Content Curation in Times of Uncertainty

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If you’ve heard it once, you’ll have probably heard it a thousand times – today’s world is increasingly described as being a VUCA one – that is more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous than it ever has been before.

It’s a world where new skills not only need to be continually added, but they need to be continually developed, to enable employees to keep up with what seems like a faster-moving landscape. Once a year, or even twice a year training in ‘chalk and talk’ classroom environments (which only provide 10% of what they actually learned anyway) is no longer appropriate. Learners almost need to be always-on to learning opportunities, and be ready to adapt and change at a moment’s notice.

The good news is that employees, it seems, are already attuned to this need. They increasingly want to be responsible for their own learning (according to findings from Deloitte’s Employees Take Charge report, 2016). Employees understand that keeping their skills updated is vital to their own career prospects.

Continuous Learning is Essential

The good news is that employers are seeing the value in continuous learning too – more than eight in ten (84%) executives view learning as either an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ issue. No doubt this has a lot to do with very real fears about corporate survival. In 1920 the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company was 67 years. It is just 15 years today, and in the next 10 years, it is predicted 40% of current S&P 500 companies will disappear altogether.

But – what arguably is different is ‘how’ this learning will be delivered. Not so long ago all the talk was that user-generated content (UGC) would answer these VUCA problems. This is where staff would make sense of changing needs, and add content themselves to share. Now what is increasingly obvious is that while learning still needs to be continuous, content needs to be properly curated and many now argue it needs curating not by employees, but by experts who know precisely what organisations need. More often than not, this means harnessing the expertise of outsourced learning providers.

Outsourced continuous content curation takes content away from being free-flowing and without control to a place where learning (either user-generated or employer generated) is continually managed by providers that understand the business strategy, and use their knowledge and skills to ensure learning materials help achieve this. Outsourced partners take content, evaluate it, update it, transform it, and make it available in the most effective way. It is always monitored to ensure it meets the strategic, but changing nature of the business, and the curation comes with all the right technological support so that all staff can access, and learn from it.

Because content needs continuous curation, it needs continual assessment – something in-house L&D departments often do not have the resources for. Outsourced providers don’t just manage, refresh, and review content, they encourage staff to access it more often. They adopt the extremely important function of sorting it, properly tagging it, and making it more available.

Content Curation is an Art Form

As the speed at which new content is created and shared – through mobile phones and tablets – so the need for content to be properly and continuously curated grows too.

With careful curation, for instance aligning it to stated business goals or aligning it to job roles and levels, evidence shows businesses will prosper more. For example, those organisations scoring in the top 10% in the Toward Maturity Index (which rates how firms align learning to business need) are eight times more likely to have a positively impacted learning culture.

But, continuous content curation isn’t easy. Increasingly it is an art form, requiring lots of experience, skills and (ironically perhaps) training to do it well. The best outsourced experts are those that make connections across lots of data streams; who can pick apart data and crunch numbers, and store it in easily found repositories. Steve Thompson, Director Business Development EMEA at Raytheon Professional Services says: “With their end goal to help get content to as wide an audience as possible, the role of the content curator is fast becoming a specialism in its own right, requiring internal stakeholder skills, as well as IT and HR ones. That’s why, in this VUCA world, firms don’t need less, but more awareness of the skills needed to curate.”

Continuous curation is itself a task that requires continuous investment. Fail to do this now, and the price could be continuously trying, but never really being able to catch up.

Raytheon Professional Services, in partnership with CorporateLeaders, is hosting the 5th Annual Raytheon Symposium in Frankfurt and London (13th and 27th September 2017).
Click here for more information.

Towards Maturity, Embracing Change: Fast Facts, 2015
Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, Continuous, Curated Learning: The Business Case, 2017
Towards Maturity, Embracing Change: Fast Facts, 2015