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Here’s How to Reinvent Learning Management

By: | March 21, 2019 • 3 min read
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology have on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. Averbook will be speaking at the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, Oct. 1 through 4. He can be emailed at [email protected]

A company’s biggest competitive advantage is its people. The greatest value of people as employees is their command of highly developed skills of the future.

Depending on which doomsday article or study you read, the bots are coming and AI will replace 40 percent of our jobs in the next 15 years. Thank God! They should! Let the bots come. Let automation take over anything that can be automated. Let smart administration and process automation improve efficiency and the bottom line. Allow human decision-making to become informed and empowered, backed by reams and reams of collected data points, putting data to work alongside humans. Tee up an intelligent human to step in at the necessary point of entry to validate an outcome or decision.

So, let the bots come, thereby freeing humans to do the kind of work they are meant and best suited to perform.

That creates tremendous urgency around reskilling and upskilling the workforce for a different kind of work. Everyone could agree learning not only provides a competitive edge in an increasingly automated and outsourced economy, it’s critically necessary. Innosight’s Corporate Longevity forecast indicates half of S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next 10 years. If upskilling and retraining the workforce isn’t part of a company’s workforce-development strategy, that organization risks being part of that churn.

Digitization of Learning

The conundrum: We’re not ready. We haven’t made the digitization of learning a top organizational priority, but we should.

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People are digital natives, or becoming so, yet the workforce technology we provide for learning and productivity is outdated. While there’s urgency around learning and upskilling, the learning tools we make available have not been digitized. We’ve not modernized learning-management technology and processes to complement the way consumers consume and learners learn.

In Leapgen’s Always On kickoff webinar predicting 10 important themes impacting HR organizations this year, I suggested learning and knowledge management would be reinvented because it needs to reinvent itself, and quickly. Blow it up.

Learning management should upskill and empower your workforce through learning practices and tools that focus on skills, knowledge and abilities. It needs to be:

  • Real time: You shouldn’t need to wait for a class to be available or in person. Learning and knowledge should be online, available on video and provided as rich content.
  • Personalized: Delivery of relevant learning content relies on understanding what job or role you’re in. It should also consider where you might want to go in the future in terms of career aspirations and skills you’re interested in building. And not only personalized, but personal in that you are able to share with others—the organization itself teaching the rest of the organization.
  • Short, bite-sized: Picture yourself watching a cooking show or searching YouTube to figure out how your drone camera works. I don’t want to read a manual or download curriculum or even watch the entire video. I just need the answer. Provide highly consumable learning that’s quick and easy to absorb and use.
  • Skills-based rather than compliance-based: Skills are the modern currency of the talent market. Hire for skills, then continue to build and develop them based on what your organization needs to deliver (not based on a compliance checklist).
  • Data-driven: You don’t get to personalization unless you have the right data supporting it. Data are necessary to build a personalized and relevant learning experience. Knowing what skills are required for a job, what skills a person has or needs—that requires data, which can be used to personalize and drive the experience itself.
  • And it needs to meet them where they are: Consumable content that’s easier to access and learn comes in lots of formats through lots of channels, including mobile or online videos or webinars.
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Organizing Data as Knowledge, Delivering It as Learning

Traditional LMS-solution providers are transforming by deciding to deliver real-time learning in short, on-demand, push-versus-pull methods. There’s a world of content out there, whether it’s content you’ve built in your organization, content available on the internet, or peer-to-peer learning and knowledge. Discovery (not development) of content is the greatest challenge organizations have, not because it’s not available but because it’s everywhere. Making it easier for individuals to discover and leverage content at an individual level is a massive opportunity.

When you search on the company intranet or on Google, you don’t just want to find a document; you want to find an answer. The vast majority of HR’s data is knowledge, and it’s in the form of unstructured data, sometimes tied to other data in the organization. There’s so much data scattered all over organizations today. In order for bots to make the information usable, companies need to focus on their foundation and on the organization of data to provide knowledge and learning (not developing courses). In order for augmented intelligence, automation and bots to actually work in the future, we have to think differently. This space will blow up because of the opportunity technology provides to organize knowledge and offer an improved learning experience.

That’s why learning management is not only reinventing itself, it’s upheaving itself at its very foundation. I imagine it will be a hot topic we’ll all be following closely at the HR Technology Conference in October and elsewhere. It’s one of the most exciting opportunities we have in shaping the future of work.

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