Accountability, Innovation, Agility and the skills Gap

So yesterday I went to a fantastic presentation from Denise Myerson and the MCI Team including the wonderful Natasha Wright about their recent

trip to the recent SHRM Conference in the US and the themes and trends that came out of it.  The four major themes (see the title of this blog post) were

  1. Accountability
  2. Innovation
  3. Agility
  4. Skills Gap

Now what I found really interesting about the afternoon was the fact that these four issues or challenges if you will resonate quite strongly both personally and organisationally, in particularly agility and the skills gaps.  When I look at the way the landscape has changed over the last few years, in the not-for-profit and government sectors, in Learning and Development and HR and in the business world in general, Accountability and the ability to respond in an Agile manner to the myriad of challenges which face us every day do call for innovative solutions.  The real problem I see is the skills gap, when I look at the health and community services sector, the mining and industry sectors we are all crying out for staff who have the right skills, attributes and behaviours to meet the needs of industry, particularly at entry level positions, and in highly technical areas.

We seem to have a situation at least in my opinion where we have plenty of  people who skills that are not relevant to the needs of industry, who aren’t interested in entry level positions, who are unwilling to do something that is outside of their vocation or to be retrained and we seem to pander to these attitudes.   If we don’t find ways to address the skills gap, if we don’t have people with the right skills and behaviours in the right roles then how can we possibly hope to respond in Accountable, innovative and agile ways to the next challenge that comes along.

Integrating formal and informal learning in an agile organisation

Another short post today. This time a link back to a an article I wrote for the June issue of Training and Development, the journal of the AITD on Integration formal and informal learning and in agile organisation.

Agile Training Development – Lessons from the world of project management

Agile management or agile project management is an iterative method of determining requirements for engineering and information technology development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner that is based on the following tenets:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

There is a lot we can learn from the Agile project management when it comes to the development of training. To often in this industry I think we tend to operate on an alomost waterfall methodology when it comes to developing training. We collect all the requirements from the business (or at least what we think are all the requirements) and then we go away and build a training course or a program, consulting with the business when we need subject matter expertiese. Then when it is all done we take it back to the business and present it and more often than not find that the outcomes the business wanted from the training are not going to be met by what we have developed.

Agile methodology with its very iterative nature gives us the opportuity to not only develop and deliver better training that more fully meets the needs and outcomes of the businesses we work with, but ensures that we dont waste time and resources in developing programs and courses that dont meet business need.
The idea of talking to the business getting an idea of what they want, then going away and over a short period of time namely 1-2 weeks coming up with an initial idea and program and then going back to the business and testing it, getting more requirements, looking at what works and doesnt work, what give us the outcomes we want and what doesn’t appeals to me and is the kind of process we have adopted to a greater or lessor extent in most of the organisations I have worked with. And it seems to work.

Should we therefore be much more iterative in the way we develop training, will a continuing process of “requirements gathering + development + review” repeated until we have the product or program we need give us better training, or will there be additional costs both in terms of the development of the training and the amount of interaction required from the business which may at least in the eyes of the business devalue the process.

I personally think the answer is no! I think improved outcomes provided by developing and deliverying training utilising an Agile Methodology far outweigh any perceived (and I am yet to be convinced it does actually “cost” more to the agile) additional costs assoicated with it.

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