Interaction with Josh Bersin on Learning & Development

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Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst, Founder and Dean The Josh Bersin Academy.

Josh founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. Over the next ten years, he expanded the company’s coverage to encompass HR, talent management, talent acquisition, and leadership and became a recognized expert in the talent market.  He sold the company to Deloitte in 2012, when it became known as Bersin™ by Deloitte.  Since then he has launched The Josh Bersin Academy™, a global learning and career Academy dedicated to building forward-looking HR skills around the world.  He also sits on the board of UC Berkeley Haas Business School Executive Education and advises some of the fastest growing technology companies in the HR and workforce management markets.

Bersin is frequently featured in talent and business publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, HR Executive, FastCompany, The Wall Street Journal, and CLO Magazine

Prior to founding Bersin & Associates, Josh spent 25 years in product development, product management, marketing, and sales of e-learning and other enterprise technologies. His education includes a BS in engineering from Cornell University, an MS in engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. 

He is the author of two books, The Blended Learning Handbook and The Training Measurement Book, along with dozens of studies on corporate HR, learning, and talent technologies. He is currently finishing a third book, entitled “Irresistible,” on 21st century management and the new rules for employee engagement with Harvard Business Publishing.

Q- You are Global Industry Analyst, Thought Leader, Founder of Bersin by Deloitte and board member of many top ranked global companies & universities. Recently you have also introduced “The Josh Bersin Academy” after retirement from Deloitte. Tell us how you were able to shape your Career Journey? And what is vision and mission of The Josh Bersin Academy?

I’ve spent the last 20 years of my career as an industry analyst, researcher, and consultant in all areas of HR, HR technology, leadership, and future of work. This has given me tremendous perspective on the economy and how all the various workplace and workforce issues have changed business. After building a research company which we sold to Deloitte in 2012, I spent 7 years at Deloitte as a partner. In May of 2018 I retired from Deloitte and have started something even more exciting – the Josh Bersin Academy, which I call “The Global Professional Development Academy for HR.”

Our goal with the Academy is to respect the tremendous pace of change in work, workplace, and HR and put together a series of development programs, resources, best-practices, tools, and a vibrant community focus on continuously developing the skills and knowledge needed among HR teams. My research shows that almost 45% of all HR organizations are going through their own internal transformation and our goal is to help them transform “from the inside out” – by developing their people.

The Academy is built as an integrated learning experience, and is priced at a very affordable rate so individuals and organizations can join and stay members throughout their career. We are developing 10-15 flagship programs each year, we already have over 150 different learning resources and micro learning offerings, and we are actively developing a next generation competency model for HR professionals. And we offer an enterprise edition which can be totally customized for any large company. I’m very excited about it and this is a platform that enables me to share all I’m learning with the entire global profession.  You can join at https://bersinacademy.com

Q- What is new to HR and L&D? What would you look for in candidates while hiring for Chief Learning Officer?

Many many things are new – the biggest is that skills and training are now CEO level issues, so we need to simultaneously build on-demand “in the flow of work” learning as well as accreditation and academy level learning in companies. It is now far cheaper to train people than to hire on the outside, so the economics of L&D are very different – investment in L&D is now a huge ROI opportunity for companies. 

Companies need CLOs who are seasoned L&D professionals, highly attuned to new technologies and platforms, and very familiar with culture and organizational change. I’ve never seen the CLO role as important as it is now, so this is a huge opportunity for individuals and leaders to step up and drive these new strategies in companies.

Q- In your opinion, what are the top challenges faced by L&D leaders today and how to solve them?

As I mentioned above, there are many.  A few include:

  • Developing a “learning in the flow of work” strategy that lets people learn as needed on demand
  • Modernizing the L&D infrastructure and moving beyond the decade old LMS platforms
  • Leveraging advanced media and content management to create more engaging learning experiences
  • Unlocking subject matter experts to author learning and share internally
  • Building skills academies that drive deep skills in digital domains and empower experts
  • Creating a culture of “growth mindset” and continuous learning that supports the agile way companies operate today.

Q- There is no denying the fact that technology has completely changed the Learning Process all over the world. What is digital learning to you and its disruptions?  

I call it “learning in the flow of work,” and involve clearly defining “micro learning” and “macro learning” and all this entails. It means upgrading the L&D tech infrastructure and learning how to author content at the line level, support advanced search and taxonomies, and use design thinking to build more relevant learning programs. It means building a culture of collaborative learning and unlocking peer to peer sharing. And it means creating a digital mindset so the L&D department can use agile approaches to build solutions quickly, iterate, and measure their impact immediately.

Q- Companies have realized that they simply cannot find the skills in workforce to achieve the goals they have set; they have to reinvest in corporate training and build learning culture. How to develop learning culture and a future ready L&D strategy in organizations?

We’ve done many studies of this and I’d say culture is driven by three things. First, CEO and line leaders have to have a growth mindset (the buzz word of the day). This means letting people talk about mistakes, listening, and becoming an avid “listener” not “teller.”  Second it means building a set of reward systems that encourage managers and individuals to take time to learn. The biggest challenge to learning is time: we need to give people space and opportunities to learn, regardless of the tech infrastructure. Third is the need to create tools and systems that show people “what” to learn, engage them in the future skills companies need, and give them career tools and mobility so they can aspire to grow, take on new jobs, and new roles.  If people don’t feel they can use the new skills they develop they will go elsewhere.

Q- There has been a paradigm shift in learning and development in past few years. What is your take on the future of L&D?

It’s becoming “in the flow” more every day, but also more rigorous, technology and data driven, and agile. Everything that’s happening to marketing and communications is also happening to learning.

Q- Any concluding remarks?

It’s an exciting time to be in HR and L&D. I encourage organizations to experiment with new tools, hire young people who love to build and create, and try new approaches. Employees are hungry for new ways to learn, as long as you’re agile and can move fast you can build things that really drive change in your company.

Thank You Josh!

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Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst, Founder and Dean The Josh Bersin Academy. He founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. Over the next ten years, he expanded the company’s coverage to encompass HR, talent management, talent acquisition, and leadership and became a recognized expert in the talent market. He sold the company to Deloitte in 2012, when it became known as Bersin™ by Deloitte. Since then he has launched The Josh Bersin Academy™, a global learning and career Academy dedicated to building forward-looking HR skills around the world.

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