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The future of learning

The principle that we never stop learning applies just as much to companies as it does to personal development. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as evolving companies have to gather and secure much more knowledge in ever-shorter time frames. Many companies are unable to master this task alone. In light of this, innogy Consulting has founded LRN LAB, an innovative learning laboratory for companies.


In the course of my work at innogy Consulting, I have noticed time and again that shifts in learning within the digital world represent a central challenge. So, what makes learning so important for companies and how will learning change in the future? I met our LRN LAB expert, Dr Philipp Philippen, to find out more. Dr Philippen has been an expert in the fields of learning and systemic development of people and organisations for over a decade and shares his knowledge as a coach, lecturer, advisor and Learning Content Designer.


Interview:

Isabelle Roggenkamp: Learning is currently one of the most important factors for the success of a company. Why is that?

Dr Philipp Philippen: Nowadays, the demands on organisations and the people working within them are evolving faster than ever. On the one hand, our work has become increasingly project based, meaning we often have to adjust to new demands – be they technological or cultural. On the other, job descriptions and roles in classic line functions are changing too: automation is replacing many professions, and complexity, plus the pressure for innovation, requires interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to maintain a competitive edge in the long term.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: How will learning in organisations change in the future and what does that mean for companies?

Dr Philipp Philippen: Learning will become more of a constant feature that has to be integrated into the daily work routine, both continually and procedurally. This will ensure that learning and working develop together. These days, knowledge has a very short half-life and is now available everywhere for free. This makes the ability to organise your own learning a crucial skill. Employee enablement and autonomy are the new keywords.

For companies, this means having to adjust their learning processes to their employees' personal requirements and learning habits and ensuring that learning materials are provided on demand and on the spot. As a result, further education concepts such as classical classroom training are becoming more obsolete, as they require needs testing, planning and sourcing, which make them too slow. In the future, there will be more focus on tackling challenges in practice, which will be underpinned by coaching from within the organisation.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: How does LRN LAB contribute to improving learning in organisations?

Dr Philipp Philippen: LRN LAB was founded around two years ago in order to make the extensive experience gained through innogy SE’s cultural and digital transformation available to the external market. We believe in the principles of open shop and sharing is caring, so we want to share our knowledge and learn from others at the same time.

The LRN LAB offers a thought space to meet the increasingly multidisciplinary challenges, which can only be solved with cross-functional and company-wide approaches. We blend the perspective of a start up with a large corporation and unify psychological, systemic, technological and economic knowledge.

In this way, we develop learning solutions that meet the requirements of learning in the future – be it on an organisation’s operative, content or cultural level. We rely on a situational and co-creative approach to develop appropriate solutions together with our clients and partners.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: What problems do you solve

Dr Philipp Philippen: In the Consulting division, we concentrate on assessing an organisation’s future viability for our clients: What prerequisites do we need to create for the organisation to remain successful in the future? Particularly in the context of agile or digital transformation, this has a lot to do with people's attitudes and the organisation's culture. From our systemic view, we also recognise that in many cases this can only be achieved by changing processes and structures. To that end, we also work on our clients’ organisational designs and strategic concepts.

In the Academy and Learning departments, we mainly focus on the topic of learning in the future. This is because the need for organisations to become more agile and innovative will continue to grow. In order to withstand these changes, the people in an organisation – and the organisation itself – will not only need to have process and method competencies but also the capacity to learn. Our goal is to convey these competencies and to future-proof people and organisations through innovative learning solutions.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: What do you stand for and what makes you different?

Dr Philipp Philippen: Our approach is unique in that we are a team with a very diverse range of professional competencies and background experience. This enables us to analyse the specific challenges facing an organisation from all relevant perspectives. Not only that, we also have the corresponding solution competencies in house – be they in our LRN LAB team or within the wider innogy Consulting team. We are therefore able to support our customers in the identification, development, testing and implementation of solutions using technical, procedural, content and cultural approaches.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: Why does learning in organisations often fail nowadays?

Dr Philipp Philippen: There are many reasons for this. Above all, a lack of time, and prioritising daily business, take precedence over learning. People often lose sight of the fact that learning is a long-term investment. The consequence of this is that learning isn’t usually integrated into company operations on a procedural level.

Another reason is personnel-related: Learning is often seen as an additional burden and connected with the idea of having failed. Not only that, the effort of learning is seldom rewarded by organisations, if at all. The tools often present another shortcoming as they don’t focus on the user experience, are incomprehensible, impractical or are simply not available. Often there are just too many training courses on offer, leaving employees feeling overwhelmed by the range of opportunities and not knowing which to choose.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: How can organisations secure their future with innovative learning solutions?

Dr Philipp Philippen: First and foremost, it’s important to create an external framework for continuous learning. To achieve this, learning must be embedded into practical experience. The learning opportunities have to be intuitive and easy to use, and coaches or managers need to be available to provide support where necessary. Another crucial factor is embedding learning in the social environment. Reflecting on the learning process with colleagues and experts on a regular basis will help achieve this.

Isabelle Roggenkamp: What solutions are you currently working on?

Dr Philipp Philippen: Existing solutions such as classic Learning Management Systems (LMS). Company learning platforms often fall short, don’t meet future requirements or are still in their infancy. And organisational regulations, like having specific time set aside during the work day for learning or sessions of reflection, are often poorly managed.

We are therefore working primarily on solutions that address the issue of learning more comprehensively and at different levels. To that end, we have developed a Company Learning Accelerator that will establish a new company learning culture in 100 days – a type of Netflix for the learning division – in the form of a modular, customisable, interactive and on-demand learning platform. A further point on our agenda is VR-based training sessions and workshops, which create a second-life learning environment, and a special digital leadership transformation journey.

Thank you very much for this enlightening interview and the deep insights into the work of the LRN LAB.

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An article by

Isabelle Roggenkamp Senior Consultant Change Practice
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