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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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In today’s episode of the EducationNewscast, Roland Deiser and myself discuss the role of learning in business ecosystems.

Roland Deiser is the founder and Chairman of the Executive Corporate Learning Forum (ECLF) and leads the Center for the Future of Organization at the Drucker School of Management.


What is an ecosystem?

The concept of the ecosystem itself is a bit fuzzy. Some define it as a network of partners, others as an umbrella of tools. In fact, there are many definitions. Roland describes the term ecosystem as a value creation network rather than a value chain. It can be referred to as a horizontal approach, a network of co-creation, co-innovation and co-development with a strong dynamic between the stakeholders of the eco system. So basically, it is all about joint value creation.

Ecosystems in the context of learning - Traditional approach

In the learning space, this concept is often driven by the advancements in technology.

For a long time, a central learning department was seen as responsible for training and learning of employees. The main issue with this traditional process is, that there is no real connection between the theoretical knowledge and the application of the knowledge in practice. This is a value chain thinking of learning. And in the end learners learn - and thus need to own learning.

Learning Ecosystems - a modern approach

Now, the focus lies on how learning can be embedded into the everyday processes and thus into the flow of work. How can learning be customized to the individual needs and be delivered just in time at the moment of need and help people become more agile. How can you create passion and an internal, intrisic motivation for learning?

In this context, technology helps to foster and scale, like through transparend easy digital  access to learning experiences. In addition, social technologies enable people to cooperate horizontally e.g. in communities, with the help of social software and collaboratione platforms. This is important as people learn a lot from each other through dialogue and the sharing of experiences.

I also shared the different elements of learning ecosystems at SAP, which includes things like the SAP Learning Hub and its Learning Communities, the SAP Community which formerly was a developer community and other elements like events or programs which mobilize the learning ecosystem.

Tips to drive learning ecosystems in companies

When talking about business ecosystems, it is important to clarify what the strategy and the goal behind this is. Every company has a learning ecosystem - the question is what the purpose & strategy is and how this ecosystem is shapred together with other stakeholders.

It is necessary to identify strategic partners with a strategic fit. If you are striving for agility, it does not make sense to cooperate with a company that relies on bureaucratic processes.

In terms of learning ecosystems, the biggest challenge is that the community needs to undergo a mind shift. It is common that learning & development departments are the center of learning, which is not good for the ecosystem approach. The ownership of learning should rather be with the learners who need to do the daily work, while the role of learning department should change into the direction of serving as an enabler, who provides tools and the required structure which enables the workforce, customers etc. to jointly engage to a learning process and break down boundaries.

Trends and sneak in the future

Learning has never been as important as today as technology is changing in an extremely fast pace. But at the same time, the reputation of learning is still not considered as important as the role of other organizational functions such as IT, who normally get most budget allocated. Very often, learning is buried somewhere deeply inside the HR department.

In order to push the learning ecosystem approach, it is required to go outside the traditional thinking and to also get the learning outside the HR department.

The importance of learning is growing steadily, and leaders need to do whatever is necessary to do in terms of budget allocation and change the way of thinking.

Like always you find the entire talk on the podcast links above. You may also subscribe to the english only podcast channel on Spotify or Apple.

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