The Get Fit for Tomorrow’s Work + Learn Economy convening brought together 100+ leaders from business, industry, government, and education to focus on developing foresight needed to support the working learner. As the discussion progressed the point returned to several key items: The gig economy is growing and composed of multi-generational groups, the workplace is becoming the space of the augmented worker – people and technology including bots, AI systems, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) tools. The role of employee is transforming from one of knowledge worker to performance worker.
This is a key time to realize the opportunities these changes can provide. No longer do we need to know how to “do” since the directions and processes are stored in the cloud for all to access we can instead move to the reasons why we “do”. Our performance around work creates value and impact for others who need support and guidance that only a person using critical thinking skills can provide. A part of this movement is around the understanding that our organizations and our society is changing too.
There is an interesting correlation between the technology infrastructure we have used and the organization infrastructure we have worked within. Go back to a not so long time ago when our computer and communications tools we used were big, bulky and needed specialized tools to use and stored information in a limited access manner. Our organizational structures were very similar with well define lines of control and access to the data leading to decisions.
Now our technology is becoming seamless in our access and use. Information of all kinds is available stored “in the cloud” ready to provide solutions and experiences. It is at our fingertips and provides every person the ability to query and communicate in normal, ordinary ways. This technology has a different infrastructure design where the information is stored in multiple locations, the access is available in multiple ways, and anyone can make requests and obtain data that allow the user to determine their learning experience. Just as easily as we access directions and recommendations on finding a restaurant we now have access to experts who can provide guidance and support to enable people to perform their tasks and roles better and at the time of need. Our organizational structure are changing too as the data and the ability to make decisions are becoming a part of the network.
As work and our organizations transform so must our learning evolve from designing programs to creating experiences. The mindset of creating and delivering formal training using defined models is becoming more a process of the social network of delivering on-demand solutions using open and easily available resources ranging from user generated content to social platforms like YouTube. Don’t think learning isn’t needed or wanted for as our workforce includes different generations together they all seem to have a common theme best expressed in a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers titled “Millennials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace” that identified the most valuable company benefit was training and development far ahead of flexible hours and cash bonuses.
Work is learning and learning is work and as our technology has become more social our organizations are beginning to reflect these changes too. A phrase I overheard was “we are moving from pipes to platforms” indicating the flow of information is moving from a state of one direction down the pipe to a new state of multiple streams of conversations flowing on a platform filled with people who are performing new tasks in new roles supporting our world community anytime, anywhere. So the question to ask is are you ready to follow your passion, your purpose, and your new role as a performance worker?