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Building Employee Skill sets Through Innovation and Adaptation
Shorter lifecycles. Faster production. Building skills. These are just a few of the factors affecting corporate training programs across the country. In order to advance, learning teams have to be more productive over shorter development times. Shrinking life cycles make it difficult for an organization to allow for skill building within their teams. Without corporate training, however, employee skill sets stagnate and the organization as a whole fails to adapt and innovate. The solution to overcoming these obstacles lies in an agile response and building skills through immersion.
Organizations can advance innovation by creating bursts of learning experiences that occur in many different ways. Over time, the workforce will increase its skills while completing the required work, and at the same time, driving innovation. The necessary building blocks to reach this goal involves five factors:
Intuition powered by a strategic approach requires combining unrelated ideas. As a result, organizations can generate productive, new ideas. For example, learning designers at IBM used this approach to develop a learning module that required learners to break down several approaches to problem solving used in a variety of industries, and then take these parts and pieces to come up with a new way to solve the problem.
Discovering new relationships, feedback and ideas involves networking across preferential partnerships. Because connecting with new partners is a new behavior for learners, practice is required. To develop new patterns of social connectivity, learning program designers can create exercises that group like-minded learners together and require them to communicate across silos, which also encourages lateral thought processes.
The act of exploration in learning programs involves first acknowledging opportunities and problems that arise, identifying solutions and then testing their outcomes. Learners must first create a unique approach and then test it against standard practices. By developing their own solutions, learners increase their confidence, while simultaneously measuring their ideas against criteria from real-world situations. As a result, the final outcome employed is effective and, at the same time, suitable as a solution.
A flexible approach to situations is imperative, as it helps learners quickly change course, and adapt to failures and successes. Learning programs can build this skill by creating modules that change the rules to the exercise, requiring the learners to also change approaches. Adaptations can include responding to new client requests, negotiation failures or new technologies.
Learners can gain the skill to decisively take action – even when the decision may disrupt the organization’s course – by undertaking exercises that limit the amount of time to make demanding decisions. The learning module should include information that is intentionally left out, or scenarios that are particularly difficult to navigate or include risky moves. As the time to take action diminishes, learners are forced to acknowledge the missing pieces of the puzzle and use the information to generate a solution.
Role-playing exercises that test learners’ ability to intuit, connect, explore, adapt and drive decisions lead to innovative thinking and improved skill sets. Powered by this kind of effective learning program, organizations can generate opportunities for employees to expand their skills across the workforce.