More learning types and greater reach to achieve organisational learning

Learning telco

While the telcos cited so far have demonstrated progressive learning practices, they are not equally progressive in all areas, or across the whole organisation. We’ve assessed the position of six telcos – Elisa, Spark, Telenor, TELUS Digital, Telia and Deutsche Telekom – on seven dimensions:

  1. The prominence of learning in their corporate values/culture (i.e. learning is explicitly referenced)
  2. They are clear on the collective purpose for organisational learning, e.g. greater customer
    centricity or continuous improvement which relies on everyone working together
  3. Content-based learning is available to all employees (self-led, “in the flow of work”)
  4. There are structures/frameworks for knowledge sharing (person-led learning)
  5. Process-led learning is widely adopted
  6. Trial, reflection and practice of learning are supported and encouraged (e.g. coaching, feedback,
    implementation support)
  7. People are regularly recognised/rewarded for sharing and acquiring new knowledge/skills
    (beyond course attendance certificates).
    The assessment is based largely on information available in the public domain, so may not be
    complete, or represent the latest picture. It is intended as a tool to help those plotting their course to
    become learning organisations.

Most of the telcos profiled are vocal about their commitment to learning as an organisational priority. This appears less explicit in the stated values and culture of TELUS Digital (though it could be considered implied). Deutsche Telecom recently added “Stay curious and grow” to its list of “guiding principles” (2020).

What’s changing in the telecom industry and what should leaders do?

Our transformation research helps telcos to align stakeholders, promote practices like continuous learning and succeed in a fast-changing industry. Book a demo today.

Book a demo

For Elisa and Spark, there is a clear link between learning and their customer focus and improvement objectives. For Telenor and Deutsche Telekom, the link between learning and a shared corporate objective is less clear (learning is focused on skills acquisition). For TELUS Digital and Telia there is greater sense of a shared learning objective.

In terms of learning types:

  • Elisa and Spark offer a full range of learning experiences across the organisation (not only content-based, but person- and process-led). TELUS Digital is reasonably advanced in terms of person- and process-led learning, but it is not clear whether all employees have access to the full range of experiences, or if it is limited to its product organisation (it has not been possible to evaluate its content-based learning portals based on public information). Deutsche Telekom is also promoting the three styles of learning, but person- and process-led learning appear less developed in terms of roll out/reach.
  • Telia has been investing in its learning and development platform and there is evidence of initiatives to support knowledge sharing (e.g. leadership programmes to drive the culture and behaviour change), even though this does not appear embedded across the organisation. Process-led learning (e.g. design thinking) is taking place in some areas.
  • Telenor appears to emphasize content-based “self-learning” more so than knowledge sharing and process-led learning (within a team). There is little evidence in the public domain of frameworks or structure for person- and process-led learning.

While most of these organisations are recognising the importance of different learning types, the reach of person- and process-led learning must increase in order to advance the collective intelligence in the organisation and minimise resistance to change from legacy practices.

For more detail on this, please check our report Building the learning telco


Thylaxsana Sivakumar


Thylaxsana Sivakumar is an analyst at STL Partners.

Read more about Transformation Leadership

Transformation Leadership insights pack

This document will provide you with a summary of our insights from our Transformation Leadership work.

Telcos versus Techcos: Who is winning the battle of strategic capabilities?

STL Partners has conducted a significant study to benchmark the skills we consider critical for success in the future. Here is a summary of our high-level findings.

​​The benefits of GitOps in telecoms​

As telcos continue to rollout 5G, they are adopting software engineering approaches, like DevOps and CI/CD to improve how they run the networks and innovate. Some are exploring the potential of specific practices, such as GitOps, to elevate their processes. Here we address what GitOps is, how it is different to DevOps, and why large telcos like Deutsche Telekom and Orange are interested.

Telco skills in demand: key trends in hiring patterns

Telcos require access to new skill sets to manage transformed networks and operations, as well as to offer and scale differentiated services to customers. This article identifies which skills are in-demand in the telecoms industry and leverages LinkedIn data to illustrate how hiring patterns are changing.