Frances van Spijkeren, Europe, Middle East and Africa head of customer success at getAbstract, outlines how a growth mindset and learning culture will be central to excelling in the digital age
Q: Where does learning and development come into digital transformation?
A: The human side of digital transformation is crucial. All change management starts with people and the skills needed to evolve. It’s not just about equipping organisations to deal with digital transformation, but also about taking advantage of the huge opportunities it presents. That’s why companies often involve us in programmes to help fuel a growth mindset and support human learning and skills, so people can embrace digital transformation rather than be frightened or intimidated by it. One major consultancy company we have worked with, for example, built a very strong campaign around equipping their whole organisation for a digital environment. The company realised that not all employees had to become digital experts or specialists, but everyone needed a basic understanding of digital tools to benefit from them. We were able to support this campaign to ensure all employees felt equipped. Developing the necessary soft skills together helped create a universal level of digital competence.
Q: How have organisations with a growth mindset benefited during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown environments they were forced into?
A: Those companies that had invested in learning programmes around digital transformation and growth mindset were better prepared for the sudden shift to remote working in response to the pandemic. They are seeing huge uptake for these programmes now because there is a specific need for them. Organisations that didn’t ramp up their efforts in this area are now racing to develop something quickly. They’re at a disadvantage compared to those that saw the opportunity sooner and will continue to be at a disadvantage until they catch up. This is a long-term shift. A survey we conducted recently found nearly half of employees want to work from home more frequently after offices reopen.
Q: How can companies build the right culture to accelerate digital transformation?
A: In a business landscape increasingly shaped by technology, the way we work is constantly changing. Organisations need to build a culture where they retain all the values that make them unique, while also evolving the business to serve customers in the digital age. Culture has to be ready to change, ready to seize new opportunities and ready to adapt quickly, based on a solid foundation of knowledge and insight. Agility and fast decision-making is so important in this environment, but they’re only possible if you have access to the right information.
Q: What is your advice to business leaders on how they can implement such a set-up?
A: Leadership plays a massive role in organisational culture, by creating a trickle-down effect for change. Culture can start and develop in many places, but ultimately you need a shared understanding and vision within an organisation. Business leaders should be the communication catalysts for how the company views change and embraces a growth mindset. We know the skills that are important in organisations today will not be the skills needed in ten years, possibly even in one year. That means it no longer makes sense to recruit for specific skills. Instead, companies need to find people who have a growth mindset and work with current employees to encourage that mindset. It falls to the leadership, whether that’s top-level executives or mid-level management, to create time and space for employees to develop new skills alongside their day-to-day job and in the flow of work.
Company culture has to be ready to change, ready to seize new opportunities and ready to adapt quickly
Q: What are the topics people are most interested in learning about?
A: Looking at our most-read content, as well as requests from key learning and development professionals, the topics that are really gaining traction are those in the areas of agility and resilience. It’s less about hard management skills and more about what everyone can do to change their own mindset. The trickle-down effect from management is crucial, but it’s not something that can be implemented as a programme. If you have equipped your employees with a growth mindset, they can take charge of their own learning and identify opportunities to develop themselves. Creating a culture in which leaders give employees the trust, responsibility and authority to act on the learning opportunities they identify will create the agility to accelerate their decision-making.
Q: How does getAbstract help organisations to create this kind of culture?
A: To be agile, you need to take decisions quickly. To take quick decisions, you need to understand the issue. You’re never going to be able to have access to everything, but the more information you have to base your decision on, and the faster you can access that information, the quicker you’re going to be able to move forward. getAbstract provides that rapid access to relevant information and insights. With business book summaries you can read in less than ten minutes, you can very quickly gain a solid understanding of the issues that are currently important to you and your business. getAbstract is a tool that powers the growth mindset.
Q: What is the future of learning and its role in enabling successful digital transformation?
A: Given the rapid pace of change, how can an organisation know what the most important topics will be in their future? Rather than trying to anticipate the topics they need their employees to learn about, it’s far more effective for organisations to encourage curiosity and self-discovery. Creating a culture of curiosity will help to equip employees to deal with any challenges in the best possible way. And because digital transformation is ongoing, learning needs to be consistently available to everyone. It is important to recognise that face-to-face learning will continue to play a role. Training courses for high-potential candidates, which require registration six months in advance, should not be the only available option. It’s far more impactful to have learning tools available in the flow of work, in an accessible, easily digestible and immediately applicable format.
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