How are you ‘future readying’ and embracing digital change and transformation?

Career development / Learning and development / News
Melanie Small
By Melanie Small | 19th September 2019

Last week we ran our first thought-leadership event in collaboration with Talent & Potential; Developing people and transforming business in a digital age. In my previous blog I discussed how digital transformation is affecting all businesses. Through this event, we aimed to provide a forum to discuss its impact on the L&D function, as well as network with like-minded peers.

With attendees from a range of national and international organisations, all of whom have responsibility for engaging, cultivating and developing people, it was a day of rich conversations and thought-provoking knowledge sharing. In the words of one delegate, the event proved to be: “Stimulating, fascinating, terrifying and interesting … a bit like being on a roller coaster!” Here I share an overview of the topics we covered and our team will be delving into these in more detail in future articles.

“If a man will begin with certainties…”

Our CEO, Phil Purver, opened with a look at how businesses are transforming themselves and the importance of observation and reflection and what we can discover from history when it comes to innovation and learning. We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, which is why the digital transformation agenda is so key. He highlighted a great quote from Francis Bacon from 1605, which still applies today: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties”.

Embracing future talent

Vicki Sanderson, Human Resources Director, The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) is a TWM client and the HQ was the host venue for the event. We were all hugely impressed with the beautiful architecture and surroundings. Vicki explained how the UK needs 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025; making skills development and apprenticeship programmes key. She explained the difference that MTC has made, and continues to make, when it comes to upskilling, R&D and positively bridging the gap between academia and industry. MTC’s powerful vision of ‘inspiring Great British manufacturing on the global stage’ is compelling and this was brought to life together with some of the key challenges MTC has successfully addressed and the people plan and approach that was taken.

Data, data everywhere…

Sarah Hobbs shared some of the critical data from Talent & Potential’s research into the habits of successful people. This was followed by data scientist, Benjamin Ellis, who captivated our audience with his insights about using data to support people strategies. Organisations are drowning in data, but they often fail to understand what’s behind the statistics; focusing more on instrumented data - a record of past activity - and less on attitudinal, qualitative and quantitative data. The biggest issue with data is what’s missing. We need to get significantly better at asking the right questions to provide the right data to fully support the right decision-making around learning and development.

The future of learning technology

Futurist, Matt O’Neil, took us on a fascinating journey into emerging and future technologies. The growth of AI in learning will continue and we’re going to be using augmentation and VR in increasingly sophisticated ways. Technological change has accelerated in recent decades and we’ll continue to see a shift in skill development from learned to intuited skills. The emerging paradigm will include task-based teams, remote working, micro-entrepreneurial enterprises and a corporate gig economy. From 2025 onward, Matt forecasts the rise of neural interfaces and ‘cognitech’, including neuroadaptive and neuromodulated learning. He urged us to ‘future ready’ ourselves!

Inspiring panel discussion and break-out sessions

As the day unfolded, our panel from O2, Polygon, MTC and Talent & Potential shared their deep experience of talent management, culture, attitudinal data and career development. Delegates were then given a choice of inspiring workshops, with topics including blended learning experiences and personalised learning.

The magic that can happen

Kate Jones, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Tarmac, closed the day with her first-hand experience of the magic that can happen when you bring your talent development, communications and HR departments together. She described how a blend of learning, reflections and learning projects can be used to harness ambitions, fill skills gaps, address diversity and find space for introverts to shine.

“You are never too small to make a difference”

Today’s leaders need to be smart users of the data that comes their way, it is one of their superpowers perhaps, and they must consider how to best use it. We all must use our filters and understand how best to get to the root causes of business obstacles. One thing for sure is that we will all have to continuously develop digital fluency so that we can better prepare for the future to grow and develop.

In the words of Greta Thunberg, “You are never too small to make a difference” and we hope that the event we initiated contributed some powerful thought-leadership, helping us each individually to make a difference to the way we transform businesses and develop people in the digital age.

Take a look at our video from the day.

Melanie Small is TWM’s Business Growth Director with over 20 years' experience in the people and organisational development industry.

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