Learning to change – skill up for business transformation now

Skill up for business transformation now

Is your workforce ready to drive business transformation? Forward-thinking organisations are harnessing learning and development strategies to be ready for profitable change, says Mike Falvey.

Partner, People Powered Performance

KPMG in the UK


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  • The world of business is changing with ever-increasing speed and complexity
  • Organisations need the right talent to respond and transform
  • HR teams need to identify the gaps in their workforce’s capacity and skills
  • Learning and development strategies play a key role in operational change
  • Data and technology can redefine talent to drive transformation


Evolving global markets, disruptive technologies, major demographic shifts and rapidly changing regulations are just some of the forces driving change at a pace that is considerably faster and more complex than ten years ago. 

But maximising the opportunities to transform remains a significant hurdle for many organisations. According to the latest KPMG Global Transformation Study, one in three CEOs (33%) say they have failed to achieve the value they anticipated from transformation initiatives. 

The most common barrier to success identified by CEOs in the report is a failure to recognise the scale of operating model changes necessary to affect transformation across the organisation. Overcoming this barrier means creating a culture where employees expect and embrace change – and have the required skillsets to evolve.

Failure to do so risks losing out to the competition, hampered by outdated skills, productivity shortfalls and a workforce that struggles to perform.

Re-skilling for tomorrow today

In recent years we have seen many companies fail by waiting for change to happen to them instead of planning for it. The Learning & Development (L&D) function has a key role to play in this planning process, identifying skills gaps and creating the right environment to nurture new expertise within the workforce.

Increasingly, L&D will need to adopt a strategic approach to people development, one that is tightly designed to equip the workforce with the skills and capabilities needed to support transformation and deliver growth objectives. 

As such, having the right talent in place to lead, manage and support transformation is a challenge that businesses must start to anticipate and address now. L&D will play a vital role in equipping existing team members with the new skills and capabilities required to effect meaningful change.

Data-driven innovation

A major trigger of transformational change – technology – is itself a significant catalyst for change in the workforce. According to KPMG’s Global Transformation Study, organisations with data and analytics integrated into their operating models can respond more quickly to constantly evolving marketplace dynamics.

This means senior executives need to build agility into their workforces, formalising ways to train and re-train talent to embed ‘tech-savvy’ insight and innovation as the necessary skill-sets evolve. Speed is of the essence. The faster the enterprise moves, the easier it is to turn analytical insight into opportunity. 

The digital imperative

The sheer pace of the digital revolution can also leave organisations struggling to respond if they don’t anticipate such change for their business. In the UK supermarket sector, not every retailer has been able to exploit the shift to online delivery models, leaving them exposed without a solid offer to rival their competitors.

Agents of change

It can be impossible to predict with complete accuracy how any market will develop, but the L&D function cannot afford to be slow to respond to changing priorities. 

Of course, learning to thrive on change means more than quick reaction times to data-driven insight. Without clarity, direction and support, change can lead to lack of certainty and motivation. L&D can boost morale, giving employees a sense of progress and purpose during times of change. By developing new skills and seeing opportunities to grow, people will feel more involved and supportive of the transformation and excited about its goals.

The future might be unclear, but don’t keep learning and development on hold. Redefining your talent is essential for transformational success.

Learning and development

Learning and development

Rapid and complex change in the business environment means new challenges for boards and HR directors.

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