The Dawn of the Self-Developing Organisation

by | Sep 8, 2015 | Articles

Kevin Young of Skillsoft highlights where talent development is headed, how we need to change L&D delivery and what you can do about it.

In a world where employee engagement is the number one issue keeping business leaders awake at night, today’s employers need to find more effective ways to unlock talent; identify and address skills gaps and resolve any goal misalignments before these impact on business performance. In the face of a much-reported and feared shortfall of essential skilled employees, the pressure to achieve this goal is mounting.


By 2020, it’s predicted there will be an 85 million shortfall of skilled workers. While global organisations will be especially vulnerable to the impending ‘talent drought’, no business is immune to the potential threat posed by the imminent skills gap.

What’s more, organisations face a widening leadership gap as more mature, experienced professionals reduce their presence in the workforce and new millennial workers – with very different workplace expectations to their predecessors – make their presence felt.

The Future of Talent Development

These macro human capital changes threaten to deprive organisations of the skilled talent that’s necessary to perform and compete effectively in the future. This is putting pressure on employers to review how they can cultivate an evergreen source of talent with existing and future employees.

That’s because today’s forward-thinking business leaders view their talent development capabilities as a key competitive advantage and brand differentiator. Of course, they’re looking to L&D and HR professionals to foster a culture of learning innovation and agility that makes it possible to respond to a rapidly evolving workforce that’s complex to manage – and address future and fast-changing business needs.

That means generating hyper-personalised learning paths that put people – talent – at the centre of L&D programmes. Creating an engaging user experience that accelerates talent development and is fully aligned to both personal and organisational goals. Say ‘hello’ to the self-developing organisation.

Utilising Data for Holistic L&D Strategy

The self-developing organisation is one where increased learning adoption drives closer integration with human capital management processes. Achieving this vision means corporate training, informal collaborative learning, elearning, multi-modal content delivery and performance management systems need to operate as a fully integrated, holistic learning strategy, creating a virtuous circle that enables continuous development. This represents the next big step in L&D development.

Over the last decade or so, L&D has evolved rapidly. The ‘webification’ of human capital management, performance management and learning management systems, together with the emergence of multi-modal content and blended learning models have all helped transform the learning landscape. But, until now, learning has typically been bolted on, rather than embedded in, the talent development process.

If L&D is going to meet future organisational needs and make the self-developing organisation a reality, then it’s time to put technology and data to work. This means bridging the current disconnect between business and workforce analytics. Making it possible to adapt learning to the diverse needs of learners at all levels is critical, as is continually correlating and quantifying the business impact of each learning interaction.

Continuous Development and the Personalised Learner Experience

Finding an effective way to put people at the centre of L&D programmes, while ensuring that organisational goals are met is no easy task. As the Bersin by Deloitte High-Impact Learning Organisation 2012 report revealed, fewer than 33% of L&D organisations understand their audiences – their knowledge, skills, career goals, preferences and priorities, and work and business environments. More recent research by Towards Maturity backs this, with only 36% of L&D teams being proactive in understanding how their audience learns what they need to do their job – a stark contrast compared to the Top Deck, 97% of whom are proactive in this area.

This issue of understanding audience behaviour is something that L&D organisations need to surmount in order to boost learner engagement, respond to millennial expectations, and cultivate a learning-centric, self-developing organisation.

The good news is that today’s smart systems offer an opportunity to radically improve how people learn, develop and engage. Creating user-centred learning that addresses the ‘know me, entice me, improve me, reward me’ demands of millennials, delivering feedback, demonstrating recognition of learner needs, and providing opportunities for enhanced innovative collaboration with other learners.

Radically Rethinking L&D Delivery

The self-developing organisation is one where learning experiences can be customised to user preferences, driving next-generation adaptive learning and integrated development.

Making this happen will mean using analytics to measure outcomes, identifying which learning experiences have the greatest impact on business performance. It also means investing in tailored learning and development initiatives that align to an individual’s need and career succession path. Making predictive recommendations in a sequence that makes most sense for individual’s to accomplish their personal and organisational goals.

Ultimately, employees will be continuously supported to improve their performance and achieve their maximum potential, thanks to personalised content-infused processes that allow learning to occur naturally and contextually as part of the daily workflow.

Kevin Young has 15 years’ experience in the IT industry, 12 of which have been in the technology-based training sector. Before joining Skillsoft, Young headed up CBT Systems UK operations, managing a team of more than 40. – Full Bio


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