In the new normal, the idea of learning is evolving. Learning now determines the organizations that will thrive and those that will lose relevance and fade away. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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In the new normal, the idea of learning is evolving. Learning now determines the organizations that will thrive and those that will lose relevance and fade away. 

Learning plays an integral role in every organization. But in the new normal, the idea of learning is evolving. Today, the process of acquiring knowledge is about more than the ability to educate oneself. A learning enterprise anticipates the future and builds its organization to get there. Learning now determines the organizations that will thrive and those that will lose relevance and fade away. 

[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””] Consider the illustrious 100-year history of the Eastman Kodak Company. A leader in the photographic film market, it dominated the market and even coined the term a “Kodak moment”, which is a dictionary-listed synonym for how an occasion is memorialized with a photograph. But Kodak failed to anticipate the shift to digital photography. It now remains a cautionary tale of the giants of the analogue era who disappeared into oblivion. [/box]

In the new decade, the pandemic has triggered its own “Kodak” moment, reflected in an accelerating rate of change, which has not been seen in the last century. Even as AI and machine learning create intelligent solutions, technology is transforming the dynamics of an office, enabling enterprises to leverage global talent pools. Across industries and technologies, agile and innovative start-ups have an advantage. The top leaders of the new normal, like Zoom, did not even exist more than ten years ago. In such a world, companies with fresh ideas, which do not have the baggage of the past, will make inroads.

Adaptability and a learning quotient have become more important than ever before. These will increasingly become a hallmark of the future. 

Four key traits of a learning organization 

Traditionally, the information technology industry has always responded to customer demand. IT organizations have been successful in identifying and fulfilling customer needs. But this will no longer be sufficient for enterprises of the future. Organizations will not just have to learn to respond to the customer journey but will have to predict it as well. Here are four attributes that distinguish such a future-ready learning organization.  

It anticipates change: First, a learning organization anticipates shifts in technology and business models, adopting these early in the cycle. Its leaders empathize with customer pain points and steer the organization to address tomorrow’s most important problems. Consider Zoom’s move into peer-to-peer software based on cloud technology in 2011 in a still nascent market. A decade later, when the need for simple, collaborative telecommunications skyrocketed during the pandemic, Zoom proved to have accurately forecasted future demand. It was the right company at the right time. 

It enables seamless collaboration: Second, these organizations blur enterprise boundaries to enable seamless collaboration between the teams working on deal acquisition, product or service development, and delivery. Once an organization can collaborate and specialize at scale, it is also possible to train and cross-skill existing talent to master new technologies and services. For instance, the audio streaming services provider Spotify evolved a new approach to break down such silos, where it organized teams based on their work and not just traditional technology practices. Their agile approach helped them build the world’s most popular such platform, which offers anytime, anywhere access to over 286 million users.  

It embeds training systems into delivery models: Third, training systems are embedded into a learning organization’s delivery model. At Mphasis, our Talent Next platform looks at the optimum way to scale people for new demand. Moving away from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to training, it now recommends courses for employees who have the attitude and aptitude to excel at a particular service or technology. Powered by AI, Talent Next curates and hyper-personalizes a training program customized for each employee.  

It facilitates decentralized decision-making: Fourth, it creates the structural wherewithal to recognize customer needs, execute new service lines rapidly, and pivot with agility. It does this by identifying organization champions who can take fast decisions at the operational level. Such a flat organizational structure, decentralized leadership, and operational decision-making are the distinguishing traits of a learning organization. 

The essential outcomes of learning organizations 

These characteristics combine to create three essential outcomes, which consistently drive impact for a learning organization. First, it produces new services and becomes more relevant to customer needs. Second, it demonstrates speed and agility as its strength. Third, it takes decisions at an operational level and removes dependencies on the executive leadership team to guide decision-making.   

Enterprises that make the structural changes to build the essential traits of a learning organization into their DNA successfully demonstrate these outcomes. These businesses work with speed and cater to customer demands. They easily adopt new models and are continuously evolving. 

In such a learning organization, leadership is demonstrated by the foresight to identify the next new wave of technologies and services. This visionary ability is what separates good and great organizations. It is also what it makes crucial for businesses to embark on the journey to become a learning enterprise. 

This article is authored by Ravi Vasantraj, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Business Process Services Mphasis

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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