New Dimensions of Learning

A year ago we encountered a very typical problem in our company, a problem that most companies which are scaling rapidly are encountering and will continue to face with continued people addition. Our problem was to enable effective dissemination of the values and culture of Zensar across 5,000 associates, nearly a 1,000 of whom are located in fourteen countries around the world. All attempts to conduct training programs had met with lukewarm success because of the inability of younger team leaders to deliver the messages with the same passion with which our management council had discussed and crafted the six values and five cultural tenets that were core to our existence and success as an organization.

A chance discussion with film maker Ashok Kaul who had assisted the legendary Raj Kapoor in some of his epic productions threw up an interesting solution. Our training and development group had identified the key problem as one of powerful and credible awareness creation and reinforcement of the concepts learnt not being internalized and embedded in the work styles of the new leaders by the line leadership. Ashok helped us produce a film where a young new joinee actually wanders through the organization, has chance encounters with the CEO and other members of the leadership team and in true guru shishya tradition, gets introduced to the values through anecdotes and situations. This adequately took care of the awareness creation and facilitated workshops-enabled discussion on core values with potential value conflicts between Customer Sovereignty and People Orientation, for example, being discussed across the organization. There was still the need to have reinforcement mechanisms in place. This was done by an animated values game designed on the lines of Monopoly or the trade game where the associate would encounter situations through the roll of a dice and by the time the game finished, would have adequate opportunities to test herself on each of the values.

The use of multiple media has largely strengthened the learning processes in organizations today. Most progressive human resource departments are integrating some form of blended learning mechanisms through multiple media to improve all stages. Research being done around the world shows that apart from the proliferation of video, interactive media and learning management systems, three trends are likely to have significant impact in the future.

First, the growth of gaming will continue to substantially impact learning effectiveness as more and more interactivity is introduced through web and high quality video, simulations and engaging mechanisms that inject more fun and competitiveness into the learning process. Second, the umbilical cord between the learner and the formal classroom environment will be cut through wireless technology and the active use of mobile phones for downloading skills and tests which make time and distance irrelevant in the learning process. And finally, the extensive use of social networking mechanisms like webinars, blogs and Webex or Skype conferencing will ensure that both synchronous and asynchronous interactions between learners and the content experts are enabled.

A new foundation that some of us have createdthe Nataraj Education Foundationis developing skills programs in practical aspects of Global Sourcing in Information Technology and Business Services that could be a worthy add-on to the training of fresh recruits as well as provide the much needed finishing school touch to graduates of technology and management programs desirous of entering the IT and BPO industry.

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