Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Upskilling Won’t Benefit Your Digital Transformation

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April 26, 2023
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3 min

The road to progress is rarely straightforward for any organization undertaking a transformation process. Invariably, employees need time to adjust to new processes, products, culture, and tools, while L&D professionals are tasked with the crucial role of ensuring strategic goals and day-to-day improvements are aligned. In addition, digital transformation presents several unique challenges that require unique solutions when preparing for and implementing change processes.

With that in mind, we recently sat down with Dr. Cem Ulukut, 50Hertz’s Senior Change Consultant, who offered us his expert perspective on how L&D can support a successful digital transformation, as well as the common pitfalls of digitization. The recording of our webinar is available here, but we wanted to offer our four key takeaways from our insightful discussion with Dr. Ulukut to any L&D professional on how to support their organization through digital transformation. 

1. Clear motivations are the foundation of a successful digital transformation

It sounds obvious, but this is where many digital transformations fail at the first hurdle - when organizations fail to properly consider why they wish to undergo the process. Often, companies feel pressured to undergo digital transformation in order to keep up with accelerated rate of technological change, with AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 dominating the current news cycle. As a consequence, recent research has revealed that 70% of companies today are either undergoing or planning a digital transformation strategy. 

Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep up with the emergence of new technologies and remain competitive; however, the initiative is bound to fail without a proper strategy at the beginning of the transformation process. As Dr. Cem highlighted during our webinar, this places much more stress on L&D professionals. When the transformation office fails to communicate specific use cases and changes in the day-to-day operations of different departments, the role of L&D in guiding the organization through transition becomes significantly more challenging. 

2. All employees must understand what digital transformation will mean for them

It is important to note that the umbrella term of “digital transformation” will mean different things for different departments. Employees working in more conventionally tech-based roles such as IT will often feel change less drastically than those that don’t, for instance. As such, it is vital that L&D professionals avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation and instead strategize support mechanisms within role-specific contexts in order to ensure all employees are aligned on goals. In addition, L&D professionals must be aligned with the transformation office and senior leadership on a broad approach to ensure this is implemented correctly. As Dr. Ulukut explained during the webinar: 

“Those that are responsible for the transformation need to offer a broad approach to ensure everyone across the organization can discover what digitalization means in their area of business, the products and services they work with, or the processes they use. I think that is what’s missing.”
Dr. Cem Ulukut
Senior Change Consultant at 50Hertz

3. Peer learning is essential to cultivate a coaching culture of digital literacy

An additional challenge in supporting a successful digital transformation is the frequent differences in digital literacy across employee demographics. Often, though not always, a younger generation of so-called “digital natives” will feel more at home with technological change than older generations. As such, it’s vital that L&D professionals facilitate peer-to-peer learning via initiatives such as workshops, breakout sessions, and merging groups of varying digital literacy to collaborate. In doing so, L&D professionals can assist in cultivating a coaching culture, in which collaborative knowledge-sharing and motivation become day-to-day norms among the workforce. Ultimately, employees at all levels feeling they can play a valuable role in driving change will help to drive your transformation’s success and lead to long-lasting results. 

4. L&D professionals must be involved in the digital transformation process from the outset

One of Dr. Ulukut’s consistent points throughout our webinar was the importance of offering L&D professionals a seat at the table at the beginning of the transformation process. As he explained, “often HR is not seen as the drivers of transformation and change and is involved only later; HR has to ensure it has a seat at the table and collaborates closely with the people responsible for the transformation.” In practical terms, this means inviting L&D professionals to devise the transformation from the outset, asking what the specific use cases are for each level of transformation needed and what actual role changes are expected. 

In doing so, L&D professionals are far better placed to move from the initial phase of clarifying goals (something Dr. Ulukut referred to as the “what” phase of digital transformation) to the “how” phase of aligning company-wide targets with learning and development initiatives, learner content, and practical advice on employees’ changing roles. 


In conclusion, a successful digital transformation requires a clear strategy, role-specific support mechanisms, peer learning, and involvement of L&D professionals from the outset. By avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach, aligning with the transformation office, facilitating peer-to-peer learning, and playing an active role in the transformation process, L&D professionals can ensure that employees at all levels feel empowered to drive change and contribute to the success of the transformation. By following these key steps, organizations can successfully navigate the challenges of digital transformation and come out the other side with a workforce that is equipped to thrive in the digital age.

Sharpist drives the growth of organizations and their people through 1:1 digital coaching and personalized learning.
Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Upskilling Won’t Benefit Your Digital Transformation
Daniel O'Dwyer
Content Writer
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