Survivability demands agility

Andy Lancaster explores how businesses can avoid going the way of the dodo!

Survival in nature is a serious matter!

The WWF estimate at least 10,000 species become extinct each year. In many cases the tragedy of a creature ceasing to exist is down to the speed with which the natural habitat is changing. Often this is due to external factors such as global warming which disrupt the normal living conditions.

It’s sobering that extinction applies equally to organisations as well as organisms.

Despite insolvency trends being lower than after the 2008 stock market crash, significant numbers of business are still failing; around forty companies became bankrupt every day in 2015. High profile collapses of companies that had established household brand recognition demonstrate that no organisation can consider itself exempt. An inability to adapt to new methods, customer demands or technologies will inevitably result in further tragic business extinctions.

In the midst of the challenge to adapt to a fast-changing operating environment workforce learning and development is key. Workers must learn new ways of working, embrace new service demands and technologies, and thrive in a multi-generational settings with flexible work patterns often across dispersed locations.

However, the learning that will support organisational change is not a traditional face-to-face offering with staff selecting from a menu of topics. Or the provision of hundreds of generic e-courses largely unused with little relevance to the business context.

Organisations that will thrive must shift to an agile learning approach delivered at the heart of the business.

So, what makes learning agile?

Here are ten traits. Agile learning:

  • Addresses business needs with urgency;
  • Includes the learner at the heart of the learning design process;
  • Is developed and deployed rapidly using the most appropriate media;
  • Includes the best of wider existing resources as part of the responsive solution;
  • Agile learning doesn’t seek to be perfect when first deployed but is iteratively improved;
  • Invites and uses learner-generated content;
  • Can be accessed anytime, anywhere and that demands digital delivery;
  • Is not governed by trainer or subject expert availability;
  • Delivery is not restricted by ‘firewalled’ company systems;
  • Values peer discussion and support as part of the learning process.

Naturalist Charles Darwin is attributed as saying: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most responsive to change.”

How true this may be of organisations who embrace agile learning methods to drive organisational improvement and performance and a stark warning to those who rest on their laurels and rely on traditional learning methods!