Designing a radically new approach to building capability: Beyond Training!
CLIENT: VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT, 2017
To develop a capability building program with the overall goal of driving more innovative workforce planning that delivers lasting system-wide benefits.
The real challenge: Shifts in the nature and complexity of modern work and the way in which people learn have rendered many of the conventional approaches and methods outdated and no longer effective. (We all know this, everyone's been on the receiving end of a corporate learning experience with little utility or business impact).
The actual requirement: A divergent process of need identification, one that connects the process more to those leading workforce planning initiatives and one that balances the needs of both the individual and the organisation equally. This helps to shift the scope of a needs analysis process and the subsequent capability program interventions beyond training artefacts, extending itself to an approach focused on the (ACTUAL) experiences and behaviours of individuals and the requirements of the organisation.
A typical approach to building capability is to identify and then reduce the gaps between organisational requirements and individual capability through corporate training. What underpins this approach is the assumption that ‘training’ is the most effective mechanism for building and sustaining capability. The shifts in the nature and complexity of modern work and the way in which people actually learn have rendered many of these conventional approaches and methods outdated and no longer effective - a new bespoke approach to building capability was required.
Our response: The design of a bespoke approach that is underpinned by the principles of human centred design, that connects the process to those leading workforce planning initiatives and balances the needs of both the individual and the organisation equally. To do this, we have drawn on the theory of affective context which suggests that it is individual and environmental context rather than content that determines learning efficacy. In other words, both individuals and organisations act and learn in response to what is considered contextually significant or relevant (their affective context). Identifying and aligning the individual and organisational affective context with relevant capability interventions is central to the development of the capability program that delivers actual business impact.
By purposeful design, we took a different approach to identifying capability needs and designing a capability program. Our approach challenges the assumptions that ‘training’ is the only mechanism to build capability. We learnt first-hand, of the challenges faced by those leading workforce planning (their ‘actualised’ workforce planning experiences) and the necessary support required at the ground level. We also scanned the strategic landscape to discern the current and emerging challenges across the sector, with the view of better understanding the workforce planning capability required now and in the future. From here, we then combined the workforce planning needs of individuals with the requirements at the organisational level while considering the most effective learning intervention based on the ideas of behavioural science and ‘push’ and ‘pull’ learning approaches. In doing so, we have designed a Capability Program that is underpinned by the ideas of agile methodology and action learning - a program with capability interventions that are incremental and iterative, with regular and continuous reviews informing new program iterations.