June 16, 2015

Continuous learning – keeping up with a changing world

Teemu Toivonen

SAP Trainee, Tieto,

Currently the IT industry is going through strong changes. The changes originate from shifting business logics, revenue models and evolving technology. The main aspect from this blog’s perspective is the need to respond to the evolvement of technology. New technologies, such as moving to cloud services, require organizations to be able to learn.

There are four main types of innovations: sustaining, evolutionary, revolutionary, and disruptive. The cloud has been thought of as a disruptive technology/innovation as it can transform the whole basic economics of a business.

So, now the basic premise for the topic is laid out: the industry is facing a transforming business landscape and needs to adjust to the changes to stay current. How, then, can companies react to these changes? The answer is organizational learning, evolve in order to meet the needs of customers. Companies need to put the latest knowledge into action; new skills are required.

But what is organizational learning put simply? What does it consist of? I think organizational learning basically boils down to individual, team, and / unit level learning. People who are passionate about their jobs crave to learn more and share what they have learnt in the process. As technology evolves rapidly, people need to constantly update their knowledge base to perform to their utmost best level.

Personal development also comes through the fact that no project is like another and for every project new skills are needed.

Below some ways to stay on top of the game:

Read books: It does not matter what you read, it all adds up and gives you new perspectives and may give new fresh ideas on how to combine previous skills.

Read industry relevant blogs and postings: Nowadays there is way too much information on any given topic for one person to go through, so make use of summarized information and insights and delve further into topics that raise your interest.

Do online courses: Online courses give you access to summarized and structured information. It is often possible to take courses at your own pace and to go through topics again if they did not stick the first time.

Learning by doing: This is one of my favourite ways of learning. Learning does not need to be a boring reading grindfest; it can instead be thought provoking problem solving.

Watch videos: YouTube and other media provide hours and hours of lectures, how-tos and guides on any given topic.

External training: There are several great information providers on any given topic.

Internal training: This is one of the most beneficial methods from the perspective of an organization. You learn the relevant information and also the culture within the organization associated with the topic.

Networking and learning from colleagues:  As a part of organizations and a part of professional networks, learn from others and make use of the knowledge gained by others. There is no point in reinventing the wheel several times at the start of every new project.

Scientific publications: This is maybe the hardest way, but it gives you cutting edge information on your chosen field.

As the world is changing at such a fast pace and production cycles are getting shorter, it would be odd if no adaptation would be required from individuals. To make the most of your human capital and to answer the changing needs of customers and organizations we, the individuals, need to constantly develop our skillset to match the demand.

Continuous development gives you an opportunity to fulfil your potential and find new approaches, to gain wisdom, and provide new perspectives.

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