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Learning and Development Strategy for 2024: How will AI and Skills effect your organisation?

Published on
March 1, 2024
A businessman in a suit is sitting at a wooden desk with a computer; behind the desk is an explosion of different brightly coloured pigments mid-air. It represents ideas and possibilities for AI in this image generated using Midjourney AI.
Charlie Kneen

2024 will be the year of “AI” and the “skills-based organisation”. Here are my brief thoughts on both. I offer suggestions and strategies for success.

AI - Artificial Intelligence?

The short version is that AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. To begin with, AI requires human training on gigantic databases. It simulates intelligence, but ultimately, the (current) technology cannot stray from its programming. AI is, therefore, both a risk and a boon. Like all tools, human beings have control over whether AI is used for good or evil. 

In our L&D industry, the mindset is still very much educational. The goal is to “transfer knowledge” or content from one person’s head to another – that’s not how our brains work, and there’s plenty of research to back that up. The challenge is that technology is the basis of our understanding of complex systems, and the computer is still the most complex thing we can get our heads around. Computers are binary – zeros and ones – human beings are not. There’s an ever-present irony in the expectation that humans should behave more like machines and machines more like humans.  

A businessman in a suit is sitting at a wooden desk with a computer; behind the desk is an explosion of different brightly coloured pigments mid-air. It represents ideas and possibilities for AI in this image generated using Midjourney AI.
Created with Midjourney AI
Prompt: a businessman sits in front of a laptop on a meeting his back is to the camera. He is amazed by what's on the screen. A colourful, immersive explosion of colour.

How to get your L&D team ready for AI

In my opinion, the best place to start with AI is to understand data. Employees in many corporate businesses conduct most of their work on computers. So, it’s possible to track and analyse what people are doing and how they are doing it in many cases. The significant hurdles to overcome relate to ethics and privacy. Like your own government, there’s a trade-off between insight and snooping. So, the goal for 2024 should be to hire or develop your data capabilities – give someone the task of setting up, gathering, analysing and storytelling around employee data. From here, you can focus on how to support colleagues’ performance in their workflow. With this knowledge, you can identify the experiences you need to provide to develop, engage and manage people in your organisation.

“Skills-based organization”

What is a skill? How does it differ from a behaviour? Can a mindset be a skill? What about skills you can’t see, such as Active Listening? How does one earn a skill? Can a skill be lost or become degraded over time? Etc., etc. Address these questions when thinking about a skills-based organisation. At Solvd Together, we’ve done some of the thinking for you and can help you avoid the age-old trap of procuring technology to solve an ill-defined problem.

If you work backwards, skills frameworks are usually implemented to help manage people’s performance and career journeys. They come down to a conversation between manager and employee about the value the individual adds to an organisation, their ability to acquire new capabilities, and ultimately, their pay. Most performance is managed through performance reviews, so a framework’s utility is in its application in this context. Sadly, most L&D teams miss this component and focus on deploying skills frameworks that aren’t practical, measurable or “evidence-able”. The best frame of reference for a “skills-based organisation” is that it’s the respectable face of badges – like in the Scouts or Girl Guides. It’s a gamification system with lots of practical holes – some people will love it, some will game the system, and others will scoff at it or ignore it completely.

As an aside, in consultancies where I’ve worked for many years, people are already measured and “sold” based on their skills. Whilst that might seem like the perfect use-case for a skills-based organisation, the reality is that projects tend to be resourced based on who a leader knows and trusts rather than a data-driven decision using a selection of candidate profiles.

A desk with a cutting board, measuring tape, scissors, and various tools prepared to build a prototype for clients
An example of the unexpected skills at Solvd - we fabricated practical prototypes ourselves to address a client need where a digital solution would not have been the right solution

How to get your L&D team ready for a skills-based organization

View your skills-based organisation as a system; integrate new features properly like any system. If you have the dream of a skills-based organisation, L&D needs to review, adapt and consult on the following: 

  • Performance review cycles. 
  • The quality of performance reviews. 
  • Job roles and expectations. 
  • Bonus and renumeration “triggers”.
  • The development strategy for different roles in the organisation.
  • The structure of the data that goes in, i.e., the framework.
  • The user experience of the data that goes out, i.e., where it is used and how.
  • How the team’s strategy relates to the people and company strategies.
  • And much more! 

These areas are not all typically in the domain of the L&D team but are required if you expect the skill-based organisation concept to work out. In my experience, the best way to build the capability to consult on these areas is to do research. Speak to lots of people who control these domains and provide a clear vision (a visual diagram) for how they will work together as a system and deliver value to the organisation.  

2024 will be a year led by technological advancement. Success this year will be in your L&D team’s ability to understand your organisation as a system and recognise how key trends will affect ways of working and performance management.  

Several rows of playing cards are setup on a table. A person's hand is hovering over the table, they are about to select a card
Just one example of how Solvd have used play to enable leadership skills development