In biology, the primary purpose of plasma is to transport proteins and nutrients to critical parts of the body. Now the term “plasma” also has application in enterprise learning and development (L&D). Blood plasma and L&D PLASMA are similar concepts in the way they refortify their host organizations with the material and energy they need to survive and flourish.
Using this analogy, David Perring, Research Director, Fosway Group, presented PLASMA during a November 8 webinar, co-hosted by Lumesse. PLASMA is based on a series of steps organizations can employ to address traditional L&D shortcomings and achieve next generation learning management and learner experiences. These individual steps include Planning, Learning, Applying, Sustaining, Measuring, and Analyzing.
While we all recognize that today’s workforces are changing, the scope and complexity of these changes are underrated.
Drivers of Change
Changing worker demographics – Today’s workforce consists of approximately 50 percent Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, and 50 percent Gen Y (Millennials), with Gen Z on the way. Traditional one-size-fits-all talent management and L&D practices are no longer sufficient for this heterogeneous workforce. Learning needs to be delivered in nonlinear ways to address different learner needs and levels of tech-savviness at different points in time. It needs to be a cycle of planning, learning, measuring, etc.
Changing worker expectations – It’s not all about salary anymore. Fosway research revealed 69 percent of employees emphasizing personal and professional development as a key employer attribute, and 64 percent looking for career progression. Sixty-three percent of employees want to use the latest technologies, 62 percent are looking for flexible working hours, and 58 percent want a progressive and dynamic organizational culture.
Evolving ways of working – We are connecting to work in much more diverse ways, Perring said. In Fosway’s survey, “Learning, Talent and the Modern Workforce,” 45 percent of respondents reported working often in diverse teams, 68 percent working with virtual technology, 55 percent using collaboration and social media tools, and 44 percent of employees working primarily using mobile devices. These factors are turning into two-week work sprints, which might explain why we need to learn so much so quickly. A whopping 67 percent of firms reported their employees need to learn faster.
Modern forms of learning content – Many of today’s learners also crave learning content in the form of video, mobile, and user-generated content. The ability to stream high-quality videos is no longer a blocker, so organizations should offer this more immersive medium in geographically distributed, bite-sized, just-in-time (JIT) doses. Blended learning should be part of the mix as well, to provide traditional learning approaches, such as classroom instruction and one-to-one coaching.
Technology and digital transformation facilitate learning. People download Web videos of the songs and movie scenes they wish to experience all the time. This familiarity and potential for engagement is a large part of the appeal of consumer-borne learning content. In addition, AI and personalization algorithms can be used to ensure timely and relevant L&D content delivery at an individual level. Also contributing to more-agile L&D processes are customer-design concepts such as Scrum, Kanban, sprints, and iterative development.
PLASMA, a Lifeblood for Learning
Fosway’s David Perring explained the PLASMA acronym’s various components in the following way:
Plan establishes what a person needs to know, understand, and be able to do. It encompasses a personal development agenda, prescribed learning journey, required career path, and a component of “act now,” via instant access, quick search and chat.
Learn determines where a person can gain knowledge, develop a skill, and build proficiencies. This step provides flexible offerings for people across time zones, with on-the-job, bite-sized and JIT for productive application of the learning.
Apply relates to how well a person is using his or her learning. Self-directed learning programs, observation and feedback, collaboration and on-the-job application empower employees to use the learning when they need it so they understand the lesson’s context to the job or a career path.
Sustain is the step to consistently achieve the right level of skill and performance. It involves ongoing coaching, JIT support, automation and AI to help your time-strapped managers.
Measure has been a challenging step in L&D. How well is the learner doing, is he or she off-target, and how effective is the L&D department? This step should include KPIs, periodic assessment, task and competency assessment from managers, customers and peers, manager assessments, and the evaluation of quality. Analytical dashboards as part of an LMS can help your L&D department, managers and learners stay on course.
Analysis looks at where the learner might go next. This process should encompass automated recommendations, professional review, coaching review, and manager review.
An LMS platform that supports PLASMA will provide a more agile learning framework and an ideal environment for next gen learning experiences. However, learning, no matter how fun or “gamified,” can be a turnoff without career development. This makes a case for an enterprise system in which talent management and L&D are integrated.
Career paths are more than learning, Perring said. “It’s really important to have a sense of career progression. When employees don’t see a career path, they usually leave,” he said.
For a deeper dive into this topic, listen to the replay of the webinar, "Building the Next Gen Learning Experience."