Getting to Working Smarter

I started my military career as an infantry officer and then I worked as a health care administrator and finally as a training specialist. The move to the training field coincided with the creation of  the Web. I was also responsible for some fairly technical training as well as flight simulation. My immersion in technology had begun.

However, almost all of my focus was on individual training, or getting people to an operational level to either fly or fix an aircraft. As I’ve explained before, “individual training” is seen as a separate field from “collective training”. The graduates of our formal training programs would go on to do informal, collective training. The military has learned over time that a bunch of even highly-trained individuals do not make a cohesive unit. Each unit has to learn how to work together, hence the emphasis on collective training and especially pre-deployment training. Collective training is a good way to add all the context to formal training that has been stripped away by the school [yes, we called them schools].

The Training Development branch was also keen on performance improvement and much of our own professional development reflected the practices of human performance technology. HPT is a good framework, and is an excellent addition to instructional systems design (ISD), but over time I have found it to be inadequate to deal with a more complex workplace and address the social aspects of work. Collective and collaborative learning seems to be missing from HPT. For example, even the Army understands the value of story-telling.

My new focus, which is not a directional change but a progression based on experience, is Working Smarter. This takes the best from ISD, HPT and social learning and also incorporates knowledge management, organizational development, network and management theory to look at how we can develop the next practices that will inform networked organizations. As we say at the Internet Time Alliance, work and learning have become one and the same. Networks rule. Nothing is certain. Simply doing things better no longer guarantees prosperity or even survival.

Here is a slide presentation explaining how I came to focus on working smarter. It is a theme I will be discussing in several venues and countries over the next few months. This is my personal learning journey, and it’s not over yet.

2 Responses to “Getting to Working Smarter”

  1. Joost Robben

    Hi Harold!
    Your slide on HPT not being very human triggered me. It surprises me a lot that HPT says to be systemic and yet seems to focus on the “hard” side of organizations to improve performance (like workplace, equipment, or access to IT).
    How do you think the more soft aspects of an organization fit into this? Like organization culture, organization dynamics, intrinsic motivation and/or passion. Do you think the field is moving to also include these aspects?


    • Harold Jarche

      I don’t think “the soft aspects” fit into HPT, which is why it is only one methodology that I use. Social network analysis may be better to highlight how work really gets done between people.


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