Reading, writing, calculating and coding — internal education prevents digitization losers

In order to survive in the digital world, every business has to change radically. A very important part of this change concerns the most important resource of every company: people.

Every business has to change radically if it wants to survive in the digital world. A very important part of this change concerns the most important resource of every company: people. Those companies that quickly help their employees and leaders to perceive digital transformation as an opportunity for sustainable development, and that motivate and empower them to actively embrace this change, will be the winners!

Nobody can be left behind!

The main characteristic of the digital age is speed. Digital technologies are developing rapidly, while humans and their behaviors are changing at a snail’s pace. We are already seeing this clash: exponential growth in technical possibilities, linear growth in personal skills. A real problem, also with regard to the increasing automation of our work environment, in which simple manual processes as well as more complex cognitive processes are successively being taken over by machines.

Fig. 1: Change Rate Technology vs. Human

So what can we do about that? How can we prevent digitalization losers? That’s the group of employees who are more likely to be “over-run” by the digital D-train than others, because they either don’t understand it well, don’t see any point in changing, or because their work is simply being replaced by new technologies. This group has a high need for further advancement and training. Their individual digital education must now be initiated!

Because no one may be left behind, everyone goes together in the digital future. The fact is: Education avoids digitalization losers! Education is the key to a successful digital transformation!

Fig.2: 42% of all Germans are potential losers of digitalization [Bonin/Gregory/ Zierahn 2015]

These skills make everyone a digital expert!

So what skills do employees and managers need to be fit for the digital future? Which skills need to be built, which other ways of thinking need to be manifested?

Reading, writing, calculating are all skills that we learned at school. However, for the digital age, we have yet to develop another capability: coding. Coding not only stands for software programming, but also for those skills that are needed in the digital age to meet the new demands of work. The ability to innovate and understand technologies, transformational leadership qualities, cultural forms of collaboration and participation as well as the willingness to change form the five fields of competence in which we must continue our education.

Fig. 3: Framework: digital competencies for employees in companies

Get started now!

So we now know that the digital transformation has started to roll and we need to be careful not to get overwhelmed. We also know that in order to prevent this, we need to invest in the digital education of our executives and employees and build the skills of the digital future within each and every company. The goal is in sight, you just have to focus! But how?

The most obvious and effective way to make a company fit for the digital age is through in-house training. True to the motto: “Reading, writing, calculating, coding and language”, the most important core competences and skills are taught here. Such a “Digital Academy” can be linked to previous training and education measures or you see it as the starting signal for a new era, which takes place in new, creative spaces — so-called Digital Labs or Experience Centers. For executives, there is a special “Digital Leadership” training that addresses the changing needs of modern executives and helps individuals identify and, if necessary, adjust their leadership style.

Keep asking your “reverse mentor” questions

Besides training- and innovation formats, “reverse mentoring” is also very well suited to prevent digitalization losers. Simply appoint your digital natives, who grew up in the digital age and who are already intuitively working with technology, as mentors for employees who struggle more with this change.

However, if values such as agile collaboration, participation and competence-based leadership are trained, but the reality is still similar to a silo landscape in which each department is working by itself, this is a problem. New “digital” values and ways of working must therefore always be translated into new organizational structures, new KPIs and new company values!

Keep your eye on the ball!

The digital transformation is certainly faster and more complex than previous big changes in society. But, there has and will always be change! The only sure thing is uncertainty. That’s why you should never stop learning. Lifelong learning and adaptation are the long-term success factors of every company. An investment in the digital education of executives and employees will pay off. Announce your HR department today as a strategic business partner who actively promotes employee development and bring your company into the digital future!


[originally published on June 24th, 2018]

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