Investing in a New Corporate and Learning Culture
Berlin (GER), January 2022 - The Lufthansa Innovation Hub’s focus is imparting skills and knowledge in the areas of innovation management, digital product and service development, and team and leadership training using cutting-edge working methods. The target groups are both managers and employees, and individual programs are developed for each. Florian Brückner will speak at the LEARNTEC Congress on 31 May 2022, at 12:15.
Florian Brückner, the Innovation Hub’s Director of Transformation, explains, "In addition to pure methodological knowledge, we talk more about the prerequisites for a truly innovative organization and deal with topics such as corporate culture, leadership, and organizational design - in particular at the executive level. We concentrate on individually developed learning products and formats. We don't have a standard training catalog that includes, for example, classes on Agility or Design Thinking, or technical or tool-related training courses."
What contributes to making a learning ecosystem future proof?
Florian Brückner: Our practical experience has shown there are several factors that make a learning ecosystem sustainable and relevant, and therefore future proof:
- Focus and added value - A learning ecosystem’s focus should be clear, for example through its content, and the various learning formats and channels should be clearly differentiated. In a world in which we are flooded with information, clear and simple messages are essential for learners so they can immediately recognize the added value and easily navigate the ecosystem.
- Active management - A future-proof learning ecosystem requires active and uninterrupted management of the various learning formats and communities of learners. Open, collaborative learning programs in particular need a lot of mentoring to encourage exchange, something often underestimated at the outset. Without it, though, creating a lively ecosystem is difficult.
- User Experience - A learning ecosystem must provide a positive user experience for the learners. Nowadays, technologies from Apple, Google, Netflix, and co. are in our hands on a daily basis. This influences our expectations as users of learning technologies in the professional context as well. The technology that underlies the learning ecosystem must be straightforward and intuitive, as individualized as possible, and - ideally - integrated into the regular systems of our work.
- Experience based learning - A future-proof learning ecosystem must offer opportunities for experience based learning. For example, the formats have to allow learners to work collaboratively on their own or relevant business issues in order to foster exchange and the learning ecosystem’s relevance.
- Scalability and democratization - Besides the learning formats and channels offered, a learning ecosystem lives from internal exchange. This makes open and democratized access without restrictions relevant; furthermore, the learning ecosystem requires an adequate size in order to foster this exchange.
- Stimulus for culture change - Learning in a collaborative ecosystem also necessitates a different type of learning culture. In my opinion, the learning ecosystem’s becoming future proof is also ultimately determined by the creation of incentives within it that result in cultural change towards more openness, exchange, acceptance of mistakes, and reduction in hierarchical thinking.
How does a learning process based on such a system differ from what we’re familiar with and do today?
Florian Brückner: In future learning ecosystems, the learning process will be determined by the learners, who will have greater personal responsibility. To achieve this, they have to be provided with the skills required to understand which learning goals and content are relevant to them. Then, they must be offered appropriate program choices from which they can put together individually tailored personal programs of their own.
I would say that the ecosystem approach frequently does not present a self-contained curriculum, but rather an array of various courses. The different formats contribute to creating differing impressions and experiences, and the links among the diverse contents provide the added value. In a world in which continuous learning holds unprecedented importance, one learning process transitions into the next; the action is never complete. This, however, makes it more difficult to track learning progress and to compare the competencies acquired, as these are much more individualized.
What prerequisites do companies have to put in place to make a learning ecosystem of the type described worthwhile to establish and use?
Florian Brückner: Companies undoubtedly have to invest to bring about the prerequisites for a holistic learning ecosystem. This means an investment in both the necessary infrastructure and resources; however, it is simultaneously an investment in a new learning culture - a new corporate leaning culture.
In terms of corporate culture, there must be consolidation of an appetite for networked learning and removal of barriers to novel learning formats and collaborative learning. This encompasses promotion of the requisite psychological security in regard to learning formats in which people learn through mutual exchange.
"Error culture" is a significant keyword here. In this context, corporate culture is the sum of all individual and collective modes of daily behaviors. Hence, the company needs in-house role models at all levels who authentically exemplify this new learning and culture.
A further prerequisite is adequate trust in the added value of a learning ecosystem for the company that convinces management to provide employees with the resources and time that networked learning in such an ecosystem demands. This means that learning must given greater priority in processes so as to create space for it - be it at the team level fostered through the team, individual learning focused OKRs, or in formal performance processes.
This investment in a new learning culture can also be leveraged on the business side. For example, within the context of the learning ecosystem, crowd intelligence can be activated to help find solutions that resolve issues of relevance to the entire firm. A prerequisite for gathering the necessary supporters for this is the continuous commutation of the added value and the necessity of continuous learning in times of increasing change and digitization.
At what point do you think "networked learning" will become a fundamental component of our professional lives?
Florian Brückner: Predictions are always risky, but I see two trends that the corona pandemic has induced in forging a positive influence on networked learning. For one, it has fundamentally changed how we work, forcing us towards more virtual and hybrid interactions, and concomitantly, how we learn. Beyond this, it has contributed to acceleration of digitalization in companies by up to three to seven years. Today, employees are using new tools for networking on a company-wide basis to a degree that few firms saw 24 months ago. At Lufthansa, we have seen how this shift to virtual space has created new networks as distances and hierarchies have been reduced.
Networked learning occurs as a complement to social learning by establishing appropriate structures to expand social learning’s radius - including through new digital tools. This means networked learning can and, in my view, should already be a building block among certain professional groups for effective and efficient learning - especially for administrative and creative activities.
I believe that in the next five years, networked learning can become a fundamental part of our professional lives. One reason is that the ever more rapidly changing world and advancing digitalization offer no alternative to more connected learning if we want to flourish in the face of these developments. However, the amount of focus and resources companies allocate to connected learning depends on being able to demonstrate its added value concretely, as well as on making the investments that are necessary on the part of the company and the employees transparent.