Agile Human Resources – The Future of Learning and Development

Agile Human Resources – The Future of Learning and Development

“In the future, learning should be understood as a continuous process to which a certain amount of time and financial budget is dedicated. After all, those who see learning as a project could run the risk of losing valuable time between projects and the learning projects themselves losing relevance even before they have been completed.

Mag. Gunther Fürstberger, CEO of MDI Management Development International.

The current times promote the change to agile human resources development. Home office and LXPs (Learning Experience Platforms) make it possible and necessary. Human resources development controlled training programs with a transfer concept will continue to exist, but no longer as a core element, but as a supplement to a development concept that starts with the learner.

Development programs and learning transfer belong to the “waterfall view” of projects. Learning was seen as a project with a project goal and transfer had to be included in this project. The project was successful if what was learned was put into practice.

Google, Youtube, Netflix have in the meantime made demand-oriented, customized and up-to-date learning possible. If I want to know how to get rid of neck muscle tension or how to change the wheel of my micro scooter, I get instant offers on the Internet. Many programs learn along and suggest what I will need next.

Agile methods such as Scrum or OKR (Objective and Key Results) are based on the principle that in regular, rather shorter intervals we check where we stand and where we want to go. With OKR, goals are set regularly for the next 3 months and worked on continuously.

All hands OKR meeting

This year OKR proved to be a great method to overcome crisis situations. Never has it been more important to adjust continually to a dynamic environment.

The same principle applies to Learning & Development (L&D):

For example, once a quarter we check on the basis of target-oriented competences:

  • Where do we stand? – review
  • and again set new learning targets – Outlook

1. Outlook – New Learning Targets

The target competences are defined by the learner and often the manager, supported by the human resources development department. The learner knows best what he needs now. At the same time, human resources development can ensure that important core competences are considered in the Learning Experience Platform. If the Learning Experience Platform has artificial intelligence, the learner is given learning suggestions based on his past search queries.

The new learning objectives can be defined, e.g.:

  • As target values on scales ranging from 1 – 10 and representing the desired level of competence
  • As result descriptions, such as “I can jump 1.80 m from a standing position”.

During the quarter, different a-synchronous and synchronous learning offers are available to the learner:

  • A-synchronous: e-learning from inside and outside the company. The LXP “crawls” the Internet and accesses paid and free educational offers
  • Synchronous: face-to-face events and virtual measures such as webinars, master classes, etc.

2. Review – Where do we stand? 

For the retrospective, we use simple or more complex diagnostic procedures, such as self-assessment, impulse feedback from others or even test methods. It promotes motivation if the learning path is made visible over the quarters. Gamifying the entire learning path with bonus games, treasure hunts and continuous feedback will contribute to the joy of learning, especially among younger people.

The company can provide the learner with a budget and/or draw up a plan, discussing which measures will be charged with the manager.

Learning as a continuous process

Since many things are constantly changing anyway, learning is understood as a continuous process to which a certain amount of time and financial budget is devoted. If there is a lot of change, more change is needed. But if you see learning as a project, you could run the risk of losing valuable time between projects and the learning projects themselves losing their relevance even before they have been completed.


In summary, this results in the following paradigm shift:

  • The learner takes over decision-making competence about learning contents and methods from the human resources development department.
  • Continuous iteration of learning goals and content replaces the previous waterfall learning project view
  • Learning effectiveness gains importance at the expense of learning transfer
  • Self-learning search algorithms become a constant learning companion

Summary: Keeping it Short & Sweet

    • Learner instead of human resources development as designer
    • Iteration instead of learning project
    • Learning effectiveness instead of learning transfer
    • Search algorithms instead of learning plan

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