Learn or Die with Learning Science

There is a technology tidal wave on its way and it is going to hit organizations with massive disruptive force. If organizations want to survive, they need to use learning science.

Author and professor Edward D. Hess has stated that organizations of the future will either “learn or die.”

This dramatic statement is the title of his new research-based book on organizational learning. He believes that close to 70% of all American jobs will be displaced by technology in the next 20 years. If technology is going to replace that many workers what can/should HR do to address this issue?

HR needs to help employees develop new skills that technology will not be able to replicate or render obsolete. Dr. Hess believes the following skill sets will stand the test of time:

  • High level critical thinking
  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • High emotional engagement with others

The problem is our current learning strategies may not be sufficient to truly develop or enhance these skills.

Humans are naturally defensive learners and organizations tend to embody the characteristics of the individuals that comprise them. Organizations are their own worst enemies when it comes to learning; they need to develop new learning strategies. Dr. Hess claims that learning better and faster than the competition is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage.

Click here to watch a short video clip introducing Dr. Hess’ ideas.

So, what will be the purpose of HR in the future, when 70% of the jobs we know today don’t exist? Perhaps it will be to make humans better learners and thinkers.

Discussion Questions:

After watching the video clip, what role do you see HR playing in training the workplace of the future?

Once you determine the future direction of HR, create a 3-minute presentation to convince your VP of HR that this new direction is the way to go if your HR department and organization are to survive.

What Do You Need to Succeed?


Needs Assessment: A Review

An organization’s training and development program is only as good as its needs assessment.

Here is a great comprehensive review of the needs assessment process and how important it is to successful employee training. It is so important to have successful employee training outcomes.

Karla Gutierrez from Shift–Disruptive Elearning sums up what can go wrong when an organization does not do a proper needs assessment.

Click here to read a summary

We teach:

  • the right people the wrong things
  • the right things to the wrong people
  • the right skills the wrong way

The best way to avoid the above is an upfront needs assessment. All organizations and HR departments usually need a refresher on a proper needs assessment to avoid the negative outcomes of not doing one.

Click here to see a PowerPoint overview of a proper needs assessment.

Discussion Questions

  1. After reviewing the eight steps of a needs assessment process, pick two that you feel are easy to accomplish and pick two that you feel are harder to accomplish. Once chosen explain your reasoning and defend your arguments with examples.
  2. Explain why training and development need assessments are important and why so many organizations fail to conduct proper ones.

Talent Champion

Who to develop?

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.
Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

The psychological contract of a lifetime of work with one employer is long gone. In our globalized workplace it was replaced with the concept of developing oneself in the workplace.

According to Daphne Woolf, many senior leaders are not as good at developing talent in others as they think they are or as they should be. Her video illustrates the concepts of “Talent Champion who understand that they are responsible for developing others more than developing themselves and if they don’t have this skill set it can be developed.

Many successful senior leaders obtained their position by being operational experts in their industry, not necessarily talent experts. But when they reach that senior level they must be both an operational expert and a talent champion.

Click here to watch a video with Daphne Wolf

Daphne Wolf believes a Talent Champion can be developed by doing the following:

  • Assessing the senior executive strengths in developing others.
  • Embed the concept in the senior executive that developing others is a fundamental responsibility of their role.
  • Give them the skills and strategies on how to mentor others.

Developing Talent Champions within an organization needs to become a proactive activity not just a passive activity. This can only happen if the senior executive is naturally affiliated to develop others. HR departments need to take a leadership role in ensuring that the coaching and mentoring of others is a core competency of all senior executives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research to see if you can find a simple but effective mentoring-others self-assessment tool.
  2. Once you have found a tool use it to measure yourself on your ability to mentor others. Where are your strengths and where are your areas of improvement?
  3. Review some senior executive’s job description. Determine if they have ‘developing others’ as part of their job description. If so, identify some common terminology.

Mentoring for Mutual Gains

Two heads graphic
Source: igor kisselev/Shutterstock

What does it take to be a mentor in this generation-defined age of boomers, gen-xes, gen-ys, and millennials?  Typically, we hear of the gaps that exist from one generation’s understanding of the next.  These gaps are often created by negative perceptions of each other, resulting in a premise that the younger generation must adapt and learn from their elders. From this, we end up with traditional mentoring models that have a one-sided mentor-mentee flow. There is heavy emphasis on the mentee being on the receiving end of that flow as sage wisdom pours down from the more experienced and mature mentor.

The traditional mentoring model has definite benefits.  However, it does not have to be a one-way learning or training relationship.  A recent article from Forbes.com offers an expansion of the mentor-mentee relationship that includes mutual benefits to both parties.

Click Here to Read the Article.

This article identifies the modern mentor as one who is willing to step up and participate in the mentor-mentee relationship as an exchange.  Through active participation the modern mentor should be able to change that one-way flow to a two-way transfer of ideas, new learnings, and growth that provide mutual benefits to both parties in the mentoring relationship.   When we change the direction of the flow to a two-way exchange there is clear evidence that both parties will benefit, their respective generation will benefit, and the organization will benefit as a whole.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What learning, skills, and experience would you bring to a mentor-mentee relationship if you were the mentor?
  2. What benefits would you bring to a mentor-mentee relationship if you were the mentee?
  3. What perceptions do you have of the baby boomer generation?
  4. How do you think you are perceived as a member of a particular generation based group? Do you agree with this perception?

Education, Skills and Experience – Willing to Relocate?

Maybe Not!

Source: Slavoljub Pantelic/Shutterstock
Source: Slavoljub Pantelic/Shutterstock

It seems to be a ridiculous notion, that, by having to move from one location to another, one might become less valuable in the economic marketplace.  This concept becomes even more ridiculous when considering the level of highly competent individuals who have worked diligently to earn formal professional credentials and carry with them years of professional training, expertise, and experience.  Yet, when these highly competent and trained individuals move from their home location to a new part of Canada, this is exactly what happens.

A recent report, Brain Gain 2015: The State of Canada’s Learning Recognition System issued by the Conference Board of Canada focuses on this issue.

Click Here to Read the Full Report

Click Here to Read a Summary Article

As noted in this article, Canadian workers stand to gain billions of dollars in economic gains should provinces recognize formal accreditation, training, and standards acquired from different places around the world.  When Canadian workers gain economically, there is a direct connection to the Canadian economy gaining as a whole.  However, this seems to be an untapped area of possibilities and opportunities.

This lack of recognition of credentials and learned expertise is not a new concept.  We see, hear, and read numerous accounts about the loss of employment credentials particularly focused on internationally trained immigrants coming to Canada.  There are numerous stories of dedicated and trained professionals landing in Canada who end up taking employment opportunities well below their career capacities.

What is not often highlighted, however, is the notion of province to province employment migration resulting in a similarly significant potential loss of credential recognition.

As Human Resources professionals, we too must face this challenge.  For those of us practicing in Ontario, we are able to earn credentials through the Human Resources Professionals Association resulting in one of three Canadian designations; CHRP, CHRL or CHRE.  Other provinces have their own credentialing bodies or professional association requirements.

It would certainly be a shame to lose the credibility of these earned credentials if one moved from Ontario to another province or vice versa.  Should fully trained, competent Human Resources professionals with years of experience, knowledge, expertise, and credentials expect to lose economically when transferring from one province to another?

There does not seem to be any benefit from this potential loss to anyone. The gains, on the other hand, from recognizing what has been legitimately earned seem to be significant.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Would you move to another location/country for work purposes if you knew your earned credentials or learned experience would not be recognized?
  2. How would provincial economies benefit from recognizing external credentials?
  3. Why do you think out of province and/or out of country credentials are not recognized?
  4. What is the value of learned experience from your perspective?
  5. Would you rather get advice from an HR professional who has ‘education’ credentials and ‘minimal’ experience or from an HR Professional who has years of experience and ‘minimal’ credentials?