What digital means for the next generation of corporate academies.

First published at http://www.mckinsey.com

Authors: Richard Benson-Armer, Arne Gast, and Nick van Dam

Corporate universities are entering their second century, just as the businesses that rely on them are transforming themselves for the digital age.

When pioneers such as General Motors and General Electric began offering standardized in-house training programs, about 100 years ago, they focused on imparting lower-level, day-to-day skills. Back then, it may have seemed fanciful to imagine the full-fledged academies that would emerge in later decades.

But emerge they did: GE’s Crotonville leadership center, in 1956; McDonald’s Hamburger University, in 1961; and today’s true learning institutions for global corporations such as Apple, Boeing, and Danone.

Now a new phase is unfolding at these organizations, which must grapple with tools and platforms that facilitate knowledge sharing and employee interactions on an almost limitless scale, challenging—and sometimes appearing to sweep away—the old brick-and-mortar model

Where the findings lead

In 2014, we queried some 1,500 global executives about capability building.

Last year, we sharpened our focus, surveying approximately 120 senior learning-and-development (L&D) officers to gain a more in-depth understanding of the present state and probable trajectory of corporate academies.

We also conducted multiple benchmarking visits at best-in-class organizations and interviewed more than a dozen chief learning officers (CLOs) with experience at some of the largest, most successful companies around the world. Our findings derive, moreover, from insights we’ve gleaned through practical experience with corporate academies globally. That includes McKinsey Academy, this firm’s digital offering, which serves not only our consultants but also our clients, to help develop leaders and build functional capabilities.

The great majority of our respondents expect corporate learning to change significantly within the next three years—both the capabilities imparted and the new agility required to match the faster pace of business. Most also acknowledge that these developments will probably have a material cost: over that period, more than 60 percent of the respondents’ companies plan to increase their learning-and-development spending and 66 percent to increase the number of formal-learning hours per employee.

What’s worrying is the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Only 57 percent of the respondents believe that their academies are “very or fully aligned” with corporate priorities. Even fewer (52 percent) reported that these institutions enable their companies to meet strategic objectives. About 40 percent of CLOs say that their initiatives are either “ineffective” or “neither effective nor ineffective” in assessing the capabilities and gaps of employees.

These shortcomings are most pronounced among midlevel managers and senior leaders—reflecting, in our experience, how difficult it is to instill new attitudes, particularly at the higher levels of a company

Source: Learning at the speed of business | McKinsey & Company

My point of view:
In this digital era one should acceptance failure. Let me be clear. Failure is never a goal in itself. But failure as a mode that something does not work is important, but nevertheless a goal. Failures are needed to transform and innovate. And for me, i’m not sure how formal education and training can incorporate that concept of failure in their curriculum.


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