Each year, we compile a list of the most requested topics and themes based on conversations with our clients throughout the year. In 2019, one common theme among all the trends is about up-skilling teams to take advantage of rapid technological changes that are impacting business and society.
These are the most notable trends so far:
- An Emphasis on Sustained Learning
- Creating a Culture of Innovation
- Business Agility
- Leveraging the Big Data Value Chain
- Experiential Learning & Gamification
An Emphasis on Sustained Learning
Learning requires follow-up in order to retain and apply skills, knowledge, and behavior.
Humans do not retain theories, facts, and figures very well, especially with only one exposure to them. Instead, we learn through repetition, social reinforcement, and application.
Research shows that a period of extended review and follow-up, with supplemental learning content, can improve knowledge retention and transfer of skills into the workplace.
Increasingly L&D teams are asking a central question: How do we turn this program into a broader learning journey? Approaches include manager involvement, online tools, follow-up sessions, action learning and coaching.
Learning journeys work best when they are multi-modular – with each module containing a workshop or webinar, embedded learning, coaching sessions, short refreshers (2-3 hour group sessions to follow-up on workshop topics and application to the workplace), and a tie-in to an action learning project that is directly related to the business.
Throughout the program, participants may also access online content libraries, review goals and progress with their supervisors and business mentors, and participate in various other activities delivered either by internal subject matter experts or external consultants. An online learning portal or Sharepoint site may act as a centralised “go-to” site to refer to pre- post- work assignments, next steps in the journey, and to retrieve program logistics.
The journey may then conclude with a wrap up session in which each group presents their action learning project results.
Creating a Culture of Innovation
Innovation is not about chasing the latest fad. It is rooted in company culture. Driving innovation means much more than reading the latest business bestseller or trying out a new app. It’s about establishing a company culture supported by people who have the skills and mindset to take ownership.
Effective recruiting and leadership from the top lay the foundation, but training is how to grow an innovation culture. Common training objectives include building digital awareness among teams and leaders, driving digital transformation, and building skills, processes, and tools that support ongoing innovation. Companies are helping technical managers develop the human side of innovation, while also building up the analytical skills of managers who oversee the other parts of the business, such as marketing and human resources.
What used to be the exclusive domain of techies, agile has been making its way into other parts of the business.
Bringing agile out of software development and into the executive suite is not a new idea. However, as teams feel pressure to constantly adapt, the roll-out of agile (and its related disciplines of customer focus, rapid iteration, collaboration, and feedback) has taken on a greater sense of urgency this past year.
At Innova, we have seen more management teams asking how to implement agile in every aspect of their business. Agile is seen as a way to get ideas to market faster and to collaborate on customer projects with high degrees of uncertainty. Lower risk, greater speed, what’s not to like?
As a training topic, agile is moving from IT settings into broader company culture in leadership, team management, cross-functional collaboration, and managing day-to-day workflow.
Leveraging the Big Data Value Chain
Business leaders are investing in new ways to use data to influence others and make decisions.
Many leaders struggle to get a grip on the massive amount of data they encounter. One key issue is the belief that data is primarily a technical problem to be addressed by data scientists and IT teams. In reality, the core challenge is one of leadership. Leaders and managers at all levels need to be able to comprehend the opportunities and challenges of data and how they can use it to inform decisions and create value.
Our clients are increasingly aware of this fact and are investing time and resources into understanding how “big data” can give them a competitive edge.
This goes beyond basic analytical skills and IT. Managers need to know how to work with their analytical teams to ask the right questions from the start, reduce bias as they work through the process, come to an informed decision, and then present the data to tell a compelling story.
Experiential Learning & Gamification
When it comes to changing mindset and behavior, adults learn best through direct application. More companies are approaching each program with the goal of creating experiences that are memorable, insightful, and impactful.
Some people remain skeptical of the “gamification” trend. However, when combined with the right training topic and audience, a well-designed game can be effective. For more strategic content, such as business management and leaders, a robust business simulation would be a good choice.
Experiential learning can include a facilitated debrief which ties the experiences back to the broader learning journey and future applications in the workplace.