Building a robust learning ecosystem ready for future challenges

After a short break, the Learning at Large podcast is back with a brand new series – bringing you the top tips and tricks from learning leaders in some of the world’s biggest organizations.

Faced with a global pandemic, being ready to adapt your approach is key to remaining effective. In this week’s episode, hear how Casper Moerck, Siemens’ Head of Learning Technology – Americas, has responded to COVID-19. Explore how he’s creating a robust learning ecosystem ready for future challenges. From embracing a learning culture to crowdsourcing skills gaps, find out how he puts his people at the center of L&D.

Building a robust learning ecosystem ready for future challenges

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Top tips to future proof your learning ecosystem

Don’t have time to listen now? Here are five top tips from Casper:

  1. Get prepared for unpredictable challenges: Don’t wait for challenges to appear. Make a plan. Move to digital. Get ready so you can adapt without disruption.
  2. Put learners at the center of your ecosystem: Learning ecosystems bring together great tools. Make sure the user experience is just a good. 
  3. Build, buy and curate to maximize your impact: Populate your ecosystem with mixture of content. Buying off the shelf can help you maximize your budget.
  4. Embrace all learning to see unexpected benefits: Let your people learn about what interests them. The spark of inspiration can come from surprising sources.
  5. Crowdsource your skills gaps: Keep pace with change by staying future focussed. Look to your learners to identify the skills you’ll need in the future.

1. Get prepared for unpredictable challenges

COVID-19 has created unprecedented levels of change around the world. Whatever sector you’re in, being ready to adapt has never been so important. So, what can you do to support your people as they face these current and future challenges?

From virus hygiene to ergonomics, COVID-19 has created some obvious learning needs. But other support may be harder to predict and more complicated to provide. Siemens had already been making a move towards digital. So, Casper was ready to adapt and continue to provide support without disruption.

“For our managers, how do you remain effective as a leader? We’re already very digital. That means that all the [leadership] classroom training that we had planned, we’ve cancelled. But we do have very good alternatives in the online space.”

2. Put learners at the center of your ecosystem

If you look to one piece of technology, you’re unlikely to meet all your business’ needs. Instead, think about learning and development as an ecosystem. Whether you’re looking at talent acquisition or learning content, it’s about choosing the best technology for the task. But with lots of systems, tools and resources, how do you make this ecosystem user friendly?

For a long time, user experience was not the priority in L&D. With more online learning available, creating one clean interface is the only way to avoid overwhelming people. For Casper, a learning ecosystem can only really be effective if it puts its users first. 

“The experience that our learners have had with elearning has been really poor. Especially compared to the interfaces that people use in their daily lives. Like Facebook. It’s so simple that you don’t need training to use that system… [By] providing what looks like a common front end [to the ecosystem]…we create a nice user experience.”

3. Build, buy and curate to maximize your impact

From digital to supply chain, each business, division and individual has different needs. So, how do you ensure your organization has what it needs to be effective? 

Casper doesn’t take one approach to learning content. Just as his learning ecosystem brings together the best tools, it’s also packed with all kinds of learning resources and journeys. Casper populates his ecosystem with a mixture of built, curated and off the shelf content. Using the right approach to content allows him to maximize the impact of his budget.

“I think you want to build your own content, when it’s the only way to do it…. If it can be bought off the shelf, I don’t really want to build it myself, right? It’s like cornflakes. I mean, sure, you could probably make cornflakes yourself, but why would you?”

4. Embrace all learning to see unexpected benefits

What your people want to learn isn’t necessarily what your business needs them to learn. Of course, you need to give your people a career development path that fits with your organization’s goals. But should learning only focus on achieving these capabilities?

Casper believes that, if you embrace all kinds of learning, you’ll see some surprising benefits. Letting people build their own learning journeys can identify new needs. Exploring unrelated content can lead to that unexpected piece of inspiration. Whatever your people are learning about, the key things is that they’re engaging in the process.

“You never know, that piece of learning might inspire someone to do something great. What if the person learning about Beethoven comes up with the next jingle? …What if that person who studied feudal Chinese culture went out and made a $500 million deal in some province in China?”

5. Crowdsource your skills gaps

Whether it’s a global crisis or consumer expectations, all organizations deal with change. If you’re going to keep pace, you need to be future focussed. But how do you know which skills you need for continued success? 

Siemens has moved from a focus on instructional design to a learning needs analysis approach. For Casper, it’s about understanding at an organizational and individual level what’s needed. Start with what you think you need to remain competitive in the next one to five years. Look to your learners. How do the skills attached to their profiles match what you need? Are there any new skills appearing on profiles that you need to support? 

“Asking all Siemens employees whether the skills attached to their profiles are up to date. Or whether there are new skills that are necessary in their roles. And once we see new skills pop up, we can support that. So, crowdsourcing using technologies, like our LXP.”

A quick recap

Faced with unprecedented levels of change, Casper was able to adapt his approach without disruption. He has five strategies to future proof a learning ecosystem. Get prepared so you can adapt quickly. Don’t just build a learning ecosystem – create great user experiences. Know when to buy or curate, rather than build content. Embrace all learning and inspire your people. Crowdsource your skills gaps by asking your learners what’s needed.

Want to find out more? Check out the full podcast. 

About Casper

Casper joined Siemens in 2012. With over 10 years’ L&D experience, he became Head of Learning Technology – Americas in 2017. He supports learning solutions across the organization using a variety of technologies.

You can find out more and get connected with Casper on LinkedIn.

On Casper’s reading list

Find out which reading informs Casper’s approach to L&D.

World Economic Forum Future Work Reports

The World Economic Forum’s Future Work reports explore the changing world of skills, tasks and jobs. These reports inform how Casper anticipates the evolving needs of his people. Check them out here.

Podcasts

Casper knows that inspiration can come in many forms. From a Navy SEAL’s work routine to ancient philosophy, podcasts are a wealth of information on many things. 

Looking for more reading tips? Check out our book blog

Join the conversation! 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our podcast, so feel free to get in touch on Twitter @Elucidat with any questions or queries. You can also email Simon, our podcast host, at simon@elucidat.com. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to Learning at Large in your favorite podcast app and leave us a 5-star rating if you enjoyed it. Thank you for joining us, and see you next time.

Looking to future proof your organizations training with effective, scalable online training? Help your team take your training online sustainably with help of the Digital Learning Skill-Up – A community of over 1000 L&D professionals, who share best practice and top tips.

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