The Enterprise of the Future: What Does it Mean for Training?


IBM interviewed over 1,000 CEOs and asked them what the enterprise of the future will look like.  What IBM discovered, and recently published in a study,  is that future organizations will be even more dependent on collaborative global teams to drive innovation.  In the opening letter, IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano says:

“A focus on innovation works. That is also evident in this year’s study results. Those of you who are making the boldest plays — pursuing the most global, collaborative and disruptive business model innovation — are outperforming your peers.”

The study identifies several key trends that will shape the enterprise of the future.  These trends are fascinating from a leadership development perspective because they give us insight into the skills and capabilities required of successful future leaders:

  • Change is accelerating.  Technology is driving change, but the gap between the pace of change and the ability of the organization to manage change is accelerating even faster.  This means future leaders must not only embrace change, but recognize that change will increase throughout their careers.  For training departments, it is no longer enough to offer a series of courses or learning events.  Employees require learning environments where self-directed learning can occur throughout one’s career.
  • Collaboration is driving innovation.  Forty percent (40%) of organizations are evolving their enterprise business models to be more collaborative.  The ability to collaborate with others, especially on global and virtual teams will drive future success for leaders.  This trend is increasing the importance of developing emotional intelligent leaders who can effectively work with others to achieve results.
  • Global integration is increasing.  Businesses are reconfiguring around global integration.  Work is naturally migrating to the locales where it is most cost-effectively produced.  Successful organizations are taking advantage of this on a global scale by integrating their business across geographic and functional boundaries.  For leaders to be successful in this environment they must enhance their cultural and organizational understanding and address challenges with a global business mind-set.  This trend is increasing the importance of inclusion in the workplace.  Global leaders value diverse opinions, backgrounds and ideas.

Taken together, these trends paint a picture of the enterprise of the future, which IBM describes having five characteristics:

  1. Hungary for change.
  2. Innovative beyond customer imagination
  3. Globally integrated
  4. Disruptive by nature
  5. Genuine, not just generous

Our challenge as leadership development professionals is to create environments and tools that help employees gain the critical leadership skills to be successful in the enterprise of the future.  In order to do this, we need to practice continuous process improvement and apply these prinicples to our learning departments.  By measuring our results, holding our learners and ourselves accountable and constantly looking for incremental improvements, training departments will evolve over time to effectively support the future enterprise.

The 5A’s Framework is a great tool to use when assessing your training departments current level of effectiveness, and to guide you as you transform your department to meet the learning challenges of the future.

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