I had several personal responses to my last post that can best be summed up as, “me too!” One person recounted an internal client who had to have a CBT although what really was needed was a job aid the workers could hang on their badge lanyards for quick reference! It was a reader who shared with me Jane Hart’s recent post on changing the role of L&D. She is visually describing what I am calling strategically social. There is a need to expand and blend the solution modalities to include training, performance support systems, and the personal knowledge networks we have always had in the workplace that now, through the use of social technology, extend beyond our location and often past our employer. Indeed, as an L&D professional, we need to cultivate the extended resource network within our business world and help our internal expert’s develop and expand theirs so we can provide solutions quickly. It is about who you know and who knows someone else to help build capability in the community by knowing what you can “do” with the knowledge and expertise the extended community has!
By and large we interact with people in communities that are not sitting next to us, who may not be based in an office, and may be in aligned or competing businesses. I know that for me my resources are far broader than L&D, far deeper than topic alone, and enhanced by the interactions that include differences in culture, tools, and assumptions than mine yet we are connected. In our role as solution facilitator we can help our learners, who may also be our SME’s, share their knowledge and experiences with each other both in key needs that are on their way to becoming “issues” and as an integral part of their learning transformation, the building of the personal learning network that will be a part of their daily up skilling of knowledge and skills, a professional development methodology for the new millennium.
Instead of developing and delivering a training “class” or “course”, Jane refers to this as “packaged”, (what I highlighted in Business is changing – are we keeping up?) she describes the new process as “working in partnership with the relevant team or group in the organization”. Pulling people into “training” is time consuming and costly with poor retention metrics that make our business partners wonder why they sent them to training. We need to implement a strategic performance solution focused on existing employees who need to up skill or modify behaviors that reflect changes in the business process they need to “do”. We need to connect the individual to the experts and connect them to the learning and performance objects that will solve the problem they have and, ultimately, bridge the gap of knowledge and deliver the solution that will lead them to consistent performance success. We can tap into our strengths nurturing and coaching SME’s to enable them to quickly connect, via webcam, chat, or tweets to the community with the problem. We know how to interview and pull information from the “experts” and help translate it to newer employees. We must get past the need to create, design, and deliver content and we should create and foster multiple learning networks that meet the personal and social needs of the communities we serve while creating connections to learning rather than controlling the learning process.
Hart’s model includes when training is appropriate (noted in red below) and highlights how we move towards real time support that will lead to personal development and capability building (blue sections below). The future she describes will include scaffolding or “a framework – ie the infrastructure (platforms, tools etc.) as well as the right conditions for learning and performance support and improvement to take place.” This is becoming more important as our organizations change, as internal experts retire, and the new experts we cultivate are probably not planning to be long time employees, they are what Julian Stodd calls, “innovative entrepreneurs.” These ‘new artisans of the network era” are knowledge nomads moving as businesses hire and fire as the market changes. The opportunity we have is to identify, nurture, and coach these knowledge experts and tap their expertise and the knowledge they have in the networks they access and bring it back to the learners we serve.
So you started in training and elearning and now you have some communities of practice, collaborative groups, and social learning is on the horizon. Have you created cohorts of peers? Are you identifying who the influencers are in the community? Are you coaching them, are you getting them engaged professionally? Have you brought a problem to the community that needs to be “crowd-sourced” and solved across organizational boundaries (may be time to ask forgiveness…)? Are you ready to frame the conversation around developing capabilities to enhance performance and develop true talent management?
If not now, when?