Your personal learning cloud

Your Personal Learning Cloud

The Harvard Business Review edition of March-April 2019 includes an article about the evolution of leadership development. The authors describe the dynamics of it and how future leadership development will be organized. They also describe the gap between traditional executive education. This gap creates room for more tailored and democratic approaches. For instance, a Personal learning Cloud.

The need for leadership development

Nowadays, we live in a volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain environment. Companies do realize that this environment requires leadership skills and organizational capabilities that differs from what was needed in the past. You can compare it with the rise of the right-brain leaders as described by Daniel Pink in his book ‘A whole new mind’. He mentions that we’re no longer working in a knowledge environment. Instead, we live in a conceptual age that requires creators and emphasizers.

Next to that organizations realize that leadership is not only limited to the C-suite, but is required within all levels of the organization. As former President Obama said: ‘leadership is everyone’s businesses’. Leadership is about knowing the situations in which you can add value, and about curious being able to take action in those situations.

Thirdly, leadership development is part of a lifelong learning.

Root causes of the gaps in traditional executive education

Traditional leadership development approaches no longer meet the needs of the organizations and/or individuals. This is due to three reasons:

  1. Gap in motivations. Organizations, which pay for leadership development, don’t always benefit as much as individual learners do.
  2. Gap between the skills that executive development programs build and those that firms require. Providers don’t offer the soft skills development organizations need. Instead, they are focused on teaching cognitive skills.
  3. Gap in skills transfer. It’s often difficult to apply lessons learned in class to the real world.

Powerful trends in leadership development

The leadership development industry is changing. The traditional players, like business schools, corporate universities and big consultancy firms, are no longer leading per definition. As demand grows for executive education that is customizable, trackable, and measurably effective, ‘competitors’ are emerging. Therefore, the landscape of providers is growing and does exists out of:

  • business schools with open and customized programs;
  • strategic and human resources consultancies;
  • corporate universities;
  • and remote personalized learning platforms.

The personal learning cloud

Because of the growing number of providers within the leadership development industry we are changing towards a tailored and democratic leadership development approach. The article refers to a Personal Learning Cloud (PLC) that is helping to close the gaps in traditional executive education. Such a Personal Learning Cloud includes components like MOOCs (massive open online courses), interactive online content, corporate training, talent management platforms and so on. It is basically a mixture of different forms of education and training. The PLC has four important characteristics:

  1. Learning is personalized because learners can choose what specific practice or course is right for them.
  2. The way of learning is socialized and is for example supported by forums and Q&A sessions.
  3. Learning is contextualized as a PLC allows people to learn in a workplace setting and helping to transfer the things they’ve learned into practice.
  4. Learning outcomes can be transparently tracked and (in some cases) authenticated by providing certificates, diplomas or degrees.

The future of leadership development

So, after we introduced blended learning within traditional leadership development organizations, it is time for the next round of changes. Nowadays, we have to see it from an interorganizational perspective, rather than from an intra-organizational perspective. The need for leadership development won’t be fulfilled by one party, but by multiple providers who offer cherry-picking content, modules and instructors from across the industry.