Top 3 Takeaways From CrossKnowledge Next 2019
by Samra Anees
Last week, I attended CrossKnowledge Next 2019 in Paris, France. It was a busy day with several keynotes and insightful breakout sessions centered around the digital learning market. CrossKnowledge also announced its new offering, CK Connect, which I’ll discuss in this blog.
This blog covers my top 3 takeaways from CrossKnowledge Next 2019.
1. Don’t Treat Soft Skills Like They’re Hard Skills
Learning Scientist Todd Maddox kicked off the morning keynotes with a session on the Neuroscience of Learning. He talked about the inherent differences between hard skills and people skills (aka ‘soft skills’). Hard skills are about knowledge and information, while people skills are about behavior and emotion, e.g. what we do, how we do it, and our intent. Furthermore, these 2 types of skills are learned by different structures in the brain.
In the workforce today, L&D departments usually do a good job at training for hard skills, but the challenge is that the requirement for hard skills is constantly changing. What isn’t focused on is people skills, which Todd argued were more important now than ever given how difficult it is to keep up with the ever-changing hard skills. And while certain learning methods, such as microlearning, are successful in teaching hard skills, the same learning methods are not successful in teaching people skills. For this reason, Todd emphasized the importance of prioritizing people skills just as much if not more than hard skills, and the need for personalized learning paths that could teach these people skills.
This session highlighted important points about skills acquisition in today’s workforce. Today, there is a heavy focus on racing to gain more hard or technical skills, but this results in a lack of focus on people skills. The need for hard skills is always changing, but people skills will always be applicable in every role and make employees more valuable. Enterprises need to give importance to both types of skills while understanding that the 2 types of skills are not the same, and shouldn’t be taught in the same way.
2. We Need to Reprioritize in Learning
Another insightful session was Amanda Nolen’s discussion on the digital learning transformation. Amanda talked about how the average lifespan of skills today is 3-5 years. Money is pumped into leadership training but doesn’t yield ROI. As a result, there is a hire-fire-hire culture that has cultivated which we need to change. Part of this change is that people skills (which she also referred to as ‘power skills’) are taking the lead and focusing on what humans can do.
Amanda’s talk focused on the reprioritization of L&D to make it more effective. Today, L&D is slow and rigid—when there is a need for a skill, by the time it reaches L&D, it’s too late. But what if L&D was as quick to respond to learning needs as the media is to news? Amanda provided 3 key pieces of advice for learning solutions: first, that L&D’s goal should not be to respond to every emergency, but rather strategically prioritize an organization’s needs. Furthermore, “platforms should be a stethoscope, not a megaphone,” meaning that learning platforms should respond to a need, not just keep pushing excess of content. And finally, L&D should be proactive by using data insights, not just react to these insights.
The takeaway from this session was an important one for the learning market—often, L&D departments funnel money into learning platforms and tools, but aren’t prescribing clear goals or reaching outcomes. Platforms aren’t a solution, they’re a means to an end, so it’s important to strategize and prioritize the goals of a platform and how best to achieve them. Having the technology isn’t enough, it’s also—if not more—important to understand what to do with it.
3. Sneak Peek of CK Connect
Finally, one of the biggest takeaways of the Next 2019 was CrossKnowledge’s announcement of its new product offering CK Connect, launching in January 2020. CK Connect is a new skill-building solution that personalizes the experience for each individual by taking data about their personality into account. The goal of CK Connect is to connect managers, learners, and L&D leaders by helping them to discover how they relate to people on their team. The system not only personalizes learning paths for individuals based on their personality, but also can compare personality types between team members, showing possible sources of frustration, how each person approaches relationships, how they can work on projects together, and more.
While we already see a learning paths feature by persona in learning platforms today, taking it deeper by incorporating personality is a new approach for this market. While some may find the personality feature useful, others will be critical about the validity of the personality test being the basis of the offering. It will be interesting to see how this offering performs in the market after its rollout in January.
CrossKnowledge Next 2019 was an insightful event that featured deep dives into the science behind learning, how the digital learning market is transforming, and introduced a new and innovative product offering by CrossKnowledge. CrossKnowledge is taking a fresh approach to skills acquisitions, and it will be interesting to see how the learning market responds.