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Business is changing – are we keeping up?

Over six years ago Sir Ken Robinson proposed a education system that would nurture rather than, as he states, “kill creativity”.  This idea is around exploring, learning as you go, and experimenting alone as well as in groups; business is following this path even if they don’t know it.  Harold Jarche wrote recently that the “notion of dividing an organization into functions, and then departments, is fundamentally flawed” and we are moving towards networks of collaboration and teams as an accepted norm rather than the unspoken norm it really is.  How are we supporting this process oriented network in terms of learning and performance?

An example of this changing organization was created by Joachim Stroh.  He used an open job and illustrated how we currently and how we could fill the need of rresources differently.  He proposed that you can fill a job or split it between people.  Or, “if you think of the organization as a network, then you look for gaps that need to be connected.”   In essence we might be filling the wrong position for the right resource may already be in place and up to speed ready to produce meaningful results.

Let’s take that thought and apply it to an individual on the job performing in a role, the opportunity for us as learning professionals is to keep that person in the context of the network that are a part of, we can connect to them as well as connect them to the objects that will meet the needs they have, bridging the gap of knowledge, the process and/or procedure that is impacting their performance success.  Take this idea one more step and apply Charles Jennings 70:20:10 model and let’s explore learning in the personalized networked organization.

Much of the recent research has identified that we learn as we go and we do this informally and in the workplace, i.e., socially. Jane Hart wrote recently, “I think it is fair to say that most L&D departments have not really been interested in supporting this type of learning, preferring instead to try and manage it in the same way as they do with training – without much success as this is a pretty impossible task!”  So where are you making changes to support the learner where, and when, they need to learn? 

I propose a deeper dive into Jane Hart’s “Learning in a Social Organization” model where instruction is not forgotten however the primary means of learning and improving performance (the remaining 90%) is planned for.  In this model the creation of networks is formulated, supported and utilized fostering the development of personal learning networks, PLN, (aka, “Hey Bob, how do I do …”).

Here is where the learning team needs to focus its efforts for PLN’s by their very nature can easily bypass internal expertise and lessons learned.  This method of searching and exploring allows the learner to have many choices, this constructivist design makes the learning and support chosen highly personal however it also means the recommended solution, provided by the learning team, may not be the once chosen.  “The greater the amount of information, the greater is the uncertainty that a particular message will be selected.  In information theory this is called ”desired uncertainty”.

So what should we be doing?  We need to be their resource, make it simple to ask questions, be the experts that reply first – be faster, easier, and more accurate than simply “google-ing” the question.  We should focus on supporting people in a process and not trying to make people fit into an event (touch instead of teach).  We have the inside track for we can provide context with internal expertise and this is a game changer often forgotten, “without context around 50% is forgotten within 1 hour.  The impact we can bring is an increased sensitivity to the context of the need, we can provide the information that will enable success where and when it is needed.  “This means embedding and supporting learning in the workplace, and bringing it as close to the task to be performed as possible.”

More than close to the task, we need to be close to the people.  Then we will be their first point of contact, then we will earn our seat at the business table, then we will be helping people move from potential to performance.  And isn’t that why we do what we do?


About wjryan

Developing high performing people through strategic learning and performance solutions. Please visit www.williamjryan.com


5 thoughts on “Business is changing – are we keeping up?

  1. I completely agree with what you have said here. My question deals with the evaluation of such programs. When you develop a learning environment that is learner centered and focuses on imporved performance through experiences and peers, how do you capture the learning that is occurring? Would there be a better way than through multiple assessments (performance based assessments, checklists, observation set by criteria rubrics, etc.) and then pulling the data points together on each learner? I have been reading up on Stufflebeams CIPP model and was wondering if you have any ideas appropriate for capturing data for a learning environment like this.

    Posted by BCombs | October 3, 2012, 6:08 pm
    • Great question and I would refer you to an article Jane Bozarth posted titled “Nuts and Bolts: Assessing the Value of Online Interactions” She uses a graphic that shows a process we might be able to use, key to the collection of data points is the identification of the conversation.

      To your point, I think we need to change the metrics we use from assessment-based (aka “scores”) to perofrmance-based (aka “business criteria”, quality scores for example). So using an analytic engine that highlights the conversations going on (spikes usually indicate performance problems) we can use the business metrics for our before and after results (ROI) and then delvier the support whether it be updated procedures, SME online, short podcast, etc. Once the “noise” has settled down we collect the best of the solutions and put them into our search engine sytem/tool for others to acccess in the future.

      It would be great if you could share the CIPP model, this is not one I am up to speed on and would enjoy learning more!

      Posted by wjryan | October 3, 2012, 7:19 pm


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