'In this week's webinar Al and Steve discuss the role of skills development in the successful delivery of transformational road-map.
Al talks about his own eclectic learning journey that incorporated further, higher, mature, online learning and everything in between.
Having experienced the full spectrum of learning pedagogy's, Al suggests that the most important aspect of up-skilling is to find a learning approach that works for your circumstances and your preferred style of learning.
Whatever the approach it's important to implement that learning in the real world and turn the skills you learned into knowledge. Most crucial, however, is developing the mindset of a life long learner and being cognitive that through this 4th wave of industrialisation, even those considered to be experts' in their fields will require continuous learning throughout their careers to maintain their depth of knowledge on a subject.
This isn't new of course, plenty of professions require continuous up-skilling, nursing being one of them. However, the rate of technological advancement is at a pace previously unseen, and it is now incumbent on individuals as well as businesses to prepare for this change if they hope to benefit in the future. Ultimately, getting started is the most important part. You won't really know what you don't know until you start.
Steve and Al talk about World Economic Forum predictions, which suggests that 65% of jobs in the next decade currently don't exist and asks, do we know what the key skills for the future look like?
While 'coding' could be a valuable skill to drive your kids towards, in our future driven by automation and AI. Coding is also something that computers with the help of AI, will get better at themselves and the real 'future skills' lie in your adaptability and other 'soft' or rather 'fundamental skill' attainment.
Our training programmes are built on a foundation of industry need and the resounding response from 'industry' is that job skills can be taught but they can't teach the fundamental skills and this message from industry mirrors the finding by the WEF. Soft skills are no longer an accurate name for this collection of interpersonal skills and these skills are now considered a fundamental requirement.
Watch the rest of this discussion were we ask:
What are the key skills required for future-proofing?
What is the best way to support skills development?
Within digital evolution projects, do the IT team lead or support? This issue (not surprisingly) comes up a lot. However, given the core driver for all these conversations are around people, their employees, clients, stakeholders etc, the process is ultimately a people-first approach rather than technology first. IT (of course) has its place at the table as evolution programmes are discussed and planned, due to their inherent knowledge about the business and current systems therein. IT departments understand how these systems currently work and how they can be developed and used to greater effect. Digital evolution projects run parallel with BAU activities and the BAU environment is a core part of that evolution discussion, as it is ultimately about improving on what you currently do.
IT departments hold a lot of knowledge and insights which should be included in transformation programme discussions, however, it is important to remember that IT departments will also have developed their own departmental road-maps surrounding their department's offering within the business and technology infrastructure. They may bring with them a technology first bias. While Steve suggests that there are opportunities to merge evolution projects (IT and the rest of the business), the imperative should always be to address the organisation and end-consumer needs.
Great transformation programmes require a partnership mindset, with input from across the business with sales and marketing often being the custodians of road-map, as they tend to own those client relationships and understand the pain points and opportunities. When asked about what makes the ideal mix of departmental disciplines, Steve suggests that from an organisational perspective, we need to break down the silo thinking within and that the three C's, (Culture, Collaboration and Coalition) are central to the success of digital evolution project development and the delivery of a truly, transformational road-map.
Watch the rest of this discussion below:
Top 3 tips when preparing for a digital transformation programme and why it's not always about new technology.
In this week's 3@3, Al and Steve discuss the things individuals and organisations should consider before embarking on a transformation programme.
Al kicks off with a hotly debated question in our sector, the definition of 'Digital'.
What does digital mean to your business?
The answer to this question is usually...it depends.
Steve stresses that the best way to tackle this deceptively tricky question is to first assess your organisation's digital purpose. Steve uses an example of a community trust organisation, where a client board or senior stakeholders defined the brief surrounding the DT programme, they believed that the organisation should be using the latest technology in the most advanced way to deliver the most compelling service for their clients.
However, when they drilled down further, to understand the requirements better, the board's assertions didn't come from within the organisation, but rather from their perception of how their competition used tech. By bringing the conversation emphasis back to the digital purpose, it was clear the organisational objectives could be fulfilled using their existing technology stack to its full effect.
Steve argues that rather than fancy apps and hardware, often the DT spend needs to start on more housekeeping activities or tech such as CRM systems (customer relationship management) and without proper setup and implementation of the more un-glamorous elements of business as usual activities, enhanced DT (addition of new technologies) can not progress and that the purpose should dictate the direction of the DT activities, more than any brief. And that by defining digital purpose, you can be clearer on how to drive value and interactions with your customers.
Al talks about market noise and the knee jerk reaction by some boards that see new or emerging 'shiny' technologies as the answer to transformation programmes. And states while aspirational technology is important and has a place in a DT roadmap, if it's not adding value then it probably shouldn't be looked at in the initial part of the change programme.
Al talks about the importance of visioning techniques when defining digital aspirations and the importance of shifting mindsets.
Al talks about where skills requirement training comes into the DT journey and suggests that mindset is key here (citing Carol Dweck's book Mindset). Businesses need a mix of fixed and growth mindset to get things done now but also to adapt to the future. He talks about the importance of bringing the fixed mindset employee with you to strip away worry and re-frame the new as an opportunity for the business and individuals alike.
They discuss the false notion that Digital Transformation automatically means a people are going to lose jobs and everything is going to be automated. And goes into detail how you might combat that fear, using real-world examples.
Jo kicked off the discussion, talking about the importance of senior management commitment to successful change programmes and with it, the need for a certain mindset that embraces mistakes and failures. Allowing individuals to fail while embracing the opportunities and insights, that those failures create, is paramount in helping organisations pivot into something ultimately more successful than what they planned for.
Jo talks about why the F word...failure, is not a dirty word and why, 'Failing fast but learning quickly', should be the mantra for all transformation programs.
We discuss why the method for managing the roll-out of organisational change, and the right change management tools, is so important. Agile working with self-organising teams, help the organisation manage the ensuing chaos in a way that waterfall methodology could never hope to.
The iterative nature of the Agile method and Agile skills generally, embeds 'learning from failure' from the outset. However, the cultural shift required to manage change does not come from the bottom-up and leaders can't underestimate the value of being comfortable with the uncomfortable.
On the question of what does a successful change programme look like and how do you deliver aggressive change programmes without being or becoming aggressive yourself, Jo suggests that from the outset, it is important to bring your employees with you, be clear on the purpose and vision for the change and be clear on the roles that individuals have to play in the project and the company culture post project.
By engaging hearts and minds from the outset during the pre-project stage or what the Lewin's change management model calls, the 'Unfreeze stage', organisations can greatly improve the efficacy of the programme and help pave the way for cultural change post project.
Skills & Learning - In conversation with Steve Plummer
Over the the past 2-3 years This is Milk has become heavily involved in the world of upskilling & reskilling, with the creation of an award winning training programme, multiple client run training programmes (conducted around the world), and an in-depth research project looking at international best practice to direct Scottish Government in ongoing activities.
It has been a journey born from our want and desire as a business to solve problems, initially to tackle the issue of the digital skills gap in Scotland, swifty moving on and thinking larger to see us traveling the world and growing a community of experts that both advises and drives everything we do. One of these experts is local business transformation expert, Steve Plummer, who since meeting not much longer than 2 years ago, is now not just one of our trusted trainers, mentors and consultants, but a member of the This is Milk family.
Managing Consutant, This is Milk