People are an essential element in any change process. Initiating learn programmes and implementing a paradigm shift in education is reliant upon having the right talent that is capable of steering and delivering change.

A global challenge exists because educators have almost universally been trained and conditioned to operate as solo practitioners, capable of individually managing groups of students. Added to this complexity is the actions of young people, who under traditional learning systems, become reliant on their teacher as a fountain of knowledge. A paradigm shift that positions the delivery of learning from a ‘group control’ mindset to one of ‘learner empowerment’, requires talented people who are highly agile, adaptive and above all understand the elements of a paradigm shift. Any strategy to develop the necessary talent to support change needs to facilitate a process well-described by Alvin Toffler – the need to ‘learn, unlearn and relearn.’

There is a range of associated mindset and practical shifts required to support change. Schools are traditionally noted for using repeated meetings as a means to inform and communicate. An effective talent development strategy would seek to minimise meetings and maximise active professional development.  This would be even better if the professional development provided a wide range of methodologies and learning experiences – in itself widening the potential repertoire of the learning guides.

Executive Summary

Any organisation that develops its talent to support change needs to facilitate a process well-described by Alvin Toffler – the need to ‘learn, unlearn and relearn.’ Shifting mindsets from a traditional learning paradigm to a new one will require a lot of unlearning and relearning, particularly when people up until now have been conditioned by previous methods. 

To embed a new learning paradigm and sustain change, growth programmes must be ongoing and agile to sense and respond appropriately and keep up with emerging trends. Professional development is never complete and individuals and organisations must continue to look ahead to remain relevant, particularly in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, where responding to uncertainty is all that remains certain.  

Learn Programmes are successful when organisational and individual purpose and vision can be fulfilled. A well understood purpose and vision creates the motivation necessary for personal and collective growth. In any learning community, fulfilling individual purpose and vision is critical to overall success and therefore individuals should be able to decide how their own growth and personal development should occur - the same growth opportunities should exist for students as well. 

A learning community’s greatest resource is its own talent. All actors in the community should be empowered to lead change by designing growth programmes that suit individual and collective needs and students should be included in this process too.    

Learn Programmes should be wide-ranging and delivered using a range of learning methodologies that can target individual preferences. This should include face-to face, self-paced or self-determined, experiential, peer support, coaching and mentorship or multi-skills growth opportunities. The digital age also presents unprecedented opportunities to design bespoke growth programmes. This is a cost effective alternative to traditional training approaches, with no travel, no accommodation, no unnecessary time away from work.  

Initiating and implementing a paradigm shift in education is reliant upon finding the right talent capable of steering and delivering change. This all begins with having a well understood collective vision for success.

paradigm shift in education - then & now

Starting Questions

  1. What do you think are the critical areas in your community that require growth programmes to strengthen the overall learning and organisational culture? 
  2. Does your learning community create professional development opportunities in the same way for everyone or is it personalised by the individual?  
  3. Are the students in your learning community included in growth programmes? 
  4. Do you make full use of the actors in your community to lead growth programmes? If so, are students included in this process? 
  5. How do you decide on the areas for growth that would be suited to your learning community? Or is it decided by others? 

Key Initial Actions

  1. Start with a vision and design growth programmes around it. 
  2. Assess organisational needs to identify what skills and capacities exist and what ought to be developed.
  3. Individualise growth programmes to increase impact and match individual purpose and passion. Variety and choice should exist.
  4. Seek input from all key actors in the community on the type and delivery of growth programmes.

On-going Actions

  1. Match the right talent to learn programmes and ensure choice is available. 
  2. Hire talent that aligns strongly with organisational purpose. In the hiring process, assess how individual and organisational purpose aligns.
  3. Ensure all key actors are invited or engaged in growth programmes. This includes students and parents who play a crucial role in any learning community’s success. 
  4. Reimagine the use of time so informational meetings can be replaced by time spent in growth related training contexts.     
  5. Ensure regular programmes are in place and not one-off or irregular opportunities. Growth programmes should become embedded in the regular actions and behaviours of an organisation. 

Find out more 

For a new learning paradigm to successfully embed and sustain, programmes that develop individual and collective talent must be an ongoing, agile process. Educational organisations must place its immediate needs at the centre of those programmes, attaching unique vision and purpose to drive them. Within this sphere of needs, individuals should also be able to attach their unique passion and purpose effortlessly to their organisation, fuelling motivation and personal development. Doing so fulfils both the needs of the organisation and individual.

Key Ideas 

  1. Learn programmes must fulfill the purpose of both the organisation and the individual.
  2. The digital era is ready for bespoke growth programmes that target individual needs and fuel motivation. 
  3. Learn programmes should be wide-ranging and delivered using a range of learning methodologies.
  4. Students in any learning community should be empowered to assist in leading learn programmes.
  5. Digital platforms can and must be used to scale and support change. 


  • Does the learning community position itself so that growth programmes cater to individual and organisational vision and purpose? 
  • Does the learning community design and develop growth programmes so it can develop and sustain itself? 
  • How might the learning community organise itself so its students are included in learn programmes and talent development? 
  • What deliverables should learn programmes include to support talent development under a new paradigm? 
  • What factors should the learning community consider in order to create asynchronous opportunities for talent development? 
  1. Learn programmes must fulfill the purpose of both the organisation and the individual.

    The key to success in learn programmes is recognising that growing talent can, and must, shift from a traditional, collective group delivery style, to programmes that foster the immediate needs of every individual. 

    Organisations typically deliver learn programmes from a dying paradigm. The common scenario is groups seated, listening to experts disseminate information. The problem is that this does not make full use of the array of tools, methods and approaches that are widely available, nor does it cater to individual preferences. Often learn programmes are delivered in one-off workshops, with little or no follow up communication, nor a suitable evaluation method to improve or shape future delivery. 

  2. The digital era is ready for bespoke growth programmes that target individual needs and fuel motivation. 

    We live in a world where the current knowledge economy and potential of the digital age reveals a world of possibilities for growth programmes. Virtual platforms have created a flattening knowledge hierarchy, which supports the capacity to design bespoke programmes to individualise learning experiences. This results in human resource departments and leaders facilitating learn programmes instead of assuming full responsibility; ideas and decisions can now be shared to suit individual and collective needs. This saves money on products, services, facilities and equipment. 

    Effective learn programmes are emerging from organisational pioneers who are leading change by exploring alternative methods. These pioneers recognise the need to equip individuals with the tools necessary to formulate and determine their own personal and professional growth programmes for themselves and their organisations. 

    Delivery options for growth programmes are broad. User experience is shaping a culture of bespoke designs - in music, health, media, shopping, even eating. Similar user experience models can be added to learn programmes, where individuals and organisations can create the experiences that suit their needs and then reflect on them to foster continued improvement. In a new learning paradigm, customised preferences linked to passion and purpose increases the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to complete learn programmes. 

    Bespoke growth programmes reveal several benefits, including;
    - increased productivity;
    - strengthened and affirmed culture;
    - raised moral through a common, collective purpose; 
    - lifelong learning opportunities to support continued future readiness; 
    - stronger team performance from increased growth around vision;
    - employee retention from increased satisfaction, and; 
    - an emerging sense and respond organisational agility through broadened expertise. 

    Learn programmes using technology is helping break the mould of traditional, teacher-at-the-front approaches to learning. Any future relevant organisation offers virtual growth opportunities to their community and today’s world makes it possible for learning to be customised using technology to support specific needs. Virtual learn programmes can happen anywhere, anytime and at any pace. 

    Technology has enabled faster, more flexible, large-scale learning on digital platforms. Digital programmes enable individuals and organisations to fit training around their own schedules, solving time management issues that limit suitability. Growth programme pioneers have broadened their use of cloud-based learning to run personalised applications such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses), instructional videos, mobile learning, web-based seminars, learning games, e-coaching, virtual classrooms, online performance support and online simulations. 

    Technology is a cost effective alternative to traditional training approaches - no travel, no accommodation, no unnecessary time away from work. 

    A widely advocated and emerging model for learning is blended learning. This involves learning in both virtual and physical realms. Essentially, individuals prepare for growth programmes through received virtual information and activity sessions before meeting for a more hands on, human-centred active learning experience. In a self-determined context, which should be the ultimate aim for every individual, learn programmes can be individually designed to suit personal needs. The self-determined learner decides exactly what they require and pursues their own learn programme using physical and virtual platforms accordingly - this enables the learn programme to be managed by the individual. Blended programs that are individual-led rather than instructor led, increases engagement, purpose, passion and motivation. 

  3. Learn programmes should be wide-ranging and delivered using a range of learning methodologies.

    Below are some examples of the types of growth programme opportunities that organisations could be making full use of either in collaborative or individual ways:

    1. Face-to face

    Programmes are conducted with human and physical interactions placed at centre. In today’s digital world, it remains crucial to maintain the connection to the self and those around us.  

    2. Self-paced or self-determined

    Individuals learn depending on their own individual needs, be that to suit time constraints or a pace to suit skills capacity. The use of digital technology is a critical aspect to supporting self-paced and self-determined learning (more below).   

    3. Experiential

    Authentic, hands on environments enable simulated experiences to occur. Individuals experience the emotions and senses attached to real-life scenarios, cultivating understanding, empathy, healthy and manageable stress, competency and confidence.  

    4. Peer support

    Learning occurs in an environment where individuals work together to help develop and support each other’s capacities, learning off one of one other and offering effective feedback throughout.   

    5. Coaching and mentorship

    Learn programmes are delivered with a coach and mentor, who does not disseminate content, but rather facilitates scenarios to develop individuals by guiding learning through careful questioning and self-reflection opportunities that foster growth. This style places high emphasis on the individual, with the coach and mentor presenting opportunities that challenges thinking.  

    6. Multi-skills growth 
    Societal trends require individuals and organisations to sense and respond appropriately to change. The abbreviation VUCA - volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity - is an accurate summary of our world. Learn programmes must prepare individuals for adopting and using multiple skills approaches to navigate their world successfully. 

    Although the above growth programme styles are unique, they can be combined into different points of any learn programme. 

  4. The whole learning community should be empowered to assist in leading growth programmes.

    Democratising knowledge continues to flatten existing hierarchies through knowledge sharing and collective intelligence. Unleashing the power of collective intelligence is critical to digital transformation. Increasingly, learners and a learner’s inner circle can send each other recommended content, thereby curating and championing learning themselves. Individuals empowered to share knowledge can help democratise organisational structures. 

    For all the advances that digitization promises, growth programmes and learning cannot rely on this medium entirely. Organisations must continue to value the connection to tangible, human-centred physical interactions. A 21st century VUCA world ultimately requires high emotional intelligence, collaboration and the appropriate soft skills to navigate successfully, so physical growth programmes must not become an artefact from a previous paradigm. Digital learning should therefore support and advance our human interactions, by making them even more impactful. 

    A strong culture and understanding one’s why before embarking on any growth journey is key to success, and organisations with strong cultures recognise the importance of their purpose or why and design learn programmes to strive towards this fulfilment. Purpose in strong cultures is often regarded as an agile concept, with a sense and respond mindset adopted to support flexible decision making in a complex world. Shared organisational values are acted out through growth programmes, shaping the key behaviours and mindsets to be lived out to fully achieve organisational purpose. 

    Strong organisational cultures deliver the best learn programmes by;
    - meeting the growth needs of every individual;
    - preparing individuals for continued and future career readiness, even if it means they move on to other organisations;
    - planning to ensure any organisational skills gaps are accounted for and grow the necessary talent to address needs;
    - making full use of the most effective learning methodologies available;
    - giving honest feedback on growth programmes to improve their delivery, and; 
    - evaluating and reflecting diligently to measure and identify impact and areas for development. 

    If a learning community strongly believes in its own purpose, learn programmes should be the same for its professionals as it is for its students. Students should be empowered to grow their change agent capacities by having opportunities to facilitate learn programmes to all stakeholders. This enables them to champion future learn programmes and become pioneers for change themselves.  

    In a learning community there are multiple stakeholders to be aware of. The aim should be to grow everyone’s capacity across multiple areas. This requires the growth of learning guides, learners, parents, co-workers and collaborative partners who all make crucial contributions to the learning culture. In the wider learning community, the aim for a new learning paradigm must be to influence policy maker’s desire for change, and in turn influence the method of learn programmes. Therefore it is a societal goal to provide effective growth programmes for all.    

  5. Digital platforms can and must be used to scale and support change. 

    If a learning paradigm is to scale and sustain change in a wider global picture, support must be provided online and suited to all cultural contexts. Online learn programmes can be used to capture effective practices and spread to scale on MOOCs. MOOCs are customisable to suit the cultural context of any learning community and can merge virtual and physical learn programmes in blended formats. MOOCs provide learning expertise across multiple genres and are available to learning communities anywhere, any place, any time. Without online presence, one runs the risk of ignoring the exponential capacity of spreading information to far-reaching interest groups, so using MOOCs increases the capacity for scaling both best practices and a new learning paradigm. 

    One cannot predict what the future holds, but what is certain is the need for learning communities to observe, critically assess and synthesise global trends so all key actors remain relevant; the learners, learning guides, parents, co-workers and collaborative partners. It is necessary for correct guidance for learning communities to design and deliver customised growth programmes which is now possible in a shared, open-source global world. Effective leadership can ensure continued future relevance in an ever-changing, VUCA world. And reimagined learn programmes are crucial to fostering future relevance.  

Act now

The success of reimagining learn programmes relies heavily on organisations and individuals being able to attach their own unique purpose to each programme - a win-win situation must emerge. To do this requires multi-faceted consideration to suit the immediate context of any learning community.  

A risk-free, safe, growth oriented space is necessary to support organisational and individual purpose. Valuing a fail-forward, growth mindset culture will help produce great outcomes. When this is established, authentic and impactful growth can occur, which will support the achievement of purpose and in turn strengthen culture. 

Enable and sustain growth programmes

The following points must be considered if a learning community is to establish a strong learn programme culture:

  1. Hire talent that aligns strongly with organisational purpose. In the hiring process, assess how individual and organisational purpose aligns.
  2. Ensure all stakeholders are invited or engaged in growth programmes. This includes students and parents who play a crucial role in any learning community’s success. 
  3. Create a community that facilitates ongoing, growth programme opportunities. 
  4. Blend the physical and virtual realms for learning. Virtual growth programmes must seamlessly support face to face learn programmes if they are to scale to wider-reaching audiences. 
  5. Reimagine the use of time so informational meetings can be replaced by time spent in growth related training contexts.     
  6. Ensure regular programmes are in place, not one-off or irregular opportunities. Growth learning opportunities should become embedded in the regular actions and behaviours of an organisation. 
  7. Individualise learn programmes to increase impact and match individual purpose and passion. Variety and choice should match the agility required to foster organisational success. 
  8. Devise learn programme portfolios that are both individualised and transferable across the learning community. This portfolio could also ensure minimum organisational training requirements are fulfilled as well as fostering individual motivation for continued, lifelong learning. 
  9. Seek input from all stakeholders on the type and delivery of learn programmes.
  10. Encourage a self-determined learning culture so individuals become empowered to devise their own learn programmes. 

    Create a format for growth programmes 
    Learn programmes must follow a rigorous format to ensure cohesion and a common language of understanding. A standardised format ensures all stakeholders can support one another, which increases peer to peer learning and improves culture. There are many available formats which can be duplicated to suit the organisational context. Below are some of those common processes that learn programmes often follow.

    Assess Organisational Needs
    This is crucial to identifying what skills and capacities exist and what ought to be developed in individual and organisational contexts. Assessing needs helps establish the purpose for designing a learn programme. The assessment process can be revisited during any stage of the growth programme because new skills and learning capacities may arise. 

    Once an assessment is completed and requirements identified, a design process for a learn programme can develop to decide who to target, at what level and how - at this point a programme objective can be decided. Monitoring and evaluation methods should be built into this design process from the start to continually assess the relevance of the design. Formal training is not always the best method for learning and organisations should make wide use of other methodologies available to them (see Find Out More section).   

    In the design process, selecting the correct training methods is crucial. Those completing a learn programme should be included in choosing their suited methods and they should be varied to target individual needs. If a learn programme is individual-focused, then individuals should design their own programme to foster self-determined learning opportunities. 

    A transparent learn programme agenda should be made available with an overview of activity sessions to be completed and time frames if necessary. Learn programmes may commence once an agenda is set. In a customisable growth programme, matching the right participants with the right content and methods is crucial for success. Learn programmes should enable opportunities for participants to apply their learning to their community for more authentic experiential outcomes. 

    Monitor and evaluate
    Monitoring and evaluating can be very difficult to capture, and this needs to be done so that organisations can develop and participants can speak altruistically about their experiences. Measuring success is not always possible mathematically, so fostering a culture of communication and collaboration greatly helps. This requires a safe, growth mindset space to do so effectively. Feedback should always be used to inform and incorporate future designs for learn programmes. 

    The processes described above are linked through stages, but learn programmes can incorporate various aspects of these processes during a programme cycle to improve and make changes if and when necessary. 

Examples in action 

The following examples of learn programmes are sourced across various businesses and educational organisations. What is most obvious - and what has driven the success of these initiatives - is the use of digital platforms to support learning and to connect wide-reaching networks together. The purpose of learn programmes in these examples are definitively communicated - there is a why attached to the processes and initiatives, and individuals and organisations are motivated to deliver and encourage success. 

  • Expert and tutor teachers: HundrED Forerunner, City of Helsinki 2019
    Expert and tutor teachers: Improving the growth of teacher expertise through co-development and co-learning within the educator community. Helsinki focuses on teachers’ professional development and school reform. As part of teachers’ continuing education, the city has created developer teacher networks to support competence development. Expert and tutor teachers operate across school boundaries and educational levels, promoting the implementation of the latest and best operating models.

  • Deutsche Bank’s Born to Be programme
    Born to Be uses education-led programmes to unlock the potential of the next generation. Deutsche Bank helps target the barriers that prevent young people from achieving their full potential: the skills gap between what schools teach and what employers want. The inequality that means some young people enjoy more and better educational opportunities than others. Deutsche Bank’s strategy is to break the cycles that limit a young person’s prospects through early intervention. 

  • Financial education. Helping girls build better futures.
    Education drives economic empowerment and social mobility. Credit Suisse’s Financial Education Initiative aims to increase both the financial capability of girls and their awareness of their social and economic rights. Financial Education aims to provide relevant and timely financial education to girls and young women at key points in their lives, as part of a program to support girls with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to tackle decisions along their life's journey, whether this is personal, professional or in continuing education.

  • Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship
    NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth from under-resourced communities to ensure their success and to create a more vibrant society. NFTE offers schools and partners a unique combination of high-impact student programs with exceptional teacher training and support. The result? Entrepreneurship changes the lives of young people.

  • LinkedIn Learning 
    LinkedIn Learning is an online educational platform that helps you discover and develop business, technology-related, and creative skills through expert-led course videos. With more than 5,000 courses and personalised recommendations, you can discover, complete, and track courses related to your field and interests. You can also choose to add these courses and related skills to your LinkedIn profile once you've completed them. It currently has 684k subscribers. 

  • Danone
    Danone, long committed to encouraging professional and individual development, successfully rolled out its cloud-based Danone Campus 2.0 in 2014. Easily accessible and continually updated, this innovative approach to learning involves Danone employees in their own development by providing a digital, user-friendly space to share best practices, to highlight the latest internal and external knowledge, and to foster a culture of collaborative learning and networking.

Further reading 

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