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How to achieve learning agility

How to achieve learning agility

I recently wrote about how organisations can develop their culture through learning to uncover hidden talent. It struck me that relying on a corporate culture to identify talent is central to a much bigger issue. 

The reality is that talent should not be able to hide within a business.

I feel that most large organisations think like institutions and are not 'learner or employee centric'. Let me expand on that notion – much has been written about the millennial generation and their attitude, but I believe they are right in thinking: ‘It’s all about me. Not the organisation’. 

In the modern world of work, much has changed. Baby boomers, familiar with a jobs-for-life mentality, are moving rapidly towards retirement. Many years ago, Japan headed into major recession because much of its economy was based on a ‘one life, one job’ system. When the world changed, workers were left with skills but no place to work.

Now all that has ended. Organisations need people who are multi-talented, have a flexible approach to accumulating skills and are eminently role adaptable.

For a company to attract, retain and grow, within a fast-changing marketplace – one where it’s impossible to define what skills will be needed, let alone what jobs will be available, in five years – now’s the time to get on the bandwagon. Organisations should now be ‘learner and employee centric’. 

If businesses adapt their thinking to this new reality, they can totally change their view on learning. This leads to what I think are the avenues of attracting, retaining and growing the very best talent on offer.

The talents and abilities that employees arrive with may be redundant in a couple of years – therefore, they need to develop new skills. They must be able to fit in with an organisation’s culture, be demonstrably adaptable, and show that they’re keen to learn at every opportunity.

This path gives credence to new employees and allows them to define, in consultation with peers and business leadership, what future value they can bring.

If you’re planning to employ the best available talent, those newcomers will expect to be part of the best learning initiatives that the organisation can deliver. They want to do well, perform well and be recognised or even rewarded for doing so. This is not an option, it’s a given – otherwise they’ll be quickly heading for the door. 

Last year, I spent some time with the IT, HR and L&D teams at a new hospital. Their single biggest concern was: would the new learning management system (LMS) run the old SCORM formal training content on resuscitation? If this type of training content is not something that should be regularly modified and updated, with new people processes, systems and reactive capability, awareness, new techniques and technologies, then I don’t know what should.

This tells us something that we need to consider about the way in which we deal with this learning opportunity – encourage and grow, add new skills, reward new achievements. Even if it didn’t have an impact on this year’s results, I can assure you that it will have a major influence on the culture of the business and the talented individuals who are, potentially, ready to consider your organisation for their next role.

These new hires won’t want to remain hidden in the business – they arrived with skills and talents and need those to be uploaded into the LMS and HR system. They aim to be visible, valued and recognised, and will also expect to learn new skills. 

These employees will be flexible, talented and technology-led people who are able to adapt their skills. Businesses should heed that requirement and expectation by using corporate learning agility. 

Much of my time is spent talking to organisations who are reviewing their old LMS to see what they would like to add, replace or update. This rear-view mirror approach will not work for future learner needs.

If you’re reviewing you LMS, look forward and plan for the future – how will you upload and recognise existing skills to provide a benefit for your employees? How will you link them to their peers and managers as social connections, allowing (and encouraging) collaboration and sharing? Can you engage external audiences?


Attract the right talent, let them grow and develop new skills and capabilities within your organisation – you don't know when you might need them.

Encourage learning, reward and recognition as part of your company ethos. Make it a part of what you do and new learners will beat a path to your HR team.


Guest blog by John Driscoll

This is a guest post by John Driscoll from Agylis ANZ, an official Agylia partner in Australia and New Zealand. John regularly writes about learning technologies and practices via his LinkedIn articles

Author: John Driscoll

This article was published by John Driscoll on 02.04.2019. John is founder of Agylis ANZ, an Agylia Official Partner in Australia and New Zealand. John works with corporate, government and educational organisations to modernise their learning experiences.

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