Agile learning

Why individualized advanced training is the key for the organization of tomorrow.

How to promote an agile mindset? Mainly through the independent development of new skills. That's not what I'm saying. It’s the answer provided by the recently released Future Organization Report. The report found that the continuous development of personal skills is a major factor for 86 percent of those surveyed. But: Only about half of them actually participated in advanced training on agility. Change is needed!

Still not enough self-initiative – the biggest obstacle

The study by the Institute of Information Management at Universität St. Gallen sounds the alarm: Only a third of corporate employees become active on their own initiative. And even worse: only a quarter of those surveyed say that they received guidance on the issue of agility from their superiors. 

That has also been my impression: Especially in larger companies, employees often wait to receive (further) training offers. And many expect to encounter conventional formats such as face-to-face instruction. Attitudes must change in this respect. Further development requires self-initiative. Where possible, all employees should take the initiative. A wait-and-see or passive attitude is not a good fit with the organization of tomorrow.

Further development during corona – how did we do it?

Campana & Schott was among the many companies that were unable to organize most of the planned professional development and training groups as planned. So we asked ourselves: How can we support staff in these times, and help them to work effectively even without a physical presence? We concluded that comprehensive and unlimited access to a learning environment is a central building block for us. Consequently, we invested in providing full access to LinkedIn Learning. Employees can define their own contents: Do I want to learn more about SCRUM Basics, conflict management or freshen up my PowerPoint skills? All employees can access all LinkedIn courses and tutorials. We also promoted individual curiosity. The result? A lot of engagement and responsibility-taking. Most of my colleagues actively took advantage of advanced training options, obtained certificates and were also willing to look into entirely different thematic areas. What is the success factor? The ability to schedule your own time and self-initiative! Everyone selects and attends the courses that best fit into their personal daily routines.

The way forward?

Consolidating these experiences and the results from the Future Organization Report, my recommendations are as follows:

What can companies and managers do?
  1. Develop training products from purely instructional events into a motivating learning environment.
  2. Do not over-emphasize formal qualifications and increase investments in an infrastructure that allows employees to obtain advanced training on their own.
  3. Managers must motivate employees and discuss individual areas of potential with them. On this aspect: Publicize available offerings, share own experiences, draw attention to new options.
  4. Advanced training is a key task of management – and while the HR department supports this process, it is not responsible for it.
What should employees do?
  1. Employees must move away from the classic “Five days of training a year, preferably all at once” approach towards an approach that emphasizes continuous learning “in small bites”. That too is part of agile learning.
  2. Take the time to browse and quickly test new offerings. 
  3. Address advanced training when the new knowledge can be applied quickly. Why not discuss meaningful or required on-line tutorials, or exchange positive experiences during the kick-off for a new project? Try out the contents from the SCRUM course directly in the new project.
  4. View learning as a joy and privilege ... not as a cumbersome obligation.