Creating a learning practice with a future focus!

Ravi Chatterjee

Organisational learning in the service sector has been mostly predicated by the need to develop skills that solve immediate problems at hand. This view is informed by a mechanistic view of the organisation which looks at learning and development as one of the many tools of fixing problems that the organisation could be facing at any given point in time. This can be seen in the manner in which learning needs are analysed. The analyses mostly provide a list of skill gaps required to fulfil some key tasks currently under deployment.

The alternative to this view is an organic one, that is holistic and future focused. Leaders need to position the learning function not only to build skills for “now” but for the future as well. This might require the leaders articulate the skills and attitudes required to fulfil long term business vision. For example, a question that leaders could explore is: “Where do we see our business three to five years down the line and what capabilities would be required then?” I am sure answering this question may not be easy in a fast changing business environment. However, a bespoke needs analyses underpinned by a deep appreciation of organisational culture can throw up interesting insights.

The investment in future focused learning creates critical mass of skilled and engaged professionals who help the organisation win the war on talent. These professionals become the early adopters of change and contribute significantly to the transformational initiatives by providing the initial impetus as well as making the change stick. As these early adopters understand the overall cultural DNA of the organisation, it becomes easier for them to position the benefits of the change in a more authentic and credible way for everybody else who is sitting on the fence.

As in the age-old fable of the ant and the grasshopper, it is important to invest today in capabilities to make the organisation future ready.

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