The State of L&D in Digital Transformation:

”Change is Happening Here and Now”

Each year in December, the HR and L&D community come together in Berlin for a day filled with learning, networking and peer exchange at Speexx Exchange. This year, over 150 HR and L&D professionals joined us to exchange best practices, explore trends, discuss current benchmark reports, and above all- discuss the challenges for L&D in digital transformation and how the community is tackling them here and now.

laura overton speexx exchange 2018

“Change is happening here and now.’’ -Laura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity and keynote speaker and moderator of Speexx Exchange

Laura kicked off the day by presenting insightful new data on how the L&D landscape has shaped up over the years, from 2003 to now . “L&D in digital transformation means developing a high performing learning culture that is agile, responsive and ready for change. Are we ready for this?’’ she asked.

Although HR and L&D are aware of where they need to be in order for successful digital transformation to take shape, it’s not an easy road to get there, says Laura.
The latest Towards Maturity report reveals that some of the biggest challenges at this stage are 65% of L&D staff lack knowledge about how to use technology in learning, and 49% have a learner reluctance and bad past online experiences which hold them back. She explained how the L&D transformation is comparable to a series of S curves, known as the Transformation Curve, and that in order to move forward and leave past failures behind, it is necessary to let go of previous successes, control and ownership, outdated technology, siloed thinking, and fear of rejection.

speexx exchange 2018 community collaboration

Experience, Exposure, Education

The amount of data and information people deal with on a daily basis is increasing; professionals around the world are feeling the overwhelming pressure and constant need to acquire new skills and be agile and flexible in their working environments. Citi’s Anca Iordache and Brian Murphy shared their story of learning transformation and how they cultivate a culture of continuous learning at Citi. Their recipe for success starts with a practical way to build higher performance, otherwise known as the 3 E’s: Experience, Exposure, and Education.

Brian asserts that practice and reflection is key, and that Citi encourages its employees to make a habit of taking a few minutes out of each day to reflect. ‘’We ask ourselves three questions: what happened the previous day, what did you learn from it, and what can you do today to make yourself better? This simple reflection helps build your ability to do your job better and be more,’’ he said.

Anca explained that when managers have discussions with their teams and take the time to reflect, it’s also important to get personal and have completely human conversations, even if it means detaching the topic from work. ‘’Sometimes we simply ask people to tell us about a time when they were at their best – this can be  about a time when they were skiing, or spending time with a child and being involved in their community or volunteering. We really want to encourage people to show up with their total human being and strength at work,” said Anca.

abel henry UNICEF speexx exchange 2018 panel discussion

Make Learning Relevant by Listening

Along with live polling, interactive sessions and reality checks, an active panel discussion kept the conversation digging deeper into the topic of opportunities for L&D in digital transformation. With a knowledgeable and diverse panel consisting of HR and L&D thought leaders coming from different nations and organizations around the globe, we heard from Rowan Johnson of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, Daniel Redondo from UN Migration, Abel Henry from UNICEF, and Prof. Dr. Bernd Rüschoff trom the University of Duisberg-Essen.

”Many L&D professionals struggle on how to get to grips with understanding the impact of their delivery programs and what factors influence the outcomes,” said Laura, as she asked the panel members whether they had any hints or tricks on how to gain more insight on this issue on delivery impact. ‘’The three E’s that Citi mentioned this morning are important,’’ said Prof. Dr. Bernd Rüschoff. He explained that through the findings of a recent survey his team conducted, they determined that including experience diversified activities, networking activities and collaborating activities and tasks, makes a successful and flexible learning environment. He noted that they also found learners prefer learning through their personal social experiences, rather than being stuck in a traditional computer lab. He also added that this information is forcing schools in Germany to rethink traditional learning environments and to embrace the development of more blended learning and elearning digital plans.

Rowan Johnson on opportunities in digital transformation

In some cases, we learned that the relevance of learning programs is more than a matter of ROI, it can be a matter of life and death. This is the case for Rowan Johnson, Daniel Redondo, and Abel Henry, who come from organizations where their training and learning development programs are helping save lives around the clock; such as the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, UN Migration, and UNICEF. They shared the importance of their learning programs to not only deliver the right content to their people at the right time, but also the solutions they’ve discovered when dealing with challenges such as bandwidth constraints, time constraints and cross-cultural communication discrepancies.

Charle from Saint Goban on L&D in digital transformation

Take Risks

‘’I think you should never underestimate what value you can bring. By getting out there and testing and learning and trying new things and involving as many people as possible, it’s just amazing the things we can achieve.’’ -Charlene Berneau, Corporate Digital Learning Manager at Saint Gobain

Indeed, the companies leading digital transformation are those who are not afraid to take risks. Throughout the day, our speakers shared their stories of how letting go of previous successes, control, outdated technology, and fear of rejection, helped them be where they are today.

Britta Schottel from Vistaprint shared her team’s key learnings on launching a new project and how it took learning from a few failures in order to come out successful in the end. For her team, working in a fast-changing environment meant that once they were ready to roll out a new program, the content the program consisted of was already outdated. ‘’We learned that standard solutions do not fit global needs,’’ she said.

Geoffroy de lestrange on L&D in digital transformation

Geoffroy de Lestrange of Cornerstone OnDemand also revealed data from a recent survey and uncovered more about the Four Innovator Archetypes. He argued that technology is killing off traditional companies who are afraid to adapt in the age of digital transformation, and the average lifespan of a company is now approximately less than twenty years – before, the average was a sixty-year lifespan.

Speexx Exchange L&D in Digital Transformation

L&D in Digital Transformation

‘’One interesting thing is some of the challenges that I’m hearing about in terms of learning about our users and learning how to better reach them and better measure the impact of the learning that we are delivering to them. I’ve learned how other organizations are tackling different challenges and the strategies they are using. In the end, I think the main thing I have realized is that there is a really varied audience here but it’s this community and common ground that we can use to create conversations that are delivering really interesting points and solutions to topics that matter to us all,” said Rowan Johnson, Private Sector Adviser of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.

After hearing from many first-timers at Speexx Exchange, as well as Exchange veterans, one thing was made clear – Speexx Exchange is about community and collaboration. Finding your tribe, connecting with your L&D community and discovering solutions together to solve the challenges everyone is facing can help improve the alarming rate of 65% of L&D professionals who are not ready to face digital transformation, as well as help alleviate the 49% who are being held back from moving forward (due to past bad experiences).

Join the discussion! Pre-register for Speexx Exchange 2019 and meet top HR and L&D professionals from around the globe, to discuss trends, best practices, and the state of learning and development.