Learning Frame and Interdisciplinary Thinking 0

Vinodh Chelambathodi
What does the future of learning look like post-pandemic? Can organizations redefine their learning philosophies and develop entirely new learning practices through the way of experimentation? In this special column, Mr Vinodh Chelambathodi, CHRO at FSS Systems, talks about ‘The Learning Frame’ - a new L&D initiative at the organization - and why there is no normal to go back to and companies should instead explore and experiment with new methods.

The Pandemic has bestowed an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to take their Learning philosophy to the Future. Simplicity should take over the new learning design because there is no other substitute.

This brought a singular clarity and urgency of purpose to experiment and design an entirely new organization learning practice.

The long path to recovery (from this pandemic) presents us with two distinct choices. The first is to recoil back to normal, following the path of least resistance, reverting to old tested methods, predicted outcomes, settling down with yesterday’s results. This choice is less risky, resulting in middling performance or even failing in the new world. T

he second choice is an exploratory path, to experiment, chart a new course in the new world. There is no normal to go back to and instead, we should explore and stop the gravitational pull of the older methods to capitalize in learning through the crisis. I vote for the second path and the subsequent effort and month-long Zoom-storming led to what I call as ‘The Learning Frame’.

Frame is Born

Frame is BornSimplicity is another unexpected outcome of the pandemic. We need to redesign not just Learning, but also re-calibrate roles in the new future. We need to consciously construct an agile matrix with multidimensional role architecture by the name “Climbing Frame”. The re-engineered Learning philosophy – Learning Frame, compliments the employee’s transition through the Climbing frame.

The new cadence in learning is short, agile, and focused bursts of activities that were more energizing and engaging. We need to ask our employees, the relevant questions like:

  • What have you learned from the pandemic in terms of focus, faster decisions, and less bureaucracy?
  • Where have you deployed Agile teams?
  • Where do we retreat, adapt, and advance to be ready for the future?
There is no normal to go back to and instead, we should explore and stop the gravitational pull of the older methods to capitalize in learning through the crisis. Click To Tweet

Learning takes a new name and a shape every decade, and this decade belongs to Futuristic Learning. Having said this, where does the learning take the learner?…

To a future with possibilities or to the past where the learning can be inferred from?

Learning is a loop that connects the past and the future in the present continuum.

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I call this continuum as the Thinking Loop – a learning loop where the learner revels in the present, very much aware of future possibilities, and having imbibed the past lessons.

My Thoughts on Thinking Loop and Intrinsic Thinking Organization

Learning is a continuous process. It is only complete when the learner interprets his/her experience under the light of newly acquired knowledge and thus prepares himself for the future. This past-present-future connectivity creates a Learning loop, which I like to call the Thinking Loop. Thinking Loop completes the learning process and the newly imbibed information is now a ready-to-apply knowledge.

This transition aided by reflection (thinking), is significant for a Thinking organization. A thinking organization facilitates thinking and conscious decision making at all levels against the ‘Few think and others execute’ type of organization. Every role should be associated with a share of thinking and I strongly believe that this should be the objective of learning.

Think Labs

We need Think Labs which would trigger “problem-solving thinking” in graduates and facilitate the metanoia where they imbibe the requisite knowledge and apply in business simulations. They should be trained to reflect and exercise a degree of decision making vested on them through simulations. The idea is to engage them by sharing stories from the industry and setting the aspirations high.

A thinking organization facilitates thinking and conscious decision making at all levels against the ‘Few think and others execute’ type of organization. Every role should be associated with a share of thinking and I strongly believe that this should be the objective of learning.

Non-Linear Growth through Interdisciplinary Thinking

Non-Linear Growth through Interdisciplinary Thinking

Sooner or later organizations will realize that the career ladder is a limiting, regressive way to approach employee development. Linear growth is essentially a survival instinct and it forces a person to fit into the molds of career options that are forged for people who sidestep risks and are hesitant to learn.

With the dawn of interdisciplinary thinking, we should encourage people to make career choices to help with non-linear growth. Employees can and shall pursue roles that need these crossbred competencies that are unique and build strategic capability in the workforce.

We need to include social-learning components in our learning programs. These components include discussion boards, learner journeys and should focus on cohorts of people undertaking learning together, alongside Self-paced learning of employees. These programs will enable a fully digital experience. I find these insights profound.

We need to drop a few old practices viz.,

  1. Adhoc Interventions
  2. Training in Silos
  3. Push Training (External push)

The new Learning Frame should accommodate:

  1. Forecasted and planned interventions
  2. Integrated Learning approach
  3. Pull Learning (Intrinsic Motivation)

‘Learning Frame’ would promote interdisciplinary collaboration, creating compounded value, a sense of community, encouraging employees to learn new competencies.

Individual Learning Disposition© and Personalized Learning Expedition

Learning is Vision driven and I can ascertain that technology will help in realizing this vision. Technology aids in catering to different learning styles and in transforming the landscape of learning. Individual Learning Disposition© relates to employees’ interest to learn across domains and adding capability.

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Individual Learning Disposition© is driven by two factors:

  • Aspiration – What one can learn
  • Gratification – What one can gain from what one had learned

Individual Learning Disposition© = [ (What one can learn * How one can learn) * Gratification ] / Learning Frequency

Frequency is the number of learning instances in a year. Frequency is 1 for once a year, 0.75 for twice a year, 0.5 for thrice a year, and 0.25 for every quarter. If the learning happens across the year, which is the desired state, the ILD score would be high for the individual and the organization.

We should focus on human connections, creating intentional, meaningful interactions. We should aggressively adapt to new practices - to stay not just relevant, but focused on a cause and purpose. Click To Tweet

When an employee completes the Design Thinking course (40 Learning Credits) through E-learning mode and earns a certification, which is the fourth such certification he had earned over the year, the frequency becomes 0.25 Total Credits earned =40*3*2 / 0.25 Total Credits earned = 960

  • Individual Learning Efficiency = Actual individual learning man days / Desired individual man days
  • Organization Learning efficiency = Actual learning man days (collective) / Desired man days (collective)

Individual Learning Disposition can drive astounding Organizational learning efficiency. When we dematerialize the medium, the learning becomes unconditional and can happen by choice. This approach takes the game to the next league.

What Should We Measure

The “re-framed” learning objective gives us an opportunity to rethink and design learner’s end-to-end experience. We should focus on human connections, creating intentional, meaningful interactions. We should aggressively adapt to new practices – to stay not just relevant, but focused on a cause and purpose.

Closing thought – the learning ability of people and their interest keeps shifting with the venture of new technologies and skillsets. We need more thinking organizations to sort the clamor around us. Today universities are extending interdisciplinary courses that interlink Ecology with other regular streams with the hope of producing a new world order to sort complex problems. We should re-calibrate our metrics and measure what one can solve from what one has learned. This is what we would need to measure if at all we want to measure.

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Vinodh Chelambathodi (VC) is a futuristic HR leader who has extensive experience of 25+ years in leading people function across industries. He was a part of the HR leadership team under Vineet Nayar at HCL, where he played a key role in transforming HCL’s employer Brand and positioning HCL as “People First and Customers Next”. He then took over as CHRO for Intellect Design and was part of the Executive Leadership team headed by Arun Jain, founder of Intellect Design. Vinodh then moved on to becoming the CHRO of FSS, where he is leading the Global People function including Org. Design, C&B Modelling, Org. Effectiveness, Learning and Development Dialogue, Coaching, Talent Attraction, Workforce Management, Capability Management, Joy and Wellness at Work place and all other People Development functions. Vinodh is an alumni of the NIPM, Kolkatta and was named top of the rack in the list of Top 50 Inspiring CEO’s by Silicon India magazine.

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