Are we facing a looming crisis in employee competence?


thinkingIn the midst of all the euphoric discourse about how new forms of digital technologies are able to disrupt established industries, a most foundational trait commonly shared amongst these stated examples almost always gets lost:

The best disrupters of our time today do not follow an established playbook. 

Almost every industry is being disrupted around us from automotive to transportation to logistics to hospitality with new digital-first paradigms. Sometimes, it’s because of more efficient cost models. In other cases, digital technologies re-arrange who controls the demand chain. Regardless, the most foundational of industries are being re-casted right in front of our eyes

Every single one of these disruptors is putting the customer experience at the center of the design process and constantly tweaking the business model and adjusting demand and supply chains based on live usage data, everyday.

Successfully creating these new business models comes from NOT having decades of experience in “how it’s always been done”.  In fact, the disruption we see is a consequence of constantly fiddling with the dials to continuously improve, on the fly.

Knowledge may be power but agility is far more powerful.

We set out to think about how we could make learning, training and employee development more relevant to today’s challenges and opportunities and we placed organizational agility as the core design ethos. Agility in how fast employees and teams can spot trends, adapt to market conditions and new customer behavior, and develop new ways of serving customers. Agility is the new standard for employee competency.

We learned that if our customers are to compete in todays dynamic environment, they need to move from a fixed mindset to what psychologist Carol Dweck astutely characterizes as a “growth mindset”:

“People who have a  fixed mindset believe that intelligence and talents are largely a matter of genetics; you either have them or you don’t. They aim to appear smart at all costs and see failure as something to be avoided, fearing it will make them seem incompetent. A fixed mindset limits the ability to learn because it makes individuals focus too much on performing well.

By contrast, people who have a  growth mindset seek challenges and learning opportunities. They believe that no matter how good you are, you can always get better through effort and practice. They don’t see failure as a sign of inadequacy and are happy to take risks.”

Helping you instill a culture of continuous learning  

To help customers address this, we’re excited to announce an important milestone in our evolution: following a year-long customer co-innovation process and observing patterns across our 21 million subscriber base over 4 years, SAP SuccessFactors has made another significant leap forward in the area of organizational learning and employee development.  Take a look:

This new solution is designed specifically to give customers incredible speed and agility in how they identify and capitalize on changing market conditions, by fostering a growth mindset.

Get your best brains to wrap around every problem: Enabling employees and other stakeholders to quickly form peer to peer learning networks so that your organization can easily capitalize on individual employee experiences.

Stretch the value and relevance of your courses: Infusing employee engagement into structured course-based learning and vice versa, to super charge theoretical instruction with practical experiences.

Improve talent and leadership development: Scale mentoring and development programs very quickly with expert identification, plan creation, task assignments and progress tracking.

Elevate remote workers to first class status: The best ideas come form those who work closely with customers. You now have the ability to record and leverage bite-sized how-to learning videos from the retail shop or a factory floor or in a field service situation.

In the past, addressing more agile ways of learning was a nice-to-have. But now, we truly believe that every one of our customers has the opportunity to lead the transformation of their own industry. And to do so, a growth mindset and therefore a continuous learning culture are most certainly must-haves.

This looming crisis in competence is not of the employees making. Rather, market dynamics are demanding a big change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. And so employers owe it to their employees and to their shareholders to create an environment that allows their brightest to compete effectively.

The topic of learning is now on the C-Suite and Board agenda and SAP SuccessFactors is privileged to now offer the most comprehensive learning solution in the industry. And we’re thrilled to see that many of our customers have already begun to embrace this change.

Welcome to continuous learning.

Here is the press release and a write up by Ron Miller on TechCrunch.

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.@skemsley thanks. im so convinced about the need for competence to be elevated to the same level as prior knowledge.


@SameerPatel too true! although I hired skills/training, I placed the most emphasis on the ability to continuously learn


@skemsley I linked to an article on growth vs fixed mindset in my post. That distinction has truly helped me organize my thinking and action

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