The future of work means anything is possible

But first, learning needs to be undone, reimagined, and recast into the flow of work

Posted by Amy A. Titus, Josh Haims, Terry Patterson, and Joanne Kim on May 2, 2018.

As the future of work unfolds, adaptable learning organizations will likely stay ahead of their competition, attract the best and the brightest prospects, and manage market movements with their customer base with more agility. Learning leaders are well positioned to lead the charge to develop an adept workforce that can not only respond to rapid shifts in markets, but also thrive in them as well.

At Deloitte’s 7th annual Chief Learning Officer Forum, a select group of senior learning and business leaders convened to focus on the theme Learning Undone—rethinking learning to better align with what the business and workforce need to navigate the future of work. A wide range of leaders representing various disciplines of business, technology, science, government, consulting, and learning zeroed in on the learning function’s mandate to equip the organization and its people to operate digitally and effectively however and whenever the future of work unfolds.

The following key takeaways, gleaned from our sessions, provide insights on what business leaders should consider to prepare for a future of work where anything is possible.

Future forward
In today’s world we are not so much interconnected as interdependent. Shifts in worker types, proximity to offices, and cognitive technologies are all impacting the future talent landscape. There’s an increasing need for digital fluency in people at all levels—from frontline workers to executives—and for building a digital organization with consumer-grade employee experiences to help attract and retain talent and better shape employees’ careers.

The implication for learning: The workforce is evolving rapidly, and learning’s ability to keep up is at a crucial moment: accelerating learning is critical. Above all, the learning function is charged with making sense of the future and translating it into learning experiences that help people deliver what the business needs.

Minds + Machines
Right now, too much of our workforce is focusing on menial tasks that may soon be taken over by machines. Instead, they should be focused on the human aspects of work that machines cannot replace.

The implication for learning: Re-prioritize work so that humans are focusing on things that matter and machines are handling the rest.

Exponential change
The rate of change is steadily increasing to the point where technology is changing much faster than humans are capable of. We are at a time now where technology has surpassed human adaptability—so how can humans cope?

The implication for learning: Make building the skill of agility a priority. There is no “do later”—it’s “do now” in today’s world, and that is enabled by lifelong learning and, within that lifetime, the ability to learn faster.

Data and more data—for what?
We have more data available to us than ever before — and will have more tomorrow than today. But value lies in transforming “data” into information and information into knowledge and knowledge into insights to drive business outcomes.

The implication for learning: Leverage data and analytics to better understand what the workforce is doing and use those insights to take action, reprioritizing work so people are focused on the top strategic imperatives of the business.

Ownership—yours, mine, and ours
The responsibility for learning must no longer be confined to the learning function. The learning team’s new role is as a catalyst and enabler of learning, while the business and individuals themselves are owners. For individuals, learning is fast becoming the new currency. In this sense, “millennial” is no longer just a generation; it’s a mind-set reflecting a shift from “I go to work for a salary/promotion/bonus” to “I go to work in order to develop my skills.”

The implication for learning: Learning’s focus should be on the future needs of the workforce, rather than what’s currently needed. Why? Because by the time we’re ready to address today’s needs, the need has passed. The learning team should engage the business and the workforce to better understand their needs for the future, and then align learning opportunities accordingly.

CLO resurgence and renaissance
As the organization’s learning leaders, CLOs are a catalyst for change and must seize their role as revolutionaries. The time is now to change how we think about learning—not just thinking outside the box, but with no constraining box at all. Technology is finally catching up to help us meet the demands of the business and of learners, and also improve the learning experience. What may seem far-fetched today could easily be reality tomorrow. CLOs need to be prepared to build a culture of courage. This culture can move individuals and organizations to challenge the status quo, take risks, fail fast, and keep pushing to develop everyone’s agility and facilitate ongoing, lifelong learning.

Our thanks to all of the Forum presenters and participants who shared their organizations’ journeys and their personal insights to create a valuable learning experience for all.

Amy A. Titus is a managing director, Organization Transformation and Talent, for Deloitte Consulting LLP. She is the co-dean of Deloitte’s Chief Learning Officer Forum and is responsible for helping to bring talent, learning, organization improvement, and change solutions to her clients.
Josh Haims is a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP. He is a senior leader in Deloitte’s Learning Solutions practice, co-dean of Deloitte’s Chief Learning Officer Forum, and sponsor of the Banking & Securities Learning Executive Roundtable.
Terry Patterson is a senior manager in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, helping clients achieve their business goals with talent practices that are designed and executed to support more engaged, more capable people within a positive, high-performance culture.
Joanne Kim is a manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Learning Solutions practice. She helps clients enable impactful learning experiences for their organizations.

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