How to adapt training to ease the impending effects of disruption

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‘Disruption’. It’s a word that has taken on a positive connotation since the prolific rise of digital throughout the ‘80s. Although it still refers to an interruption to a traditional way of doing something, for consumers it invariably means lower barriers to entry, faster delivery time or beneficial models. In essence, it means a progression from antiquated methods or models. ‘Disruption’ in the training space has farther reaching consequences. While technology progression is disrupting education in a similar manner to other industries, the evolution of those industries hinges on the successful transformation of how we train the people working within them.

According to a Harvard Business Review article published in 2016, there are three ‘levers’ organisations can pull to keep up with the mighty pace of progression; we’ll cleverly call them the ‘three C’s of tomorrow’:

  • Catalytic Roles: New employees with a comprehensive understanding of digital and technology are brought in to challenge traditional models and thinking.
  • Culture: Creating a culture of measurement, as, without data, decisions lean on nothing more than haphazard gut feelings and hunches.
  • Commitment: The support of executives and boards.

The review also identifies the industries that are most likely to feel disruption:

How can businesses keep up with – or get ahead of – disruption and its consequences using the ‘three C’s’?

Catalytic Roles

It may not always be possible to bring in new technology-savvy employees; there could be a shortage of talent, resource restrictions, or simply ‘not the right fit’. That’s not to say that there isn’t potential within your organisation. Identifying gaps in your company’s skillsets can give rise to training programmes that give existing employees the skills to fill them.

In addition to providing your employees with opportunities to grow, effective training can usher in a new wave of enthusiasm and think with an added bonus: context. Existing employees already know the company’s vision and goals, they have already adjusted to the culture and have relationships in place. Upskilling internally also allows you to select employees who are already performing.


Just like the Harvard example, creating a culture of measurement is integral to prepping your company for the future. This is no different in the training arena. Technologies like Axonify have started enabling businesses to really take control of the impact that their training programmes have on operations and the behaviours of their employees. These tools collect a massive amount of data on arguably the most important part of your business: the employees.

Imagine having qualitative insight into how your business is operating in terms of employee behaviours. Now imagine the impact that can be made when trying to optimise. It’s a no-brainer.


Like all worthy business ventures, resources are required. It truly is a case of ‘you get what you pay for’. Business leaders cannot expect to invest half-heartedly in training programmes and get a decent return. For most businesses, effective and skilled employees are the difference between success and failure, even with the new age of technology businesses; machines cannot make strategic decisions just yet.

Fortunately, as described above, measurement can shine a light on the returns in a language that business executives understand: numbers. This gives Learning and Development departments an unprecedented opportunity to start proving the return that training has on the business.

Digital training’s initial investment may be a little higher but, when you can measure the return and scale it, the value becomes crystal clear.

In the graph below, the initial cost of e-learning programmes is higher than that of Instructor-led Training (ILT), but as soon as we scale the number of people per cycle, e-learning clearly becomes the most cost-effective approach.

The real beauty of technology is that it enables almost any solution to be scaled up at a far lower cost. With education, this effect is compounded. Not only does it facilitate the growth of educational solutions and initiatives, it enables all other industries to scale up the skillsets of their workforce, equipping employees to deal with changing landscapes and evolving products.

Dealing with disruption doesn’t have to be a disruptive process. It can be an opportunity to grow, to change and to adapt to the shifting needs of your customers. Companies need to adapt their thinking and their approach or get left behind.

Author: Kyle Hauptfleisch

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