Posted on

February 11, 2019

Deja Vu times! Reminds me of the IT era, pre Agile!

Throughout the 80s and 90s, IT’s slow pace was always an enigma for the business folks. Business couldn’t comprehend why getting anything done on the It side took so much time and as tech became more and more important, something had to be done to make it more nimble. Not sure, if lessons were drawn from how the other “Enigma” code was cracked during World War II, but something similar happened. Heightened attention, rigorous analysis & critical thinking and not taking “NO" for an answer, resulted in the inevitable – time to production cut down significantly!

When the "iterative" process shaved off months from the classic waterfall SDLC, the common wisdom was that things couldn’t get better than this! Agile raised its head with "Extreme Programming” but mostly stayed in the fringes! And then, Scrum changed everything…

L&D is at a similar stage. The VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain. Complex and Ambiguous) world requires organizations (and in turn employees) to be able to improvise in real time. Survival and growth imply that the “Learn – Unlearn - Relearn” cycle has to become shorter and shorter! Organizations can’t afford long implementation cycles as the “context” for which the learning was required itself may change, thereby, jeopardising the ROI for the initiative! Besides, the reducing attention span of the Digital natives and the Millennials is witnessing an inverse “Moore’s Law”! All this necessitates changes in the learner as well as the learning provider ecosystem:

An “Agile” approach similar to what has been practiced on the IT side has answers to most of the challenges faced by L&D. L&D departments should consider adopting the same in dear earnest! Both, the Demand” and the “Supply” side need to be addressed:

Digital is making things much easier as boundaries of location, space and time are getting blurred. This needs to be leveraged to the fullest. If the “Digital/Automation Maturity” of your organization is on the lower side, then you may want to explore “Outsourcing” the non core functions like Content Production & Maintenance, Testing, porting from one platform to another etc. This will give you enough of a breather as you transition to an Agile L&D organization! Offshoring ( using different time zones) can provide another booster shot by using extended work days, thereby reducing the cycle time and ensuring safer outcomes! May not be agile in the real sense of the term, but could be a strong crutch to lean on as you transition into the new world!

While the picture that I have painted is quite hunky dory, let me leave you with a caveat - Agility in the L&D organization is a necessary but insufficient condition for an organization to realize the true benefits of Agility. For best outcomes, the entire organization i.e. all departments need to be agile, else the weakest link in the chain will determine the strength of the chain!

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