What and how people learn is changing dramatically. Digital technology has opened the door to new learning formats and created a demand for new, more fluid types of training and development efforts. Globalization, automation, and networking are making continuous acquisition of new knowledge and the upgrading of skills part of life and work.
In “The Lifetime Learner”, a publication of Deloitte University Press, the authors argue that the demand for new forms of education and training are quite different from what is being delivered by traditional post-secondary institutions and corporate training departments. They write:
Individuals are…challenged by an accelerating cycle of skill obsolescence in a period of unprecedented transition from skill set to skill set. The rapidly changing business landscape demands constant learning of new skills and domains, retraining, and applying existing capabilities in new contexts. It also demands a greater fluency in digital tools and comfort in virtual environments. It rewards those with greater capacity to seek and access resources and to build social capital through personal networks and participation in communities.
In this “rapidly changing business landscape”, we need individuals and organizations that know how to learn. Those institutions that can learn quickly and constantly will be competitive and will survive. It’s no longer about having the most creative training events; it’s about developing a culture that values and supports continuous learning. This must be evident in the actions of leaders, in the manager-learner relationship, in the allocation of resources, in the recognition and reward system, in the way people communicate with each other, and in how people are held accountable.
We need agility in learners and in learning interventions in organizations. Employees need to take responsibility for their own learning. They need to learn fast and learn just-in-time, whether how to fix a machine or how to fix an organization. And organizations need to create opportunities for individuals, teams, and the enterprise to learn how to learn fast and effectively.