Learning in the Digital Age - Part 2.

Building the Self-driven, Agile, Digital, Exponential Learning Organisation.

We are delighted to welcome back Kerryn Kohl as guest writer for the second part of this Knowledge Bank article.


Learning is fast becoming a business-critical priority.  We can all ‘feel’ that the pace has accelerated, but it’s not just a feeling. According to researchers at Deloitte it is the result of operating under Moore’s Law. Deloitte - Global Human Capital Trends 2016. 

To respond to this fast paced, dynamic environment and meet the demands of this massive shift from physical to digital, material to virtual we need a new breed of learning organisation.

We need to shift towards what I have termed the SADEL Organisation, the Self-driven, Agile, Digital, Exponential Learning (SADEL) Organisation. In moving towards this model, we need to make three major shifts:

  • Shifting towards a Self- Driven Learning culture: Before organisations can truly embrace and benefit from learning we need to develop our ‘self-directedness’ and we need to be empowered to do so.  You see, the potential to be self-directed exists within us, however the capability must be developed and enabled.  Self – Direction is a skill and a learned behaviour. However, its development is often stifled within organisations, especially hierarchical ones. Therefore, organisations must focus on allowing us to develop this capability and enable it through true empowerment practices.


  • Adopting an Agile Philosophy and Mindset: Agility is now a core competence. Let me clarify, agility and adaptability have always been a core competence, it’s just that the world is changing faster than we ever imagined it could and thereby greater emphasis is being placed on agility. Agility is about how fast we are able to adjust our paradigms and behaviours in response to changes in our environment. To me this means the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn…at a rate of knots these days!


  • Moving from Physical to Digital: Physical training methods i.e. learner guides, training notes, workshops, facilitators etc. are fast being phased out. If I’m honest I don’t really think they received the returns on investment we really hoped for anyway.

With digitisation of everything, we have seen an increase in digital learning technologies. Although digital learning is not a silver bullet it does enable learners to grasp concepts faster, gain deeper understanding, connect theory and application more adeptly, and engage in learning more readily. It also helps improve instructional techniques, enable better usage of instructor time and facilitate the widespread sharing of knowledge. When organisations digitise learning they allow employees to become proactive and engaged learners, partners in the learning process. The caveat, employees must be self-directed before we can harness these benefits.  


Within a SADEL Organisation digital learning is harnessed effectively because it assumes that we are natural learners. It gives learners control over what I call the 4P’s of learning:  Preference, Pace, Place, Path.  Unlocking our learning potential through encouraging Autonomy, Curiosity, and Self – Directedness.


Let’s look at a possible framework for the SADEL Organisation.




A Framework for the SADEL Organisation: Kohl & Craig 2016


This is an inward out model. We believe that we have to start with developing a SADEL Mind-set within each learner, i.e.  look within before moving outward.

At the core of this framework lies the learner, specifically their mind-set and skills. Our focus here is to develop a growth mindset that powers self- direction and agility and enables a curious, adaptive, learning environment (Dweck). 

There are many other ‘soft skills’ that learners will need to develop but the two that stand out for me are digital fluency as this skill cuts across multi-generations levelling the playing field, and the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn at pace.

This SADEL mind-set will then permeate and influence the way we Team. This is the second key area of focus in the framework. Our mind-sets influence the way we engage as a collective or team, it drives the way we dialogue and influences collaboration.

Our teaming then affects the organisational layer and influences the Leadership culture. This culture will then be one than understands the importance of learning as a key driver of organisational agility. Through embracing learning and driving quality conversations and collaborations, we are able to simplify our organisational processes and become increasingly innovative.

This SADEL Organisation is then ‘held’ or contextualised by the external environment and embraces the ebb and flow of constant environmental changes and influence. Enabling this organisation to be mindfully responsive to change rather than reactive. 

The environment will constantly influence the way in which the organisation is structured. By this I mean that the organisation will discernibly adopt technology at pace, augmenting itself to promote career mobility and embrace a growing contingent workforce.  

Shifting towards a SADEL Organisation offers us an opportunity to respond to our learners equipping them to move boldly into this new digital, dynamic and complex world.


Kerryn is based in Australia, is the founder of The Coaching House and is now actively involved in the introduction of the Fourth Talent AI analytics tool which can be used to scientifically assess and determine knowledge gaps in order to deliver a truly personalised learning experience.

She can be contacted at: http://www.thecoachinghouse.co.za/


Posted On: 01 May 2018