Reimagining capability building in 2030: What the experts think

Companies can bolster their success by focusing on capability building.

By U2B Staff 

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What do companies like Apple, Amazon or Starbucks have in common? These household brand names have managed to capitalise on their skills and abilities and remain relevant despite the influx of changes that are happening in the world today. For that to happen, capability building can’t be ignored.

Capability building is integral to the long-term success of an organisation in just about any industry. As companies continue to be affected by changes in our tech-driven era, so do the training needs of their staff.


Upskilling is essential to ensure staff and managers are ready to meet current and future needs of the workplace in a fast-changing world with new technologies and evolving customer behaviours.

With scores of people getting laid off due to the pandemic and economic downturn, it has become essential for staff to ensure that their skills make them a strong candidate in the competitive job market, in addition to helping them with career advancement.

What will capacity building look like in the future?

In the McKinsey report, The Next Normal, senior partner in McKinsey’s New York office, Michael Park opined that “event-based capability building is over”.

“We have to move from, ‘Let’s get everybody into a room and let’s do a snazzy workshop.’ We need to now move to a model where we’re using technology, remote learning, more microlearning than event-based learning, and more simulations that truly immerse the learner as they do their job versus as a separate action.

Daniel Pacthod, also a senior partner from the office, said we can apply the mindset of capability building like going to the gym, where we go a few times a week.

“It’s going be the same mindset for capability building: there won’t be a day or a week where you won’t have time set aside to invest in yourself, in becoming a better leader,” he said.

“Technology will enable us to do this. For example, if you’re an operations person and you want to learn the future of Industry 4.0, instead of flying all the way to see a plant, you’ll have AR/VR technology that will help you do virtual visits.”

The rise of data analytics will mean that courses and capability-building workshops will be more tailored towards a person, and “a lot more captivating to the audience, and a lot more effective as a result”, said Park.

Leaders also have a role to play in capability building.

McKinsey senior partner in the Washington DC office Jon Garcia said capability building is an evergreen process, adding that it’s “about constant reinforcement and constant application of the new skill, so that it’s not just something that’s understood in the mind of an employee, but it actually manifests itself in their behaviour”.

“So creating opportunities for reinforcement and application, and ensuring that your employees understand that it’s all about bringing the skill to their day-to-day jobs—that’s one of the most important things leaders can do.”

How it serves as a strategic advantage 

Park believes people will be a lot more attuned to their capability-building investment in the future for tangible business benefits.

“When you’re talking about the war for talent, when you talk about talent being a differentiator for companies and their performance, what’s the amount of money you’re putting into people?” he said. 

“What’s the effectiveness you’re getting out of that? The investment includes capability building in resilience and adaptability, topical training, executive coaching, and a whole swath of things that makes your workforce a lot more effective.”


McKinsey partner in the New York office Liz McNally opined that capability building and learning should be a CEO-agenda-level item, adding that it’s crucial to think about what capabilities are going to be critical as a competitive differentiator for organisations, going forward, and then build a plan to address them.

Garcia said developing talent is “job one for every leader in an organisation”. 

“If there were one thing that I would recommend to all executives in this time of great external challenges, it would be to own the capability-building agenda in your organization. Own that aspect of leadership yourself, because I think it really will define the difference between winners and losers.”