People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 50
emergence of new technology has made competencies like
risk-taking and tolerance for ambiguity critical, too. The rise
of a software development influenced leadership to become
more iterative with shorter decision-making cycles, which
have compressed strategic planning periods from spanning
years to today spanning only quarters.
Similar to the impact of agile, an emerging framework for
application development in the IoP may tell us the competencies both HR and leaders will need to stay apace with
change and succeed in this new world:
* Be social.
* Be personalized.
* Be proactive.
* Be predictable.
* Be porous.
If the IoP is social, HR and our leaders must be, too. The
way we can do that is by designing learning solutions that
leverage social networks and connect our people so they can
support and elevate each other.
We get to model what it means to be
porous. We get to initiate dialogue,
take chances, and experiment with
new ways of working.
The self-paced eLearning of the 1990s and early 2000s
may have been great for delivering compliance training to
all employees and teaching users software applications, but it
lacked any social aspect. The IoP connects us in an unprecedented way and our learning solutions should, too. If we
give up the expectation that training must be delivered by
or at least created by ordained "experts", then we can open
up learning networks to what my friends on Facebook call
the "hive mind". Encouraging employees to source solutions
from their networks will drive collaboration and innovation.
Let's face it, our Millennial employees are probably doing
this already, but without safeguards on the systems and tools
they are using.
The expectations of employees are identical to those of application users. The experience must be tailored to unique
individual needs and preferences. That means the job, the
coaching, and the people who lead should be focused on
each employee's individual needs too.
On a side note, Millennials often get a bad reputation
for expecting everything to be tailored to their needs
with other generations saying things like, "We never got
that, so why should they?" Just because our generation
got treated as if one size fits all, does not mean we should
resist rising to the Millennial challenge of personalizing
everything from training programs to work hours to ben50
PEOPLE + STRATEGY
efits packages. Instead we should take on the challenge
of delivering individualized solutions and enjoy the spoils
of the effort. The IoP is not the Internet of person-the
fictional one-size-fits-all person-it is the Internet of people-vast, diverse, unique, individual people.
Learning professionals have long imagined individualizing training and delivering content to employees in the
modality that best suits each individual. Some LMSs are
able to record user preferences to receive training in one
format over another, but learners had to take the time to
update their profiles and many never did. Now, thanks
to the information being collected about users on their
mobile devices, the vision of delivering the preferred
modality could become reality. For example, your phone
knows that you are more likely to read a print article than
to watch a video on a news app. This data point about
preference for receiving information in writing could be
used to suggest (or even deliver) a written job aid instead
of an instructional video when a request for information
from a company's learning or content management system is made.
Using data about employees could customize their
experience in ways they appreciate, which would enhance
their learning and increase their loyalty to your organization. It could also have significant legal consequences
depending on where they live or work. Let's hold that
thought and come back to it momentarily.
Human resources and leadership must embrace the
changes the IoP is bringing. Historically, HR and learning and development have been more reactive than proactive in most areas, including how we use data, especially
the personnel data we store in our HRIS systems. Most of
our focus has been on ensuring security and compliance,
which has often made us slow to adopt new technology
models. For example, I worked at a Fortune 500 company
that resisted moving to a cloud-based HRIS and LMS out
of concern that the technology hadn't yet been proven
safe. We were not willing to risk putting people's social
security numbers, salary information, and performance
ratings in the cloud outside our firewalls.
This conservative approach kept the company locked
in an antiquated server-based system that cost us millions
to maintain and had been so customized we could no
longer enjoy the upgrades the software manufacturer was
making. As a result, our employees suffered from a lack
of access to the latest tools, and our L&D team spent time
fixing bugs in old software instead of delivering learning
solutions that moved the needle for our business.
Now, with the vast amount of data the IoT and the
IoP gather about our people and businesses, we have to
expand our thinking around what is possible. We still
need to ask the questions, "Are we at liberty to use the
data we are collecting? And are we keeping it safe?" But
unless the answer is a resounding "No," HR and learning
and development should take risks and experiment with