learning and development

Learning And Development: Role Of Leadership In Learning

Many years ago at a networking event, a senior HR leader and I were talking about the learning governance platform that we had successfully established in my then organisation. The other person could not appreciate its value and wondered why the same was needed. As a passionate HR specialist, her point of view was that HR should understand business so well that there is no need to involve business in learning.

Several years later, I see that this opinion is still held by some, who believe that the HR function is responsible for all things learning, and needs little or no input from business leaders. There is no question that HR should know what the organisation needs; I personally believe that HR is as much a business function like manufacturing, sales or finance and a good understanding of the business is a rudimentary capability needed by all corporate professionals.

Leadership and learning

Why is it so important for senior leaders in the business to be invested in learning and development? A simple answer is that, if the deliverable expected out of learning is a business impact (and not just number of programmes or training hours), then that cannot happen without the involvement of business.

To elaborate more, no matter how precise or deep your knowledge of business is, you are still holding just one piece of the pie and there are other critical stakeholders holding the other pieces. A successful learning agenda can emerge only when all the perspectives are taken into consideration; a holistic picture can evolve only when knowledge from all the stakeholders are integrated. If learning’s key customer is business, it is mandatory that the customer’s perspectives are baked into the plan.

The involvement of senior leadership should not be limited to defining the learning agenda; it needs to be seen across all the critical steps of the learning value chain, implementation, review and evaluating impact if learning needs to be a business enabler and deliver business impact.
In today’s VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world, everything is changing fast, including organizational capabilities needed to succeed.

In this context, HR maven Prabir Jha articulates powerfully what a business enabling learning function should be doing as follows,

The focus of a strategic learning function is not about building individual capabilities but that of building organisational capacities and being a business enabler.

The Association of Talent Development (ATD) considers this very important which is reflected in their annual, very famous and prestigious study on identification of best learning organisations. The criteria for selecting winners include: learning has an enterprise-wide role, has value in the organisation’s culture, links to individual and organisational performance etc. All of these underpin leadership involvement.

It is a known and accepted fact that a major part of learning happens outside the classroom. 70:20:10 is a structured framework that emphasizes this. This a well-known reference framework which says that roughly 70% of all learning happens on the job, 20% through social interactions and developmental relationships like coaching and mentoring and 10% of learning is derived from structured efforts like classroom training and e-learning. While L&D needs to play a key role with respect to guiding the 70 and 20, the bigger role in this is that of employees and their managers.

Needless to say, that leadership involvement is needed to drive this seamlessly.

Some thoughts on how learning happens on a continuous basis and what learning professionals need to do to support the same by Jane Hart, proponent and expert on Modern Work Learning practices (MWL).

Creating value and enabling business

At Cipla University, leadership involvement is one of our five guiding principles and is an integral part of our learning strategy. Cipla University’s Functional Academies are owned and run by respective functions with a senior leader taking the accountability for the same. L&D offers guidance and support with respect to areas like learning technology, instructional design along with defining and ensuring adherence to learning processes. The functional academies are designed to function not just as learning providers, but as value creators for business. The same is facilitated by ensuring every other aspect of the ecosystem like processes, technology, manager support is in place. All of this becomes easily possible since the academies are owned by the business. Also, senior leaders in the domain contribute to the design, implementation and review of the agenda on a regular basis.

Perspectives of Dr Kirit Ladge who offers oversight to our R&D Academy –

R&D Academy under the aegis of Cipla University has been a great initiative. Anchoring the Academy has been a great experience for me. It has given me an opportunity to shape up Cipla’s future by taking technical capabilities in R&D to a new level.

Also sharing some viewpoints from Senior Sales Leader Mr Kunal Khanna who offers leadership to our Sales & Marketing Academy.

Often the only benchmark pharma companies have to measure performance is sales target. However, this cannot be the only focus for companies looking to grow & develop. Our teams need to know which skills can help them improve performance and understand behaviours which are valued, recognized and rewarded.

As part of our Sales Academy set-up, we are investing in formal learning and training mechanisms to increase the effectiveness of our sales managers and creating a culture of structured learning in line with business priorities and role requirements. In-fact Sales Academy has been one of the most important enablers of our India business transformation and has successfully driven capability building agenda aligned with SFE and Therapy priorities.

As part of our phase 2 rollout, we are also initiating role-based training interventions and enrich the learning experience through gamified mobile-based learning application. While it has been an enriching experience for me and the team, what’s most encouraging is the acceptance and involvement of the business.

Delivering Breakthrough learning

Cipla University has defined the six disciplines of breakthrough learning as its design framework and diligently adheres to it. This has been a game changer for us and has generated huge business sponsorship. When it comes to steps pertaining to defining business outcomes, driving learning transfer and deploying performance support, leadership involvement is vital.

Cipla University has launched an ingenious programme that taps the huge reservoir of internal knowledge at Cipla. The Master Trainer platform – MiGuru — seeks the involvement of subject matter experts and leaders as trainers and contributors to the learning agenda. Leaders as teachers will take the effectiveness of learning to a completely different level.

Cipla University is well on its way to establishing a governance platform for its various academies which will see a steady and seamless involvement of leaders in the learning agenda and ensure that the same is aligned with business strategies and priorities.

The tagline of Cipla University is Learn, Excel, Grow. Needless to say, that to achieve and sustain this, leadership involvement is key.

Innoventia – Search For Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

Keeping up with Cipla’s innovation-driven credo, happy to share one of our big initiatives towards the same. Check out Innoventia.Cipla.Com to participate & reinvent the way we deliver healthcare.

I take this opportunity to also write my thoughts on why an initiative like Innoventia is much needed in our times.

They say when data is tortured enough, it will confess to anything! This couldn’t ring truer than now- when ‘sharing’ has become a way of life, thanks to the digital takeover of our lives. Everything is under the impact of the fastest moving phenomenon in recent times: CHANGE. In fact, change is the new technology, permeating everything, especially healthcare.

We are already witnessing applications for blockchain and more uses for AI, especially in diagnosis. Analytics has become the new buzzword. In the broad sweep of AI’s current worldly ambitions, machine learning healthcare applications seem to top the list for funding. Clearly, healthcare is no longer about the passive delivery of diagnostics, drugs and infrastructure. Guess why?

Along with the diseases, patients are changing too – across the spectrum of understanding, knowledge, and management of diseases given the emerging technology canvas.

So what’s next? Innovation is the only answer – to tide this wave of life-altering times to transform the delivery of care.

Therefore, is it healthcare or tech care? A question that will perhaps be answered through the lens of innovation.

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#WorldBookDay: Books That Have Influenced My Life

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Meet Challenges Head On – Dr Ranjana Pathak To Women Leaders In The Making

My journey has been a roller coaster ride, filled with laughter and some tears. The challenges were numerous, since I started at the very bottom, this forces you to learn, understand the nuances of the job, the expectations of the organisation, and the regulators.

This job soon became a career and now a calling. I have always been driven, spent hours reading trade journals, studying books on key topics such as chromatography, the USP etc. By the way, the USP is a great book to learn from if you are in the lab. When I started my career, I was the only girl in the QC lab, it was daunting because I had zero experience, this was a challenge to overcome. For me it was a new country, working for the first time in my life, so I suppose the survival instinct kicked in. I have always been very focused. I have the drive to be the best in what I do. These two traits have enabled me to be a perennial student, keeping me in the learning mode. I never liked the status quo and always opted for harder tasks, taught courses because it would force me to learn and be challenged by pharma executives. The need to excel has been with me literally all my life which drives me to take challenges head-on.

In summary, it is my purpose, drive, doggedness, persistence and courage that have enabled me to overcome the numerous challenges that faced me and I know I am not alone! I have also been blessed with having a very supportive family, bosses and colleagues.

Challenges for women leaders

Time is the biggest challenge, the pharma industry is competitive and by nature, timeline bound. There is seldom tomorrow, everything seems to be needed yesterday, a very fast paced, exacting and demanding industry, full of challenges, some anticipated and others binding. For women, to play their classical roles in society and families becomes difficult, because of their innate nature.
Women from time immemorial have been jugglers, they must juggle the needs of their families, children, work, friends, communities etc…the list goes on and on.
Given that the number of hours is limited for all, women need to be able to prioritise the ‘must dos’, and let go of those tasks that cannot be done and will not matter in the long run, ‘take help’ from family members, friends, neighbours to be able to juggle everything on their plate.

Creating a conducive growth environment

The government can and should execute laws that are conducive for women to work, the organisations then must follow through to make the workplace environment safe. School and universities should promote science and maths so children join science rather than hanker for business degrees alone, don’t get me wrong we need those as well but I think I see a tip towards business. If there is no product, there will be no business to manage. Today’s generation wants instant gratification, the millennials are different from the baby boomer generation, their needs and tolerances are not the same. Careers in disciplines other science seem to be more popular. The pharma industry needs sharp scientists, engineers, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, computer science etc. to ensure that new drugs/devices are developed, existing drugs are made more affordable, the quality is uncompromised. This is a daunting task where the government can help in ensuring the platforms exist. The government can do a lot to make this feasible for women/ girls in urban and rural schools.

Need for regular campus placement

There are more number of science graduates coming out of universities who want to join the pharma sector. However, due to lack of job opportunities, they have to change their career goal. To address this, the pharma industry needs to be present on the campus to educate the graduates of tomorrow about the needs of humanity (need for medicines) and the need of society.

Success Mantra

To my newcomers and those that are stalwarts: Always do the right thing, be courageous, know your subject, believe in yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say—Wow, I am looking at a great piece of art that is going to make a huge difference today!!! If I can do it…You can do it better!!

This article originally appeared in Express Pharma.

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Books: A Cerebral Affair

“A Reader lives a thousand lives before dying. Those who never read live only once!”

All of us enter youth and the corporate world with the quiet confidence that we can change the world. Alas, this lasts only “until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the height of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain”. Our everyday challenges – finding and then doing well in a good job, keeping up with an often fragile relationship, the heavy load of expectations from our parents and ourselves, lack of clarity on what we really want to do in life, the rat race and constant comparison with our peers – often pull us down into mediocrity. And the grand idea of being the very best we can gets quietly put aside.

So Why Read Books?

If we agree that good counsel can help us become much better, what better guide than books? Mentors and teachers can come and go and may turn out to be false Gods. Why not drink from the ageless wisdom of good books, learning from the myriad experiences of some of the best of our species?

As Durant said, “When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and home, let us come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe…”

But What Exactly To Read?

There is a book for every mood and occasion. Choosing few recommendations is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

Let me start with a few recommendations from my side (click each link for more recommendations and a short summary)…

(If you want more, see my blog on 100 Books To Make Us Wise).

Part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So look out for what appeals to you. Obviously, choose the books very carefully. Good books can be an everlasting love affair, just as bad books can be more enervating than a date gone horribly wrong.


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