Implementation of Agile in L&D function
As we are living in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous), we are witnessing that businesses are being disrupted every day. The pace at which workplace is changing is tremendous. To keep the business competitive in the market, we need to explore new technologies, new platforms and innovative ways of doing things.
As per the World Economic Forum whitepaper published last year, “Accelerating Workforce Reskilling for the Fourth Industrial Revolution projected that around 35% of the skills demanded jobs across industries will have changed by 2020.”
Thus, the workforce also needs to up-skill themselves to keep up with this change. Employees should develop the culture of keeping themselves updated about these changes and quick in implementation. All this change requires agility, and to be able to support learning agility, companies need to start creating an agile learning culture.
I am working with Zensar Technologies with the Learning and Development function managing Technical Training. In this blog, I will highlight how we are building a culture of learning agility and adopting agile methodology in our activities.
Building A Culture Of Learning Agility
According to Patty Woolcock, the executive director of CSHRP, the California Strategic HR Partnership, “The future of learning is three ‘justs’: just enough, just-in-time, and just-for-me.” It means that training is going to have to be just as agile as the workforce — where speed, flexibility, and innovation are key. It means that more learning will happen in teams and on platforms where training can be delivered any time, any place, at the user’s convenience.
In our organization, we have established a culture of learning and the technical training team provides all the support required for embracing any change. Creating an agile learning culture may not be a difficult task if you already do a few of the things listed below. However, if you have no learning culture, then it might be a little more difficult.
- Encouraging Peer Learning
At Zensar, we encourage learning from peer experts. We identify associates with a specialized skill and then encourage them to conduct training to others. We schedule peer learning sessions not only at the same location but also through virtual sessions with the team overseas through Skype or WebEx.
By implementing these practices, it makes learning more flexible and encourages you to leverage internal talents rather than relying on the external trainer. It also encourages a culture of learning as the company shows that it values people who have skills and want to teach others. In addition, the internal trainers get incentives that motivate them to continually upgrading themselves with new-age skills.
2. Continuous Learning Culture
Most associates, especially the younger generation support the agile, in-the-moment learning styles. They feel that it is necessary to be involved in lifelong, continuous learning.
We have built a culture of continuous learning by developing a learning path for the associates and using online learning platforms like Skillsoft, Udemy, Coursera, etc.
3. Personalizing the Learning Environment
It has been observed that adult learners generally lose interest when they are forced to learn something they already know or something that is not of their interest. Thus, the learning has to be personalized to the learner’s preferences.
We have developed our own app called ZenLearn that integrates with the Learning Management System. The associates can create their own learning plan and assign online courses. The app provides analytics for learning progress and also gamify the learning experience.
4. Make Learning Available Anytime and Everywhere
The ZenLearn app has helped the associates to go mobile and get just-in-time learning experience. Associates can use their mobile devices to access learning content and monitor their learning progress from anywhere, at any time. They find it easy to access learning content especially microlearning bytes on the mobile device. They can also create conversation threads on learning areas of their choice.
Implement Agile Methodology to manage training and content creation
In our technical training organisation, we constantly receive requests for JIT (Just-in-Time) training programs and content creation from various business functions. Sometimes it becomes challenging to manage multiple training programs running in parallel.
We have adopted the Kanban method to streamline our delivery of training programs and content creation.
Kanban is widely used in manufacturing environments around the world, particularly the automotive industry. It was introduced in the year 1940 by Taiichi Ohno, an engineer with the Toyota Motor Company, and soon revolutionized the problems of effective task scheduling and incremental boosts to efficiency. The original system involved production employees and material suppliers using “Kanban”, or cards, to signal when they were ready to take on more work. By the 1980s, Kanban was frequently put into use to manage software development projects.
Kanban is a visual methodology that empowers you and your team with a flexible, intuitive resource to coordinate your efforts. The Kanban board helps the team members to concentrate on their tasks while providing visibility into the overall workflow.
The Kanban board we use has three columns:
· To Do — a prioritized list of tasks that are required to deliver training or creation of content.
· In Progress — We generally limit the ‘In Progress’ capacity to 3 items per team.
· Completed — List of tasks that have been finished.
A task on a Kanban board can only be moved from the ‘To-Do list’ to ‘In Progress’ when one of the three tasks in progress is finished and moved to ‘Completed’.
In my technical training organisation, there are several tasks where we have external dependencies like vendor selection, raising PR, PR approval cycle, the release of PO, etc. When we put these entire tasks on a visual board and we easily identify which of the task is not moving and has a bottleneck. Then we take immediate measures to clear the impediments.
One of my team engaged in developing custom online learning content uses a similar approach. The high-level tasks involved in developing rapid micro learning nuggets include content analysis, storyboarding, asset creation, authoring, and publishing. All these tasks are further broken into smaller tasks and put up on the Kanban To-Do list. This helps the team members quickly check on the status or requirements of only those activities that are assigned to them. This makes it much faster and easier to stay informed and focused on day-to-day requirements, while also seeing the big picture.
Thus, the Kanban method is a versatile tool for tracking your daily activities and it allows you to identify areas for improvement and track changes for continuous benefits to your bottom line.