Managing to constant significant changes is the new normal for executives of large and mid-sized business enterprises. With the speed of these changes accelerating and showing no signs of slowing, executives need to be way out in front of broader trends that are driving business success and failure.
With a lens polished by my time at CEB and Gartner (and the leaders I called on while working there), I wanted to articulate a few critical pan-industry forces that I suspect many members of the C-suite will have on their radar for 2019 planning.
- Digitization – Can it be overstated how significant this is?
- War for Talent – Low unemployment should continue, making the STEM and other strategic positions even harder to fill. What is the right strategy for keeping and attracting talent?
- New Roles, New Competencies – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Analytics are just a few of the emerging areas that are creating new roles (and displacing others) with competencies that are still being defined.
- New Leadership Styles – With Millennials becoming the most significant worker population, leaders have to lead in new ways that get the millennial’s attention while earning their respect. These new leaders should understand technology, have institutional knowledge, be networked, and be persuasive communicators. Tall order. Plus, with remote worker population surging, this communication skill has to be across all channels.
- Buying and Selling Disruption – How buyers want to purchase continues to morph. Many sellers are not in synch, yet, using outdated and ineffective selling and delivery strategies. The result is missed sales targets and, worse, irritated buyers.
- Execution is Teamwork – Executing well nearly always involves collaboration. Collaboration can be across the aisle or with partners outside the organization. All require new levels of EQ, systems thinking, and collaborative skills not always in rich supply.
- New Learning Vehicles – MOOCs, Bootcamps, Certifications, and other learning channels continue to grow as traditional brick and mortar higher education sorts out their evolving role in providing what the learner market wants and need that addresses employment.
- Ever Present Need for Big Innovations – Speaks for itself. The challenge here is the tension between creating the time needed for innovative thought and our love of efficiency that has us busy back-to-back.
This list is hardly exhaustive, and I’m sure I missed some other key trends (in Finance for example – not something I have directly worked with). Still, nearly all are significantly impacting most businesses today and need to be acknowledged and addressed.
The good news is that the overall business climate remains mostly good, and solutions are being developed and deployed for many of these problems, every day. What’s critical is, are they on your agenda for 2019?
What gets me excited is nearly all of these issues can be directly impacted by personal and corporate Learning and Development. L & D can play a significant role in tackling many of these realities. L & D in our control and many options for it are readily available.
What we see at Coursera are that many executives (learners) are recognizing their own skill gaps in being effective in this “new world” and coming to us, often on their own dime, to get the skills and competencies they need. Software engineers, IT, HR, Sales & Marketing, are just some of the folks tapping into our nearly 3,000 curated deep learning courses.
Additionally, we’re seeing many Large and Mid-Sized Enterprises talking to us about Coursera for Business and taking the lead (and thereby gaining some control) in developing their best employees. This is partly because the legacy model of tuition reimbursement that many organizations offer is wrought with administrative challenges and weak broad adoption.
The other legacy development track, sponsoring a HIPO for graduate school, is not only costly but can also be a risky investment as the low unemployment has many graduates bouncing once the post-degree waiting requirement is fulfilled.
Gallup reports that when companies drive programs that foster “employee well-being” (and development typically does), that well-being ultimately drives performance. And for 2019, or any year, aren’t we all after the better performance for ourselves and our companies?
Jim Stalker has been working with executives of large enterprises for decades and is thrilled to be part of the Coursera for Business team.