April 23, 2018

The 7 building blocks of an organisational learning ecosystem

As business leaders, supporting the growth of your people is crucial to your business growth. In a previous article, I noted how personalised learning can not only develop and benefit your people but also your organisation as a whole.

In order to get the best out of personalised learning, business leaders must build a learning ecosystem in their organisation. How do you go about doing this?

First begin with empathy. Empathy is crucial in order to design meaningful experiences that connect with an individual’s motivation and needs. One effective way to learn and practise empathy is to use design thinking — a process and toolkit for human-centred innovation.

In the same manner, truly understanding the motivation, needs and workflow of the people of your organisation will help enable you to truly provide them with a strong learning ecosystem. You can begin to practise empathy by exploring the work environment of your people and also asking open-ended questions to understand how they feel, think and act.

Second, reframe the problems before jumping into a solution. This allows you to able to step back and look at each problem in terms of the bigger picture.

In order to understand the problems your people are facing, you need empathy. However, it is easy to jump to conclusions — as soon as you think you understand the problem, you’ll be tempted to point out a solution. But rather than immediately thinking up solutions, begin by brainstorming different ways to address certain problems.

Third, do some “performance hacking”. Hacking, in this instance, essentially means to alter or shift, and in this case we mean shifting the mindset of your people. Everything begins with the right mindset.

Trying to directly change behaviour is nearly impossible and not feasible in the long run. So rather than going straight to sending your people for formal training, understand them first and consider all types of methods to motivate them to learn.

Fourth, design the ecosystem by optimising the workflow. Rather than pushing content and controlling all aspects of training delivered to your people, give them the ability to collaborate and connect with others in the organisation so that they can network. Using technology could be one way to approach this.

Fifth, prototype and test the learning ecosystem. The goal here is to fail fast so we can learn fast, and this includes testing any stubborn assumptions we may have. This is the fastest way of understanding the whole ecosystem and fixing any problems it may have.

Sixth, do some marketing for the learning ecosystem within the organisation. Let’s face it — not everyone will immediately be on board with new elements or any changes to the usual flow of the organisation. The goal of marketing to your own people is in many ways similar to how you market to your customers. In a sense, your own workforce has become your customer, someone you need to persuade and motivate.

Last, measure the outcome. At this point, ask questions: Are your people satisfied with the learning sessions you proposed? Are they utilising the learning content and applying it to real work situations?

Measuring certain aspects can lead to better understanding of whether or not the learning ecosystem you have built is going in the right direction or not. Feedback and improvement help in many ways in developing a better learning ecosystem for your organisation.

It takes time to build a good learning ecosystem but it is well worth the effort. In fact, it is essential because in our fast-changing world today, the traditional ways of learning do not always work anymore.

These days, learning no longer takes place only in formal courses and programmes. Technology has opened up opportunities for everyone to expand their knowledge. Learning is accessible anywhere with the internet, and available conveniently at any time of our choosing. Besides technology, having social connections can also build on learning as you are able to learn from others.

In our increasingly digital and advancing world today, business leaders of must also be able to keep up and equip their people with the right learning tools. Predicting the future is getting harder and harder, but preparing your people is one of the best future-proofing approaches. Giving them the space for learning will not only build their skills for the job, it will eventually equip your organisation to keep up with the fast-paced world.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa

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