Mark Lewis Discusses the Post-COVID-19 State of Learning

Lewis is a panelist participating in CLN’s L&D Leadership in a Time of Great Change

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The Corporate Learning Network is preparing for its very first virtual conference: L&D Leadership in a Time of Great Change. The event, scheduled for July 14 and 15, promises to engage Chief Learning Officers, learning and development leaders and Chief Strategy Officers in conversation about topics related to thriving in a post-COVID-19 business environment.

Leading up to the event, Corporate Learning Network Editorial Manager Mason Stevenson will be interviewing speakers about various topics and getting a feel for their perspective on the corporate learning world now and how it will survive in the future.

One such speaker is Mark Lewis, Senior Director–Head of Learning and Development at Delek US Holdings, Inc.

State of Learning

The Post-COVID-19 World 

Mason Stevenson:
If you were giving a post COVID-19 “State of Learning” address to a room full of learning leaders, how would you describe the landscape?

Mark Lewis: 

We are at a pivotal moment. COVID-19 brought disruption to almost every major industry and caused a major paradigm shift in how senior executives view "how" and most importantly "where" employees work.

This has led to a transformation in business and organizational models in most industries, and those companies who were reluctant to embrace remote work are now scrambling to implement technologies and processes to adapt. 

This paradigm shift requires organizational learning agility since the companies who emerge from this pandemic stronger than before will be those able to adapt quickly and learn faster than their peers.

This provides an enormous opportunity for learning leaders but also poses a lot of challenges. On one hand, we have the opportunity to align learning to develop the skillsets necessary for leading virtual teams, working remotely and new process improvement/productivity initiatives. These are all paramount for success and demonstrate a clear linkage between L&D and the business with quantifiable impact.

On the other hand, we need to be cautious on what I will term "drive-through" learning. "Drive-through" learning is the result of pressure from our stakeholders to move some/all previous learning courses and programs to e-learning and video conferencing as a result of lockdowns and minimal office staffing. 

In most cases, this “drive-through” learning isn’t aligned to business goals or needs, but merely is an attempt to keep employees “busy” since they aren’t in the office and managers don't trust their employees to manage their schedules and stay productive.  

This puts L&D professionals in a bad position since we know what we’re doing is more than likely ineffective, not engaging and not value-added. 

Additionally, e-learning course development and virtual facilitation/production are skills not present in all L&D teams in more conservative industries. As a result, learners must suffer through poorly produced webinars and PowerPoint-based e-learning modules.

This is truly an exciting time for us; it's the time for us to LEAD the change, INFLUENCE our business partners to ensure the right outcomes and drive this transformation.

Mason Stevenson:
Number one challenge facing learning leaders right now? What’s the solution(s)?

Mark Lewis:
In my industry (oil and gas) it’s drastically reduced budgets and reductions in headcount (contractors and FTEs). The solution is to ensure we’re always demonstrating the value and impact we provide, so that we don’t become the first casualty for budget cuts because the business doesn’t see our impact to the bottom line.

Mason Stevenson:
Number one strategy all learning leaders must apply? And why?

Mark Lewis:
Speak the language of the business. When we speak in HR/L&D speak, we’re not speaking in a language business leaders understand. If they don’t understand us, why listen to us?

Mason Stevenson:
From your perspective, what are the top three learning technologies?

Mark Lewis:

  1. Video
  2. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
  3. Artificial Intelligence

Mason Stevenson:
From your perspective, what does the future of learning look like for companies/organizations?

Mark Lewis:
The future of learning is less classroom and more structured on-the-job, performance support and virtual learning. Learning will become more on-demand versus scheduled learning programs. Technology will help improve analytic capability and enhance the learning experience.

Lastly, learning will not be tied to an LMS like today but consist of an “ecosystem” of technologies, tools and capabilities to drive and support employee performance.

Mason Stevenson:
How should learning leaders transform now to meet the needs of the future of learning and the future workforce it will support?

Mark Lewis:
Transition from a traditional “training” mindset to a mindset of performance.

Mason Stevenson:
Number one book every learning professional should read?

Mark Lewis:
It’s a tie. The Business of Learning – David Vance, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning – Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson & Calhoun Wick, and Performance Consulting – Dana Robinson, James Robinson, Dick Handshaw and Jack and Patti Phillips.

L&D Leadership in a Time of Great Change 

Most seasoned learning and development executives have been through economic crises before. They know the agony before the organization adapts and bounces back.

Yet in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, the collapse in business activity is far more severe than in previous recessions. That's the reality.

That’s the focus of our first vitrual conference: L&D Leadership in a Time of Great Change. The event itself and accompanying webinars are designed to help learning leaders navigate through uncharted waters. To learn from the best. To avoid expensive trial-and-error learning.

Why attend this virtual conference? You'll hear case studies, winning strategies and evidence-based results from strategic management leaders & learning executives charged with the awesome responsibility of managing L&D in today's new business climate.

The virtual conference is free-to-attend and is open for registration. It begins at 12 pm EST on July 14 & 15. To learn more about the event, see the premiere speaking faculty, get access to pre-event content and to register for the event, click here.