Welcome to Episode 2 of this podcast series.In this episode, we will highlight the conversations with Kavi Arasu, Chief L&D Manager at Asian Paints at the SHRM Annual India Conference, 2016. Kavi spoke about his independent firm focused on working at the intersection of people, culture and technology. He also threw some light on the happenings and sessions at the event. .
Here, Kavi shares his views on what L&D means, who its key stakeholders are and what is the role of communication and technology in helping drive a smooth learning process.
Kavi Arasu, Chief L&D Manager, Asian Paints
Can you tell us about what you are involved in currently?
Kavi: I was working with Asian Paints till April of this year, from April I am working on a couple of things. One, I have an independent firm and this firm is focused on working at the intersection of people, culture and technology. So in this firm we consult with a lot of organizations, who are interested in aspects like design thinking, organization development based technology enabled work. So that’s what we do. I also have position of Director of Learning and change with media and learning platform by the name Fonding Fuel.
About this event SHRM India Annual Conference 2016, how is this going on for you?
Kavi: I think this is a good event, you can come in contact with a number of ideas. A lots of new people to talk to and any conference is success in my opinion if you are in a position to get a few ideas, meet a few new people and if it excites the boundaries of your thinking and I think on all those counts I have been immensely satisfied with whatever I have got from this conference.
Learning and development is a very broad term in itself, so who owns it? Who are the key stakeholders for learning and development in an organization; is it a single person or is it a distributed ownership, according to you?
Kavi: From an organization’s perspective, there are three people or three entities that are important for learning and development to happen properly. The first entity is the employee, himself/herself that’s the most important entity. Second entity of course is the employee’s immediate manager and the third one is the organizational ecosystem and in that organizational eco system I would bundle in all heaps of people including learning & development, including HR, including all the other people that would contribute to creating the culture and creating a learning eco system in the place and therefore all these three entities are extremely important for learning to take place progressively but ultimately, in our connected world if there is one entity that would play the the greatest amount of emphasis on learning that would be on the employee himself or herself. That’s where the real crux, the real difference will be there. Everything else good to be there, it’s nice if they can facilitate it but if the employee chooses, he or she in our modern times can learn anything. And whatever the choice that the organization makes here the organization can’t force an employee to learn, the organization can’t stop an employee from learning whatever it is. So I thing the greatest of emphasis is on the employee.
What according to you is the role of dialogue in creating a focused L&D approach?
Kavi: Dialog is the central piece on which learning can happen, a learning should happen, largely because if you create rich meaningful jobs and if you move from an eco system and if you move from a mindset of having to learn in order to work, we move from that mindset to another mindset which says work is my learning, then the learning has to be anchored by a few things. The most important aspect that will anchor that learning is conversation, is dialog. It is to be able to talk and decide what have I picked up from the job, what have I, what am I, what do I need to do better all of this does not come up just magically. It comes out best through conversation and therefore it’s important to have proper learning conversations, proper conversations from which learning will result and therefore, dialog in my opinion is the central piece for learning to happen. I think I should correct myself, I don’t think for learning to happen but for learning to be made sense of and of learning to kind of settle in our minds dialog is crucial and its important for us to practice how to have that conversation and any organization which lays a lot of emphasis on conversation will go a long distance in my view.
What do you think is the role of technology in ensuring a smooth learning process?
Kavi: So, to many people technology and conversations go against each other, I would differ because what technology does is technology gives scales to conversations. Technology is a great enabler for multiple levels for conversations to happen; technology is a great enabler for learning to happen in a very democratized manner at times which are most convenient. At places which are most needed, aspects which are necessary for performing a particular job, just in the nick of time all of this performance all of this technology is going to be a massive massive use. We need to make the best use of technology and we need to move from being, from thinking of technology as an additive that comes after imagining the learning and development process and then thinking about what can we do with technology. We need to move from that kind of thinking to thinking ground up with technology woven in, thinking ground up with jobs woven in, thinking ground up with what’s my, how rich are my job, how what are people learning while doing their jobs regularly. If we think ground up with technology we will go a long distance in ensuring learning is seamless in our system. And that is perhaps the most important element there. We all need to be thinking as we lead to a very well connected future.