In No more “learners” Jay Cross uses the preacher-congregation metaphor to show the dysfunction in our educational and training systems. Much as the Reformation, sped by the new technology of the printing press, ushered in an era of believing and thinking for ourselves, we have the makings of our own Learning Reformation.
The removal of overt rules (Jay uses traffic signs as an example) can empower people, while thinking of them as just “learners” is condescending and plays to the power game of teacher-students. Let’s face it, especially in light of how our institutions have screwed up the world, we all have to be learning together.
In The future of the training department, Jay and I put forth the idea that in order to help organizations evolve in a complex environment we have to move away from training delivery and focus on Connecting & Communicating. Workers, provided the right tools and resources, can figure out what they need to learn. Tony Karrer has picked up on this, as has David Wilkins.
Here are some suggestions for people in training organizations as they shift to supporting the networked workplace:
- Be an active & continuous learner yourself (e.g. personally manage your knowledge).
- Be a lurker (passive participant) & LISTEN
- Communicate what you observe.
- Continuously collect feedback, not just after formal training (yes there’s still a place for some of this).
- Make it easy to share information by Simplifying & Synthesizing.
- Use Networks as research tools.
- Identify learning skills and develop them in yourself and others [thanks, Clark]
All of these skills are dependent on #1. You can read about being a good learner and then put the book back on the shelf, but learning is a process and leadership by example is needed. Be an example.
Q: What’s the best way to use social media in your organization?
A: Start by using them yourself.
Steve Simons recently wrote:
I read with interest your article “The future of the training department”, particularly the last paragraph. As an IT trainer in the UK (I train on a contract basis for large organisations), I’ve often wondered what uses people will get from their learning. Sometimes my general feeling is “none”. Your phrase “shift the focus to creativity, innovation, and helping people perform better, faster, cheaper” really hit the spot with me.
I recommended the book From Training to Performance Improvement to Steve, as it helps get training departments out of the “solution looking for a problem” approach. As much as books like this are a good start, a shift to performance improvement is not enough. There is no single best approach and we need to bring in other frameworks such as connectivism, wirearchy and social network theory. The era of silos is over.
Here’s some advice for anyone in charge of a training department:
No single, sure-fire, cookie-cutter approach can be implemented in a top-down or consultant-driven manner to create a networked workplace performance model that works for “your” organization. Don’t believe the hype that one technology or one method will save you, because no single method in the past has done that. You have the best knowledge about your organization. You may need some direction, support, data, advice or a sounding board, but you have to create your own inter-dependent network.
Photo: “Triptych – Place of illumination” by Angelrays