Introducing Training for Transformation

As we emerge from a truly transformative period in history – global pandemic, economic crisis, social unrest, and global political change – companies have been forced to examine how training has risen to new importance to keep people informed, engaged, and involved. Whether that means training initiatives for new health protocols or addressing the high priority for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts or reskilling people newly back to work in changed or different job functions – training is now about much more than checking a box for a required course. It’s about transforming people for greater purpose and performance, and as a result, transforming organizations to greater success.

In response to these changes and the continuing transformations occurring in L&D and HR departments across the globe, we at SAP Litmos have officially changed our tagline to Training for Transformation.

This is more than just a simple tagline change, however. It’s a broader messaging change meant to reflect our commitment to supporting companies as they transform through learning – improving people’s capabilities, deepening their purpose and commitment to their careers, and ultimately enabling organizations to be more adaptable and capable of success, no matter what changes take place in our increasingly fast-paced, interconnected world.

The History of Transformational Training

We at SAP Litmos are not the first to refer to training in the context of transformation. In fact, the term Transformational Training was introduced by educator and author Peter Drucker in 1999 when he brought forth the philosophy that successful companies would need to shift from skills-focused training to knowledge-driven training.

As Training Magazine describes:

Drucker’s method features both a short- and long-term training focus as employees are given the tools to learn and the encouragement to self-manage their own upskilling, directing employees to the information they need when they need it. This creates a transformational culture, improving employee productivity by aligning training and corporate strategies. It’s a simple shift but an important one: Training cannot be just about teaching a skill; it has to enable employees to perform at a higher level.

So, that was the origin of the idea, but we want to take it a step further and introduce the next-gen version of Transformational Training. A lot has changed since 1999, obviously, especially technology! When this concept was introduced, no one could have predicted how rapidly technology would evolve and how it would affect every aspect of our lives, professionally and personally.

The term “digital transformation” didn’t exist when Drucker launched his concept; (it’s thought to have entered the business lexicon in the 2010s). He couldn’t have known the impact that digital transformation would have on training – and how it would add another layer of meaning to his ideas on transforming how people work.

Next-Gen Transformational Training

Even pre-pandemic, corporate learning had been undergoing significant digital transformation. Most organizations were already mixing eLearning into their programs, even if they still relied most heavily on in-person training. The LMS had become quite ubiquitous, whether or not it was considered the central hub for the training department.

Then, along came 2020. If you weren’t relying on your LMS to serve as the learning hub before, well, all of a sudden you must. No choice, either transition all your training to digital or be forced to bring training to a halt. And clearly, a global pandemic is not an ideal time to cut off the flow of information to employees, customers, and partners, especially critical information such as health and safety protocols, new policies and processes for how and where to work, new skills requirements for changed roles, etc.

The “new normal” happened very quickly. Top-performing organizations adapted in record time to deliver online learning across audiences and learner types. While this may have been jarring (perhaps even downright scary) for many L&D departments, many good things came as a result. Organizations discovered that many learners actually prefer eLearning; they found that the outcomes were as effective as in-person; and they realized major cost savings. Most importantly, it made it possible to deliver truly transformative training – and live up to the original promise of the concept: enable employees to perform at a higher level.

Now we know that a powerful LMS (and other integrated solutions) enable people to perform at their best. They get micro-learning in-the-flow of work. They get answers on-the-fly (often from a mobile device). They get personalized learning paths that progress their career. Indeed, better, faster, smarter technology is driving the transformation.

That’s at the heart of this next iteration of transformative training. And, it’s never been more critical to business success. Leading companies are taking advantage of eLearning technology and cutting-edge content to deliver training that makes a difference for both individuals and the collective organization. It’s being used to transform companies by improving how well people perform, as a result of deeper knowledge, broader understanding, and increased personal empowerment.  Plus, today’s transformational training not only affects performance, it also increases job satisfaction, customer experience, and commitment from the extended enterprise.

Part of Drucker’s theory was that employee knowledge is a company’s most valuable asset but also the most underused. The first part hasn’t changed. However, many companies are now recognizing and correcting the “underused” part and they’re using training to do it. They have an awesome and unprecedented set of tools available to make the most of their “most valuable asset.” And many are doing it well.

As Training Industry explains, “Applying transformational training practices enables organizations to empower their employees with the information they need, when they need it, ultimately driving business outcomes.”

Or, as Jill Popelka, President, SAP SuccessFactors, recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Investing in people’s growth is investing in the company’s growth. Because no matter how big or small, business transformation is always a people transformation. Learning is the catalyst to not only drive these transformations, but to also empower the workforce to persevere as new challenges and opportunities emerge.”

Focus Areas to Consider to Develop Transformative Training:

  • Learning agility: The ability and willingness to learn from experience and apply that knowledge to perform in new situations and extrapolate from experiences to navigate unfamiliar conditions.
  • Digital competencies: Optimize capabilities for managing data, moving between multiple devices, internet research, data security, digital troubleshooting, etc.
  • Team mindsets: 70%+ of organizations perform more than half of their work through teams; 52% said team-driven work will increase moderately or greatly in the next two years.
  • Sustained remote learning: Organizations over-relied on instructor-led training (ILT) pre-pandemic. 65% of organizations say their employees wish to continue with mostly digital learning – instructors and learners alike.
  • Employee well-being: New environments and work conditions may remain stressful. Companies are investing in protecting workers’ mental health to improve productivity and employee retention and job satisfaction.
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I): People need to feel included and honored. Organizations are strengthened by creating inclusive cultures where people can participate and perform at their best, without restraint or fear of differentness.

That’s “training for transformation” according to SAP Litmos. And, if you’re interested in more information on this topic, please: