Empowerment and inspiration will replace command and control as leadership imperatives. It takes courage and insight to imagine a leadership model that pulls toward a digital future yet is simple and memorable and to then embed it in relevant people processes and engage leaders at all levels to embrace it and overcome cultural inertia. The engagement must be at scale and both top down as well as bottom up.
In addition to engaging an organisation’s leadership, the entire workforce must be mobilised and prepared for a decade of reskilling and upskilling. All jobs, clearly some more than others, will be impacted by automation and artificial intelligence (AI). For some, it will be a matter of incremental learning. For others, it will mean changing professional identity and starting another career.
It will be a major effort to motivate associates to take stock and ownership of their future employability. Concepts such as life-long learning and adaptive personalised learning have to be turned from idea into reality. Corporate learning must orchestrate an ecosystem of internal and external learning partners and resources to cope with such a singular challenge and it requires top management commitment and sponsorship.
Increasingly, companies set aside a dedicated fund of significant size to finance the forthcoming reskilling wave, as this would surpass the means of normal learning budgets that get allocated at business unit level.
These funds are held at enterprise level and facilitate internal mobility in line with the shifting demand for new skills. For example, Shell just announced a large-scale deal with the online learning provider Udacity to provide online education on AI for 2,000 employees.
Novartis offers its employees a free online masters degree programme in data science via Coursera, another provider of online education. And Siemens launched a Fund for the Future that facilitates a bottom-up approach to creating new qualification projects.