Managing talent and learning in the face of disruption

22 Mar 2018 9:53 AM | Anonymous

Kayla Festa

If you were asked to describe your 2018 priorities in one word, what would that be?

On March 13, senior Organization Development (OD) leaders from across industries, disciplines, experiences and backgrounds kicked off the first Organization Development Network (ODN) of New York live event of 2018 by sharing their thoughts. Transformation, digitization, simplification, and culture are the top areas of focus this year for the panelists.  

Digital transformation

The world is changing, and digitalization is creating vast opportunity for organizations. For OD professionals, the unprecedented, accelerated change we are facing is impacting the way in which we plan for, attract, engage, and develop employees.

With seasoned Learning professionals on the panel, we wanted to understand how their organizations and learning experiences are being impacted. Particularly, as we move forward in the face of disruption, how do we equip our employees to grow and develop future-focused skills while being successful today?

Understanding and embracing emerging technologies is important. One panelist spoke to the group about her organization’s move toward micro-learning. Employees are demanding more control of their own development, and micro-learning helps put the control in the hands of the employees to drive what, when, and how they are learning. Through this change, they’ve embraced artificial intelligence (AI). By shifting from a learning management system (LMS) to a learner experience portal, they are leveraging AI to deliver customized content in short and easily digestible ways.

A common challenge for OD professionals is that we often focus exclusively on our client’s development and readiness for change while completely ignoring the need to have that same focus within the talent/learning organization. One panelist shared with the group about a realized need to step back and look at transformation as it relates to the learning department. By undergoing a learning transformation challenge, the department was tasked with rethinking every step they take in their learning processes – including challenging their own fundamental beliefs such as the decision to develop a program for any and all learning needs.


In the face of change and uncertainty, organizations are requiring their workforce to work faster, smarter, and more productively. New technologies are helping employees share information and collaborate better, but even with these tools, knowledge is not always shared extensively throughout an organization.

We asked our panelists what their organizations are doing to support collaboration, and even further, develop talent with cross-functional collaboration skills. One executive shared an anecdote about his organization rethinking the overall organizational structure. In this company, a typical vertical organizational structure exists. An example of this is a brand within a portfolio that operates independently from the other brands or a marketing department where power emanates top down.

In order to enhance collaboration, they are implementing horizontal structures in addition to the verticals. With this model, individuals with similar career paths (i.e., IT professionals across the businesses or sommeliers from various restaurants) become their own workgroup. By creating these horizontals, they are able to share best practices and leverage the collective knowledge of the group to be more innovative and responsive to change.

Organizational change and culture

As organizations change, so does the culture of the company. OD professionals play an active role in guiding the transformation of the culture. This is particularly true for one of our panelists who spoke about his role at an organization that recently underwent a massive transformation. Engaging the employees in developing the culture was critical, he shared. By successfully involving people across the organization, at all levels, and ensuring they know how to carry out his or her part is central to the transformation’s success.

Connecting matters!

During a time when the only real constant is change, connecting with others who are navigating new realities is critical. Around 50 OD professionals and students were not only able to hear from these leaders directly but also build on the discussion around what the future may bring for talent and learning professionals during a lively networking event.

The ODN of New York provides curated content on topics relevant for the OD community. With monthly webinars, quarterly in person events, virtual book clubs, and mastermind groups, there is an opportunity for you to connect, grow and contribute within our community. With all of the disruption prevalent today, now is the perfect time to engage with the ODN of New York community and stay up-to-date in the dynamic field of OD!



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