Talent Development for a Digital World of Tomorrow

By Madana Kumar, Vice President & Global Head-Learning & Development, UST Global

Talent development professionals have had their fair share of challenges always. It ranged from the mundane things of how to keep the interest of the learner, learning adoption learning penetration etc to the more serious aspects of strategic involvement, ROI and Business Impact. However, there is a new challenge on the scene that seems to overshadow all the previous challenges. This is called Digitisation.

That the world is going digital is a stark reality. Digitisation is no more science fiction stuff. Intelligent Robots have come out of the books and the silver screens into our living rooms. Self-driven cars are no more confined to James Bond movies.

One of the major myths about Digitisation is that it is all about technology. Actually it is not. It is about a mindset. That is how in our organisation we started to look at Digitisation as a culture building activity, than merely a technology adoption program. We identified three key drivers to building Digital Talent. They are

1. Engagement: Todays talent is diverse in their thinking, their worldviews, their belief systems, apart from the global nature of the talent that we have the privilege of tapping into. The Talent of the Digital word of tomorrow are also “Born to Learn”. We see children getting accustomed to smartphones and tablets very early in their life. To make it more complex, the Talent of today is very connected. Access to information is easy. Under these challenges, what Talent Professionals need to look for are ways to Engage the talent appropriately.

2. Capability: Our belief is that we need talent that has high capability to “Innovate”. The old order is being and need to be, continuously questioned and challenged. New ideas and new ways of doing things need to be invented and implemented. Innovation by itself will not succeed unless we are able to “Narrate” our stories well to all stakeholders. All this needs to be done in a Digitised manner, accessible to everyone, and quickly. Thus the three capabilities we believe are key to building Digital Talent are Innovation, Narration and Digitisation.

3. Organisation: The organisations of the Digital world are becoming increasingly agile. They need to be quick on decisions and actions. The traditional organisation hierarchical structure is vanishing and Project based organisation structure is becoming the norm. Levels are disappearing and organisations are becoming more flat. As the world gets interconnected more, and the client base becomes global, organisations are forced to change themselves into global organisations. Mindset is changing from Enterprise to Entrepreneurial. What we need to look for is Talent that will work in that Agile, Project Based, Flat, Global, Entrepreneurial organisation of the Digital world of tomorrow.

Based on these three Drivers and the challenges associated with them, Talent development professionals have to recast their strategy. A model of 4 to $4 strategy was adopted by us to drive this change in our organisation.

1. Expected Outcomes: While the final outcome of any Talent development strategy remains Client success and Business Growth, we need to augment the Expected outcomes with Building a digital culture and Creating an Engaged and Diverse workforce. This set of expected outcomes require organisations to focus on the following three pillars.

2. Experience: The world is moving into a mindset where the user experience is king. This is true in Talent development too. Traditional ways of learning and Talent development is passé. Learners are looking for world-class experiences. Talent development professionals need to provide Device agnostic, Just in time learning opportunities, delivered using multi-mode systems. A culture of Self driven learning is the need of the hour. Intelligent curation becomes a key aspect if Self Driven learning is to take root.

3. Enablement: Talent development needs to be enabled through various ways. Some of the items we have seen working are Creating and nurturing centers of excellence and Thought leadership within the Talent Development organisation itself. In other words, Talent development professionals cannot be successful merely by “administering” to the process. In addition we need to create Learning platforms which are digital and easy to search, access and record. The good news is that we don’t have to build everything from scratch. The start-up culture out there helps us to build a partner eco-system that will assist us in this enablement. Talent development professionals need to smartly build this eco-system with the most appropriate partner.

4. Engagement: Engaging diverse constituencies of learning is a challenging task itself. The good news is that Millennial Learning is not limited to the Talent of the Millennial generation alone. With efforts, other generations can also adapt to Millennial Learning methodologies. Having insight into the actual user’s needs provides the necessary connection to the big picture for learners. Anthropology, Design Thinking, Design for Happiness etc are things that help put a greater purpose to what the learners learn, and thus engage them well. When we expect others to innovate, Learning needs to be innovative too. Understanding competencies required for the Digital world of tomorrow and being able to narrate them using the right analytics significantly enhance the engagement levels of the learners.

When we start implementing this 4to4 strategy, we will see that there are certain focus areas that emerge. 

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