If you scratch the surface of training and development in any organisation you realize that management doesn’t really care about learning; they want measurable performance. This is understandable and paying lip service to the learning organisation, et al, is a waste of time. At the organisational level, performance should be the only measure. However, there is much that cannot be measured and new work processes and skills are emerging in our digital economy. Management is usually the last to know about these, so they won’t likely be planning learning activities to support emergent processes.
In a complex work environment, where innovation is more important than following established procedures, responsibility for learning should be delegated to the lowest level – the individual worker. These workers should be encouraged to collaborate in their learning activities, with little or no direction from above. Bottom-up emergent processes are better in a changing environment because those at the coal-face best understand the issues, even if they may not be able to articulate them.
I would suggest that in a knowledge-intensive work environment, where workers already have some degree of autonomy, it would be best to give them complete control over their learning. Just drop the organisational learning function and concentrate on performance. Management must then keep open communications with workers and can develop tools that will support emergent processes as they develop. Management will always be one step behind in this process, but that’s better than being completely out of touch.
It is a better balance to let workers direct their learning and collaborate as they see fit (within limits of privacy, security, etc). The modern organisation should get out of the learning business and into the business of supporting its workers.