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Nick Lindsay

Elemental CoSec

Director

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Training for change

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If there was ever any doubt that we lived in a VUCA world, 2020 has added further layers of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in a way that would have been unthinkable even as 2019 drew to a close. And as autumn draws in it seems as though we are in for more of the same, with rolling shutdowns alongside track and trace requirements to self isolate potentially affecting businesses and their supply chains.

In May 2020 I highlighted the importance of risk awareness, equality and cross training in order to optimise the return to work which was at that time being signalled. Four months on and return to normality is being halted with, on the day of writing, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing in the House of Commons “we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so.”

As a consequence, the new VUCA world in which we find ourselves requires a new approach to training; one which fully prepares people to overcome whatever challenges are thrown at them in the future. With some exceptions standard training approaches tend to give people the skills and abilities which they need in order to complete their most immediate task, perhaps with some additional training undertaken with an eye to future promotions. Training needs which are identified as a result of business continuity reviews may also require an element of cross training, helping to ensure some measure of job cover.

Training for flexibility and change

But training such as this tends towards the practical, and that’s all that is needed in times of stability. However, in a VUCA world requirements change, moving towards approaches which help people to learn and assimilate tasks, rather than simply in training the task. So we should be looking more towards the process of giving people the skills they need in order to be flexible in approach, to think around a problem and to research and react to change.

When we learn how to learn then our mindsets are more open to flexibility and change. In the same way that learning or being exposed to multiple languages makes it easier to learn another language, the more skills and options we expose people to, the greater their ability to assimilate new roles. Or to take another example from childhood, if you tell a child how to spell a word they may or may not remember that spelling in future. If you show them how to research and look up the spelling either in a dictionary or online then they have a skill which will have multiple ongoing applications.

Even when Covid has become a distant memory, the pace of technological change means that a VUCA world will remain. So let’s stop training training’s sake and start our companies on a new pathway, training for change.

Author Profile Picture
Nick Lindsay

Director

Read more from Nick Lindsay
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