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No digital future without investments in (advanced) training

08.02.2019

Why investing in employees pays off.

Digitization is sweeping over us like a wave, and it is changing the way we live: First, we radically changed the way we consume media, and then we started to digitize more and more aspects of our daily lives. Now, digitization is changing products, companies, industries, and it is also generating new business models. In my opinion, there is only one key success factor for keeping up with this wave: (Further) training.

 

Keeping up with the changes

The digitization of the work environment leads to new challenges, methods and codes of conduct. And it does not involve merely memorizing new facts. The new work environments require fresh ways of thinking, curiosity about technology and a willingness to change one's attitude and perspective into a new direction. This is a challenge particularly for experienced professionals. Those who are successful and established in their profession often find it hard to move out of their comfort zone. But how can executives and technical experts benefit from new ideas while also building up new knowledge?

 

Thinking outside of the box

New forms of collaboration and entirely new processes of a digitally changed work environment require a new way of thinking. If you want to change the way you think, you have to leave the boundaries of your company behind and start talking with other people. One the one hand, many attractive employers compete to recruit well-educated digital natives for their companies. On the other hand, the companies must also invest in the existing workforce. Many companies have recognized: Their employees also want to play an active role in shaping this transformation, and they want to get ready for the needs of tomorrow. These employees are ideally suited to inspire and promote other colleagues.

However, most companies still believe that professional development consists of conventional training and teacher-centered teaching. But let’s be honest: With these methods, it only takes a few minutes before employees are already thinking about the next meeting or are checking their Smartphone. These practices are completely inappropriate and useless. New formats are needed. There has already been some experience with entirely new further training and courses that are directed at experienced or aspiring executives, and that can be completed concurrent with their job duties.

One example: “Master of Digital Transformation Management”

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One example is the Master of Digital Transformation Management at the Goethe Business School. This highly-interdisciplinary course of studies is offered at the University of Frankfurt. It is attended by employees from different companies/positions, and from different age groups and countries. One participant told me privately: “The most important aspect for me is the diversity, combined with practical contents. This delivers valuable insights for my own work environment.”

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This course of studies focuses on Business Transformation - from strategy to implementation. In particular, students learn how digital strategies are implemented in a manner that is both results- and target-oriented. Of course, these topics is tailor-made for someone like me: Since the company was founded, Campana & Schott has worked on implementing strategy projects - projects that frequently came about because of ground-breaking technologies. It is also the reason why the conceptualization and subsequent agile-programmatic implementation of the digital transformation is a subject close to my heart. This is also noticed by the students: “Particularly the group tasks featuring an agile approach, under real conditions and under time pressure, are completely different than the face-to-face classes from university and the professional development courses,” says another participant.

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Conclusion

Just as digitization is turning companies and industries inside out, it will also change our methods of learning. In a few years, students in different locations will work together to solve their group tasks using mixed reality glasses.

And: Employees must leave behind the boundaries of their own company to pick up new ideas. The interdisciplinary exchange with other employees helps to ensure that new ways of thinking are established more quickly and more effectively. Companies must recognize this and support their employees. The benefit? The new skills acquired by the employees become the new skills of the company.

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