Training is only 5% of organizational learning, but for a long time this small slice has been the primary focus of most Learning & Development (L&D) departments. The other 95% was just taken care of by the informal networks in the organization. On-job-training in some cases, or just observation and modelling in others. Then a funny thing happened. All those informal networks became hyper-connected. First with web-links and later with ubiquitous mobile devices.
Take a look at social media. These manifestions of the current state of the web enable easy knowledge-sharing and, as Seb Paquet calls it, ridiculously easy group-forming. Social media are fantastic tools to support organizational collaboration and informal learning. But if you look around, L&D is almost never the initiator, nor the owner of, social media in the enterprise. The informal part of organizational learning is no longer the private purview of L&D, if it ever was. The new reality is that, at least implicitly, business units are realizing that work is learning and that they need to empower workers to learn and solve problems collaboratively.
- Design & Create Courses
- Enable Learning
- Support Learning
- Be a change agent for development
Only the first is related to what L&D has actually been doing. The other three are open for the taking in the networked workplace. They can be done by people from sales, marketing, communications or many other areas. It should not be a foregone conclusion that these roles will be filled by trainers. In my experience, trainers have often been let go during a transition to a more performance and social focused L&D function, replaced by people with other skills from varying backgrounds. The future will not be L&D 2.0 but rather a new organizational learning approach, where learning is integrated into the workflow. Many departments outside L&D are already staking this new ground and building their expertise.
The future is bright for organizational learning, but don’t think it will look like the past.
“A Sunset Through Rose Colored Glasses” by Josh Harper