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  • Writer's pictureLynda Koster

Unlocking Innovation and Fostering a Culture of Growth in the Digital Age

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Over the past several years, numerous business leaders and employees have expressed the need for a continuous learning model. This model is crucial for growth, essential for retaining top talent, and instrumental in maintaining workforce engagement.

Fortunately, several organizations are intensifying their efforts and investing more in workforce development and engagement initiatives. Companies such as Walmart, Verizon, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Amazon, and PwC have collectively invested billions of dollars globally in the future of work, workforce development, and digital training and technology to support their clients and communities.

These examples underscore the significance placed on closing the skills gap, which could create new opportunities for businesses, students, and professionals worldwide. Additionally, they highlight the evolving landscape of professional development, the importance of continuous improvement, and the necessity for real-time and lifelong learners.

Accelerated Learning Resources for Upskilling, Reskilling, or Deepening Skills for Your Team

In the era of digital transformation, there is a growing need to accelerate the path from learning to practical application that drives tangible business outcomes. This has become a priority for numerous companies, individuals, and those in management positions.

If you're looking to deepen engagement and enhance your team's skill sets, a multitude of digital learning environments, development paths, and platform solutions cater to the diverse needs of businesses and team members alike. Some examples include:

  • Coursera for Business – Offering packages for teams and smaller organizations as well as enterprise-level integrations, Coursera provides global training and development programs developed by top universities and companies. Their essential skills roadmap covers business, technology, and data, with tracks spanning marketing, product, sales, finance, engineering, data science, and management.

  • HubSpot Academy – Although HubSpot is a platform, the courses in the academy are not exclusively platform-specific. They excel at providing free online training courses for inbound marketing, content strategy, sales, service, design, and more, formatted in easily digestible lessons to maintain learner engagement.

  • LinkedIn Learning – Catering to Business, Creative, and Technology professionals, LinkedIn has developed learning paths to help focus efforts on a specific topic or career track. They excel at incorporating professional and soft skill development in ways that others may not.

  • Google Skillshop – For skills with immediate practical application, Google designed e-learning courses and certifications for individuals and businesses using their products, such as Google Ads, Search, Marketing Platform, Analytics, and Waze Ads.

  • Meta Blueprint for Business – To help businesses build digital marketing knowledge with Facebook and Instagram, they offer free online training, resources, and certifications.

  • Amazon AWS Training – For organizations requiring individuals with cloud skills, Amazon offers training and certification courses that enable professionals to maximize the benefits of the cloud. It's useful for non-cloud experts to familiarize themselves with this space as well, even if it's just to align their language with their peers.

  • Executive Education Providers – Universities are also adapting for leaders across organizations. For instance, Northwestern's Kellogg Executive Program launched a class titled "Digital Marketing Strategies: Data, Automation, AI & Analytics" to meet the demand for this topic. I took this a few years ago and it was fantastic. This is one of several opportunities targeting executive education.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, with many more options such as Future Learn, Udacity, MIT, EdX, Udemy, Skillshare, and more.

Although many companies have some form of corporate training and learning management system in place, some don't delve deeply enough into specific areas or skill sets. By integrating open courseware and modules from the resources listed above, organizations can equip their talent with the necessary tools for success.

A hybrid solution would enable organizations to enrich their content while fostering continuous learning with the deep-skilling and ongoing reskilling required today.

Driving Growth and Elevating Your Team Through Collaborative Learning

Access to the right educational resources is just one aspect of accelerating learning pathways. Fostering a collaborative learning environment is another crucial element that can elevate your entire team and drive growth for the organization.

While many of the platforms listed earlier promote student interactions through discussion boards, encouraging collaborative learning within the teams that actually work together can significantly impact driving tangible outcomes for your specific business.

Business leaders and managers can combine the solutions above to collaborate with individual team members in creating personalized learning paths. They can also deepen engagement and learning through collaborative teamwork centered on a specific skill or topic. Furthermore, leaders can use modules as a stimulus to expand their thinking for new growth initiatives or innovation projects. The possibilities are endless.

Supporting the Need for Real-time Application

In addition to providing the right educational resources and collaborative learning environments, leaders must recognize the importance of timely, real-life applications. In Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development, Steve Glaveski writes:

"People learn best when they have to learn. Applying what’s learned to real-world situations strengthens one’s focus and determination to learn...Today’s employees often learn uniform topics, on L&D’s schedule, and at a time when it bears little immediate relevance to their role — and their learning suffers as a result."

As you explore new learning paths with your team, consider opportunities to facilitate the immediate application of their new knowledge in their roles. This approach will also reveal unique coaching and mentoring possibilities.

Fostering a Lifelong Learning Culture and Recognizing the Shared Responsibility

Leaders, managers, and HR teams play a critical role in ensuring that practices are in place to support learning. Equally important is employees' accountability for their own learning.

"Leaders, such as the CEO and line managers, should display behaviors that highlight the importance of learning, intellectual curiosity, and taking responsibility for one’s own learning journey... Forcing learning objectives and tools on the workforce could backfire, particularly when perpetual learning is required to keep up with the fast pace of emerging skill demands.”

As leaders acknowledge organizational needs and inspire team members to utilize the tools and models available, fostering a culture of learning and individual ownership is crucial. This approach will benefit both organizations and individual professionals in the present and future.

Developing a Continuous Learning Model and Talent that Drives Innovation

As our work landscape continues to evolve, we must be prepared to discover new ways to extend our teams' learning processes and knowledge flows, whether they are employed full-time, part-time, or as contractors.

Fostering a culture of learning can inspire innovative and creative thinking, keeping businesses agile and at the forefront of their industries. It also helps your team stay current and competitive in the market, which is essential for their professional growth. If team members feel they are falling behind, they may seek companies that offer better growth and development opportunities. As we develop and build upon existing expertise, we will have even more to offer our businesses, customers, employees, social communities, and collaborators.

As more of the changes proposed by forward-thinking business practitioners, leaders, and educators take shape, our workforce will improve exponentially. By considering the incorporation of some of these ideas into our learning models and making adjustments to our management practices, we can only imagine the innovations yet to come.


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