COVID-19 has made many organisations face new and unexpected challenges, the greatest being the rapid UpSkilling or Re-Skilling of their workforces. As much as we have seen certain business sectors suffer in the face of the current crisis; others have taken flight increasing their value by more than 100%. Take Cameyo for example, they are a remote work software provider who, in a single week in March, saw demand for its products and services balloon by a whopping 600%.
The jury is in and facts are facts. What we are seeing is that those who have been able to rapidly adapt, embrace, and drive company-wide communications towards virtual tools have been successful in maintaining, and in some cases, increasing their momentum. A clear advantage of being adaptive lies in the confidence and trust our people, clients, stakeholders, or markets, subsequently have in us. The caveat: a zero-sum opportunity cost, which in turn results in us becoming their credible source of thought leadership, direction, support and go-to supplier that provides adapted solutions which can, in turn, enable them to navigate the present and prepare for the unexpected.
What essential questions should you ask yourself to thrive:
- How can we “work smarter” and more effectively to prepare for a post COVID-19 world?
- How can we restructure to enhance and sustain organisational learning?
- How do we foster and drive a culture of continuous lifelong learning at present as well as one that will evolve into the future?
- How can we best communicate to our staff and leaders, and provide them with honest yet mindful feedback to support their continued improvement?
- Which resources (e.g., EQ, RQ, time, money, facilities, technology) must we be leveraging to advance and drive our virtual learning culture?
Resilience in action
For many of us meetings have now become entirely or partially virtual and are now part of our normal work environment; the infamous NEW NORMAL no one saw coming. This has resulted in two new normals.
- Companies are restructuring and redirecting L&D capacity internally toward the provision and supply of in-house resources to skill their workforces in the use of virtual productivity, application, software, tools, products and services.
- Companies who supply training are being inundated with demand, going beyond the scope of their core offerings, and are having to develop at pace and at scale high quality solutions adapted to each client’s specific needs.
Like everyone else, UpSkill Digital faces many challenges and hurdles to overcome. The crisis prompted a transformative shift resulting in us ramping up our lines of Virtual Live Learning products in the space of one month; something we were on the path to truly scale.
So far, 2020 has seen us celebrate our 5th year of operating and over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to partner and work on incredible Digital Transformation projects with renowned industry leading partners.
The Upskill Digital team may be small but has a highly effective cohort of employees, freelancers and external contributors. We are humble, hungry, passionate and empathetic, love a challenge, but most importantly, WE LOVE TO LEARN!
The one thing we always drive ourselves to do, is to mimic, adapt and implement the growth tactics and practices of those we admire, work for or with. This cultural mindset is just as true when it comes to learning from one another, what we are proud advocates of. But what is it that helps us successfully navigate change or the unexpected? It’s becoming and being a LEARNING ORGANISATION.
What are the elements that need to be adopted to become a learning organisation?
Empathetic, inclusive & mindful leadership is key to building a virtual learning culture. It creates an environment where the entire organisation and its employees can thrive, fostering out-of-the-box thinking through creative solutions to achieve what may have seemed impossible & most importantly, keeps their employees engaged!
So what should you implement that embodies people-centred leadership:
- A way to help keep your workforce connected
- Provide adequate resources for combating feelings of isolation
- Encourage communicating with effectiveness
“Care for your people… and your people will take care of business!”
A Digital Transformation mindset
- Being value-driven & Customer-centric
- Having robust yet modular & agile processes
- Having a bias for, testing, being okay with failure, problem-finding and problem solving
- Capabilities in reacting and acting in the moment
- Openness to reevaluating & questioning the validity of your business decisions and strategy
Actually being a learning organisation
Instilling in and recruiting for the following mindsets, attitudes, behaviours and habits will ensure that your workforce will be filled with innovation-driven creatives with unparalleled zeal for learning.
Your team will:
- Learn faster than your competitors
- Learn within the organisation (from each other and working groups)
- Learn outside the organisation (from suppliers and consumers)
- Learn vertically (from the top to the bottom and from the bottom up of your organisation)
- Become a critical thinker, ask insightful questions and apply action learning
- Forecast unexpected future realities, create scenarios, and use them to learn
- Put into practice what was learned, learn by doing
- Learn at a quicker pace than that at which changes occurs in external environments
- Gain knowledge in spheres which you have yet to learn from
- Cultivate and promote a bias for curiosity, thoroughness and data-driven decision making
- Build around value-based relationships with a focus on emotional intelligence that will produce products, services or experience customers care truly about
Which will allow your business to:
- Maintain levels of innovation and remain competitive
- Improve efficiency
- Have the knowledge to better link resources to customer needs
- Improve quality of outputs at all levels
- Improve corporate image by becoming more people oriented
- Increase the pace of change within the organisation
- Strengthen the sense of community within the organisation
- Improve long term decision making
- Improve knowledge sharing
Who’s Doing It Right & Thriving?
You’ve heard what we have to say, so let’s look at who’s doing it right and as a result, their teams and businesses are thriving.
In recent years, the global company has been working on an AI technology initiative called ‘Deep Brew’, a broad suite of AI tools meant to enhance customer experiences and business operations.
Deep Brew focuses on the heavy lifting of inventory and supply chain management by giving analysts the data they need to automate processes.
To elevate the customer experience for over 16 million Starbucks Rewards loyalty members, Deep Brew AI creates personalised experiences for each individual based on preferences, order history, location, weather, and time of day.
Personalisation is not only for the customers. Deep Brew AI can also help baristas organise their time based on the order’s location. So, if a customer is 10 miles away, baristas can know how much time they will need to make the order and prioritise other orders in the meantime. (Socialbakers, 2020)
IKEA making lives better
There are many reasons it goes wrong. There is, of course, the broad issue of enacting any sort of major change at companies of this scale. Yet, as we’ve seen, the will and the resource is there. The greater issue tends to be the failure to link it to business strategy. Time and again we see multi-billion-pound companies launch themselves into a vast digital transformation initiative with no clear idea of how it affects the brand or adds to people’s lives. That’s when they fail.
Contrast this with IKEA’s approach. From the outset it’s had a strategic vision for its digital transformation: to “create a better everyday life for the many people”, and that’s now being successfully implemented by Jesper Brodin, CEO of parent company Ingka Group.
It bought TaskRabbit so the many people who love IKEA products, but don’t love assembling them, can have them delivered one day and assembled by an expert the next. It’s leading the mass market in its development of smart home products, and shoppers are enjoying new store formats combining the physical with the digital, as well as its augmented reality app, IKEA Place. (Coke, 2020)
Don’t make a virtual learning culture just an initiative of the present but incorporate it as an initiative for the future. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Covid19 has enforced businesses to embrace a learning culture to pivot and survive in the world of virtual. In order to continue succeeding we need to make the choice to invest and build a life-long learning culture for good.