“GREAT” things are popping up lately like the Great Resignation, Great Retirement, and the Great Reshuffle as two examples. I am not swayed by the hype because these all point to one common denominator – Change…and the need to LEAD it. It is my opinion that we are seeing the side-effects surface in the form of a Great Convergence of Thought and Action and forms influencers that directly impact Culture. In other words, resignations, retirements, and reshuffling within and among organizations are driving the need for a strategic re-think and adopting tactical actions that are agile and responsive to the need of a treasure trove of opportunity…reshaping, upskilling, and reskilling to optimize the workforce at the Point-of-Work. Convergence is happening with us…or without us. What is converging in our world of L&D and how should we manage it? How does it impact Culture?
If you follow my blog, the concept of Point-of-Work has been a subject of many posts and carries an important linkage to the concepts of convergence. I say “concepts” in the plural because there are a number of variables undergoing the impact of convergence directly…or as collateral by-product of convergence. The opportunity for Learning & Development (L&D) therefore has multiple influencers to consider; not the least of which is embracing a strategic re-think. As a result, new innovative solution potentials present as many challenges as viable solutions. This short post will hopefully plant some seeds of thought around a key question – What are the faces of convergence and what do they produce as opportunities to think and act differently?
Learning Culture of Change
An organization’s culture will face a shift as a product of convergence when emphasis requires embracing innovations that impact workflows and often accompanying integration of digital technology. Digital Transformation comes to mind…and unfortunately…with the not-so-good-news that upwards of 80% fail. The technology does not fail…we fail. We fail to accomplish leading transformational change effectively. Unfortunately, we seem to have mastered only the first of four phases of Transformational Change:
- Deployment – We deploy new training. IT deploys new technology. We train for GoLive, cut the ribbon, and move on to the next training project. What we seem to fail at regularly is the second phase…
- Implementation – Implementation happens at a new ground zero of Point-of-Work. That is why assessing the Point-of-Work is less deployment and event focused and more post GoLive implementation and Change insurance focused. And if we fail to implement, we fail to reach critical mass that compromises reaching the third phase…
- Adoption – Adoption represents that time and place where solution utilization is accepted as best practice and regularly and effectively applied by the user population. The final phase is often overlooked as well…
- Sustainability – Have protocols been established and integrated to ensure Change Adoption is not just a temporary flash in the pan? Have we created flexibility and resilience into the Process of Change to endure the dynamics of Change? Are we equipped to keep the Change alive and agile enough to respond to ongoing business fluctuations?
I submit there is a significant phase that should always precede Deployment – DISCOVERY. Without performing that step of completing due diligence we are left with responding to requests of realities that are often different throughout the leadership cascade as we head downward to the workforce’s Points-of-Work. This knowledge is essential for successful Transformational Change.
- Discovery – We too often default to responding to requests without performing due diligence as to what prompted those requests. We should accomplish due diligence specific to answering several pivotal questions:
- What needs to be achieved?
- Why does it need to be achieved? What is a driving business need?
- Who engages at all levels to ensure achievement?
- What are the current states of leadership readiness…workforce readiness…technology readiness…validation readiness…monitoring readiness?
- What are the measurable results we need in order to validate and monitor achievement?
- And most importantly…What are the underlying root cause factors preventing Change from being achieved?
Again, what I am suggesting is the addition of a fifth phase to Transformational Change – Discovery. We must look beyond requests for pursuing Change that are often based on assumptions and hypotheses despite them being well-intended and uncover root causes behind the motivations that drive the request for Change. Prioritization should then follow to ensure we start small and scale. Omitting these steps of Discovery can spell failure to optimize something as complex as Digital Transformation and are at the core of Transformational Change Leadership.
Do these phases impact culture? Absolutely they do because we cannot launch into an extended journey like Digital Transformation as a series of deployments left to flounder after Deployment and neglect the momentum to gain critical mass and strategic thinking to include all subsequent phases of Change. I used Digital Transformation as an example; however, any project of any size should experience all five phases of Change for the sake of consistency of expectations and process workflows.
Is this convergence? Absolutely it is by virtue of a strategic re-think keyed on workforce performance converging with the tactical demands of optimizing workflows throughout all five phases of Change. Embracing a repeatable Change model sets organizational expectations and supports consistent best practice application of Change regardless of size and complexity
Thanks for the pioneering work by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson of APPLY Synergies and their well-known Five Moments of Need, we see a growing acceptance of Workflow Learning. This is a dynamic real-time convergence of learning with work; in fact, the convergence of learning and/or support within live workflows are enabled by leveraging agile design methodology and delivered via digital adoption platform technology solutions. Workflow Learning exemplifies leading Transformational Change because all five phases of Change are addressed from initial Discovery to complete our due diligence – to Deployment of learning and support solutions – to Implementing directly into workflows at Points-of-Work at specific moments of need – to full Adoption via supporting and refining best practice performance – to Sustainability via protocols designed to maintain and adapt agile solution content responsive to changing business conditions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Integration
Recently, the buzz around AI is surfacing frequently. To many AI is a mystery but it comes into better focus when we consider specific applications where it can be used and controlled. Augmentir has done some groundbreaking work in the manufacturing sector with Purpose-Built AI in conjunction with performance pattern recognition within connected worker performance data at Points-of-Work yielding actionable analytics to enable targeted learning to upskill, reskill, and performance support solutions in the workflow.
The targeting is not limited to workflows and/or processes but through the added power of AI, datapoints can be captured within workflows at the step-level AND by individual workers. The level of granularity can produce more data points than humanly possible to analyze and too much data to easily extract patterns that can optimize performance and enable effective upskilling and reskilling within workflows specific to identified workers. This is a convergence of data analytics and purpose-built AI technology.
AI-driven data convergence enables yet another collateral convergence of informed learning and support design from multi-datapoint granularity of worker performance results at Point-of-Work. What L&D team would not want to know who needs help…when and where in the workflow they need it…visibility to investigate why they need it…and what the solution or refinement should be?
This is an exciting time to be in the L&D discipline. I believe the call to action has become a business imperative by the many faces of convergence; most prominent being urgent demand to be responsive to business risk converging with the demand for optimizing agile, measurable, and sustainable workforce performance at the Point-of-Works. This business convergence is driving the need for performance consulting disciplines to converge with the operational stakeholder population with the capability to Assess Performance at Point-of-Work and serve as liaison (still more convergence) with L&D design, development, and delivery capabilities as well as with other functional resources like HR-OD, Process Improvement disciplines like Lean Six Sigma, and IT technology resources.
What are your thoughts? Always open to chat and dig deeper if the need arises.
Take good care!