told me recently. “No matter how easy you make it to access, or how brilliant the learning programs are, training is simply not the first thing people think of doing when they have some free time. Let’s face it, for most people, on a typical Sunday morning, if given the choice between ‘Am I gonna watch ESPN, or am I gonna do some training?’ training will not win out.”
And yet, by using gamification principles, Deloitte has seen use of its Deloitte Leadership Academy(DLA) training program increase. Participants, who are spending increased amounts of time on the site and completing programs in increasing numbers, show almost addictive behavior. Since the integration of gamification in to Deloitte Leadership Academy, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of users returning to the site each week.
Gamification takes the essence of games — attributes such as fun, play, transparency, design and competition — and applies these to a range of real-world processes inside an organization, including learning & development. The technology research firm Gartner, Inc. predicts gamification will be used in 25 percent of redesigned business processes by 2015, this will grow to more than a $2.8 billion business by 2016, and 70 percent of Global 2000 businesses will be managing at least one “gamified” application or system by 2014.
Deloitte is well on its way to staying ahead of the trend. DLA is an online program for training its own employees as well as its clients. DLA found that by embedding missions, badges, and leaderboards into a user-friendly platform alongside video lectures, in-depth courses, tests and quizzes, users have become engaged and more likely to complete the online training programs. The Academy has had over 20,000 executive users since its inception in 2008.
DLA uses content from such top tier business schools as Harvard Business Publishing, IMD, Melbourne Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. The content on the site falls into three categories: videos, “in-depth content,” and self-assessments (tests and quizzes). Some are interactive forms and others are PDFs, but all offer a section for learners to interact with each other or to leave questions or comments. To help solidify the community, each learner’s home screen receives news feed updates from the users they follow. They can then interact with each other’s status updates, in a format similar to that on Facebook.
Before learners even begin the online learning programs they must complete their first mission, dubbed the on-boarding mission. They do this by watching a 3-minute video, which explains how to use the website, and in the process of watching the video, they are instructed how to personalize the site to their individual learning priorities. Upon completion, learners receive a badge for their on-boarding mission and then have the option to connect to their personal networks on Linkedin and Twitter so they can easily upload a profile and photo. This level of customization is important, because it breeds a higher level of engagement.
As learners complete each online learning program, they receive a badge to mark their achievement. Most of those badges are won upon completion of straightforward competencies, but some are ‘secret’ badges, dubbed “Snowflake” badges. These are created to surprise and delight learners and are unlocked only by achieving certain goals. For example, if all members of one department watch the same video during the same week, they all receive a snowflake badge. “This is an unpredictable reward, which is a surprise and a delight for our learners,” says Sanders. The average user completes enough online learning programs to earn three badges.
DLA’s design of its leaderboard is also instructive. Instead of displaying one standard list of the top ten scorers overall, each general “level” of user has its own top-ten leaderboard, so that each user’s competition for top-ten is limited to other users on that same level. That board resets every seven days. “Traditional leaderboards are, in fact, counter-productive,” Sanders says. “The same consistent top users, with astronomic scores, turn off everyone who knows they have no chance of beating them.” Instead, with Deloitte’s model, “Every week you have a new chance to be the best learner on the site,” he says. This seven-day reset also means that executives won’t be discouraged from using the site just because they missed a few weeks — and fell behind in scores — while on vacation or traveling for work.”

Getting Started: Using Gamification For Learning & Development

Executives interested in implementing this popular new tool should think of gamification as a business improvement initiative, and start by asking business-related questions such as:
What are your business goals? Define the business problem that gamification is trying to address as clearly as possible. Determine if gamification is something that can contribute to solving this problem or if it will supplement existing plans. Benchmark what your peers in similar organizations are doing with gamification and understand what works and what does not work.
For example, do you want to add gamification for learning as a way to have more learners complete their certifications or compliance programs? Or are you appealing to a growing segment of Millennials who express a desire for learning to be fun, engaging and highly collaborative?
Who is your audience? Will this be directed to internal employees or external stakeholders such as dealers or distributors? Do you want to design prescriptive missions or create more open experiences? View the game from the learner’s point of view. No one wants to perpetually be at the bottom of a leaderboard. Instead demonstrate to users how they can progress toward higher levels of mastery.
The goal is not to “game” or manipulate target audiences, but rather to mesh behavioral science with social technologies to increase collaboration and engagement levels among your users.
How will you track success? Have a plan in place for measuring the effectiveness of your gamification efforts. It’s not enough to capture data; you need to analyze it as well. Some measures to think about include: level of engagement among users, number of power users on the site, learning completion rates among users, satisfaction rates among users and the relationship between engagement and achievement levels on the site and individual promotions, and other external career progressions among your users.