When covid-19 took the world by surprise, it did more than alter our way of thinking, living and working. It presented us with a massive change order and no one told us the secret.

That change is easier said than done!

Which is why for some businesses, inspite of robust investments in learn-tech, getting learner adoption in virtual learning is still a bumpy road ahead. It’s not just the acceptance of the new training modality that is challenging, it’s our fixed mindset that stops us from adapting to the changing times.

Change is difficult

A part of that is evolutionary. You see, our brain is designed to stay in the known, the familiar. It cannot discern good or bad. It just understands habits and routines – our habits and routines; a mechanism it learnt to keep us safe from danger (read: unknown). Which is why we find excuses to snooze the early morning alarm (if you are not an early riser), ditch the gym (if you are not the exercising kind), reach for slice of pie when you are dieting (if you don’t value nutrition). Which is also why when our classroom training gave way to virtual instructor led training, we couldn’t grapple with the new modality. Or when our skills started becoming outdated and obsolete faster, we didn’t know the way forward to upskill ourselves. And even we did know, finding learning time in our already packed schedule was impossible due to the digital fatigue we were under.

Here’s a useful representation of the Comfort Zone that helps us understand:

1.            Where we are at currently

2.            How the road ahead looks for us

the comfort zone internal image

Most of us, unfortunately, stay in the red zone all our lives. Because we are too afraid, too unsure, too anxious about the future (speaks into the brain story). But if you were to plot people who have taken the leap and are successful today, those who have pushed past and overcome their fears, acquired new skills, found their purpose – Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra – almost all of them will feature in the Growth zone.

Resetting yourself with Digital Learning

The first Q you need to ask is – how do you get from the red zone to the green zone? A single line answer is by getting into the driver’s seat of your learning journey. It’s not just the new skills you will add to your arsenal, but the byproduct of this is an enhanced life that’s fulfilling and rewarding.

The ‘how’ to the above question lies in ‘Digital Learning’.

•             It’s a must-have for today’s digital world

•             It’s available on demand

•             It goes where you go

•             It is self-paced

•             It is personalized

•             It aligns to real-world changes in real-time

•             It reduces your time-to-productivity

•             Puts you in charge

Upskilling & taking ownership of your growth

Knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of learning and development is half the battle one. Unless you know HOW to achieve it, you will not be able to truly take ownership of your growth. Fortunately, the secret mantra to achieving it is no farther than remembering ABCD.

A – Agility

B – Be Responsible

C – Continuous Learning

D – Digital Learning

  • A – Agility

In his book, ‘Thank You for Being Late’, Thomas L. Friedman says that, the technological growth and change has really overtaken the speed of the human brain’s adaptability to change. There was a time when human adaptability was higher than the pace of technological changes but today the technological changes have significantly overtaken the ability for us to adapt.


While the adaptability of human beings itself is lagging, the adaptability of Businesses is even slower than that.

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How to bring about Agility through learning:

Digital learning experts suggest that learning agility is in itself a combination of skills including but not limited to flexibility, speed, experimentation, risk-taking, collaborating, information gathering, seeking feedback and reflection. The first step to developing learning agility in your employees using digital learning is to first assess them for the above-mentioned skills. Based on the results of the assessment, relevant training on the identified competencies/ skills, through befitting modalities, should be made available to the learners.

For learners in the pursuit of agility, it’s about looking back (self-reflection), looking around (collaborative learning with a senior, formal training, webinars) and looking ahead (staying in sync with industry trends).

  • B – Be Responsible

If there’s something I have learnt about taking ownership, especially of learning, is this:

If you don’t take ownership of your own growth and development, you show that you, yourself, are not invested and committed. So why will anyone else be? Or what if there is someone else who has the momentum already. Before you know it, you will get passed over for the next promotion, the new assignment, the new role and in a full circle moment of things, you will blame your boss, your company for being stuck, while it was actually YOU who was not being responsible for yourself.

How to breed Responsibility through learning:

The key here is to start with the low hanging fruits. You need to provide high quality, relevant and meaningful content on key competencies, either mapped to your IDP or CPD, to your learners. This content should be available just in time of need, indicating the need of anytime, anywhere learning through mobile apps (even offline mLearning) and integrations with other tools and software. Also, just providing a plethora of content is not sufficient. You need to carve out user journeys aligned to organizational goals and individual aspirations. An AI-LMS is great help in enabling this as it constantly learns from learner behavior and recommends content. Further, using a Competency Management Module that shows the learner his/ her career path and skill-gaps that need addressing, and Gamification Module that infuses a competitive spirit in L&D serve as a validation in being a ‘responsible’ learner.

For learners, it’s about taking the reins of learning in your own hands. It’s about investing the time, energy, and focus to develop understanding. They have to learn to leverage the available resources on their own merit and self-drive.

  • C – Continuous Learning

Carol Dweck is a researcher at Stanford University. Well–known for her work on “the fixed mindset vs. the growth mindset”, she describes the difference between these two mindsets and how they impact your performance as this:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” —Carol Dweck, Stanford University

You see, when we were young we were told a lie. That education is about schooling, graduation and for some of us, post-graduation. But that it was finite. That after one fine day of doing it all, we would be ‘learned’.

The truth is the shelf life of skills is dwindling. The seismic changes in technology are changing the face of work. That today’s best will not meet the challenges of tomorrow.

And the only way to keep going, and going strong, is sharpen your skill set, both depth and breadth, as that’s the only thing that will set you apart from your competition.

How to make Continuous Learning a non-negotiable:

Creating a supportive environment that encourages employees to engage in continuous learning takes commitment, resources, and coaching. So along with investing in a comprehensive learning management system and digital learning content, you need to identify Learning Champions who can be torchbearers of the initiative and foster a learning culture that encourages and rewards knowledge acquisition.

For aspiring continuous learners, you need to start with a goal and from there use your network (social included) and sources to gain diverse information on topics (ideally aligned to goal achievement). The idea is not to get overwhelmed with the barrage of information out there (it’s called ‘paradox of choice’) but to be selective and space out the learning so it’s easily digestible.

  • D – Digital Learning

We have already covered this in the previous section – the advantages of digital learning. But to make it more practical, here are some tips for you:

Learning in the flow of work: Did you ever have a situation wherein you were doing your job but stumbled upon something you weren’t 100% clear on, got help from a trusted colleague/ internet search, and voila – it was a job well done. This is an everyday example of ‘learning in the flow of work’. Digital learning makes it easier as you don’t have to ‘physically’ go to someone/ something for an answer but rather use a digital tool as a bridge to get to the solution.

Microlearning: If I were to teach you an authentic Hyderabadi biryani recipe today, it would take me hours to demonstrate the elaborate preparation and cooking. But if made a video of it, edited it to make it concise – just covering the essential to-dos , it would have the same, or rather a positive effect as your brain would be able to process it better cognitively due to its short length. This is the beauty of microlearning. In today’s times of increased distractions and shrinking attention spans, a knowledge nugget goes a long way than hour-long courses.

Collaborative Learning: How many of you have done group study with friends during your graduation or post-graduation? During my Engineering, me and my group of 6 friends used to get together at someone’s place and study through the night ‘together’ – each sharing his/ her know-how and findings on that subject. I am not recommending you to pull an all nighter, but it does capture the essence of Collaborative Learning well. Sometimes you will find that doing a Google search or looking for a relevant course may take more time investment than seeking a colleague’s or a senior’s guidance. This is social learning at play and studies have shown the importance of social learning in knowledge assimilation and productivity improvement. Most LMSs have in-built Social Learning and Knowledge Collab tools that not only enable conversion of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, but bring about information learning.

How to embed Digital Learning in your L&D:

Borrowing from Josh Bersin’s article, ‘Begin by taking a hard look at all segments of your workforce to identify one challenge you can address. For example, new-hire training might be a good place to start. Consider retaining a consultant or building a small team and then pulling together your organization’s resources to deliver a compelling digital experience for the group you have decided to focus on. You’ll be able to gain a lot of insight and position yourself for the explosive digital transformation ahead.’

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