How to Stay on Top in Today’s Skills Shift

Written by Johanna Lindberg-Bert

Head of sales
Published on 18-04-2019

We all agree that in today’s fast-moving and continuously changing environment, continuous skills development is more than a key to success. It’s a matter of stay ahead or fade away.

What are the key skills for the future?

How do we create the right environment to unleash collective intelligence?

Traditional “management” jobs are rapidly being automated. With this acceleration of digital transformation in mind, lifelong learning and up-skilling is a must. Especially, when 80% of employees do not have the skills they need for their current and future jobs.
Gartner, 2018

Most in demand skills of tomorrow

Critical Thinking, Entrepreneurship, Adaptability and Creativity are part of the top priority skills of today and in the future.

For example in a recent panel discussion, the Head of Talent & Leadership IKEA Southeast Asia spoke about two of IKEA’s core values: ‘Daring to be different’ and ‘Constant desire for renewal’. The employees are asked to constantly challenge the status-quo. “Why this? How can we do this better?” Furthermore, they are expected to be willing to change. For many companies the key differenciators in the future will be to ‘think out of the box’ and find new innovative solutions to problems. This will require the employees to be empowered to finding new ways. To take risks and to learn to say no. This also means, not to get stuck in their comfort zone.

Why adaptability and how?

To respond quickly to change, it is all about developing a collaborative and agile mind-set. Cross-functional and team-based work is essential to create an environment for innovation. Smaller agile squads managed as independent start-ups inside the organisations, will emerge more and more. The business will use project-based spin-offs where ideas and expertise come together to create incredible projects.
This is crucial not only for a more cost-effective talent management but more importantly to be able to tap on niche expertise. Research identifies it as a main differentiator and key success factor. The use of independent service providers, freelancer and subject matter experts should help in creating the necessary agile mind-set. Connecting with people outside of the “normal” sphere will boost creativity.
In the McKinsey survey “How digital reinventors are pulling away from the pack” of more than 2,500 people across company sizes, functional specialties, industries, regions, and tenures, 37% of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations. Furthermore, 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations.

Spotify’s Squads, Tribes, Chapters and Guilds

One great example of a flexible organizational structure is the Swedish audio streaming platform Spotify. With its over 1,600 employees, Spotify uses an agile scaling method with Squads, Tribes, Chapters and Guilds.

Squad: A squad is the smallest group of people (<8 members) who are responsible for one key area. They are empowered with immediate decision-making.

Tribe: Tribes are squads working on similar tasks with less than 100 persons. Members of Squads are experts in their areas.

Chapter: Those with the same responsibility in separate Squads are gathered in a Chapter. The Chapter is headed by a Line Manager. Everyone is a member of both a Squad and Chapter.

Guild: Finally, a Guild is an informal structure where anyone can join. Members join based on interest like you would participate in a community to share knowledge.

The Management Role

So how does Spotify manage this agile organization? What role does the Management play? How can you boost co-worker commitment in an agile organization?
By focussing more on trust than control. In other words, accepting failures as a step to progress. Management 3.0 indicates the direction to enable action and provide autonomy for teams to make changes when needed.
The Management role is to mentor, guide and facilitate collaboration. Individuals will move among teams and projects. Self-management practice and accountability shapes the flexible organisational structure.
One of the main challenges for the leaders in agile organizations is to walk the fine line of empowering while giving the directions. To promote independence while at the same time guaranteeing alignment with strategic priorities for the organization and retaining accountability.

Coaching Culture

Timeo-Performance hosted recently the ‘Think and Drink’  event “A dive in the Silicon Valley; unveiling the DNA of Leadership at the world’s most admired companies” with Global Executive Coach Jean-Francois Cousin. He explored which kind of leadership organizations need to thrive in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world. The answer is that leaders must nurture the collaboration and agility that unleash collective intelligence. To develop agile and collaborative leaders, ‘most admired’ Companies have integrated Coaching in their Leadership-DNA and a Coaching Culture in their organization.

When bringing coaching into the Leadership style, a high level of empathy is required on top of these finely tuned interpersonal, social skills. The study from McKinsey “Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce” (May 2018) shows that the demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing, will grow through 2030, by 19 percent in the United States and by 14 percent in Europe.

What are the new technologies that will help us?

Asia Pacific is a particularly exciting region for organisations bringing AI into their operations and business models. However, a recent report by Cognizant ‘Humans + Intelligent Machines: Mastering the Future of Work in Asia Pacific”* shows that just over 1/3 of the organizations feel fully prepared to handle future work. The top three challenges facing companies today are the misalignment of workforce strategy with business goals (72%), lack of IT infrastructure readiness (71%), and a shortage of required talent and knowledge (70%). All companies, big or small, have to focus on continuously train and upskill their workforce to prepare for the future.
 (*based on insights and opinions of 622 senior executives from China, India, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong)

4 Key Factors for Skill Success

1. Offering ATAWADAC training solution
2. Engaging, fun, personalized and gamified learning experience
3. Improving by the systemic measuring of skills development

4. Connecting with the entire workplace ecosystem

1. Yet, to train effectively today’s workforce in a VUCA world, learning design and delivery has to be easy and ATAWADAC (AnyTime, AnyWhere, AnyDevice, AnyContent). The idea is to take away any type of friction that could stop your learners accessing and completing your learning program.
2. Furthermore. the training has to be fun, collaborative and personalised to be engaging and effective. Customisable Digital Learning solutions are a cost-effective way to support reinforced training on a large scale with blended (combining Face-to-face and Digital) programmes or ready-to-deploy digital training paths. In addition, introducing relevant micro-learning (short 1-2 minutes videos) helps to maintain the learning in the flow of work and ensure learning retention.
3. The organization needs to set up efficient measurement to monitor and adjust the progress at each step of the learning journey, selecting the right Learning experience at the right moment for each individual.
4. Last, but not least, collaborative learning channels via digital learning platforms are great assets to build connected learners. Individuals must take responsibility of their own learning and effective lifelong learning is about exposure; to micro-learning and blogs, to books, to network and the right people.

Innovative and personalised digital training solutions

As CrossKnowledge‘s strategic partner, we thrive to support our clients to stay on top in today’s skills shift with our innovative digital training solutions in an engaging and personalised learning experience.

And stay tuned, a lot of exciting learning technologies are on their way! Josh Bersin is a world-renowned industry analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research-based membership programs in HR, talent and learning. He presents new technologies and its impact on the Learning & Development. He clearly states that now is the time for experimentation, finding the right tools and technologies for your organisation.

Is this enough?

However, selecting the best technology and content is not enough to stay on top of today’s skills shift. The Collaborative and Agile Organisations first need to establish the right Learning Culture. To succeed with continuous skills development there has to be an environment where people are helping each other, where employees dare to take risks and learn from their mistakes. A culture where all members of the organisation become Learning Enablers.



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Johanna Lindberg-Bert
Johanna is Head of sales for Timeo-Performance's learning & development and consulting services including Akteos Asia and CrossKnowledge. She has more than 20 years experience in supporting companies to develop their business internationally and succeed with commercial strategy, management of their HR performance and cross-cultural management.

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