Informal learning is a business imperative

In Part 2 of Social Learning doesn’t mean what you think it does, my colleague Jane Hart  uses a very helpful diagram created by a previous colleague of mine, Tom Gram:

Tom Gram’s diagram [reproduced below] shows that “most work requires a combination of knowledge work and routine work. These characteristics of jobs and work environments call for different approaches to training and development.” [see  Mapping informal and formal learning strategies to real work], so the work of the L&D department will be very different in different organisations, depending on the type of workers and work done.

I connected this to the whole notion of simpler work getting automated and outsourced usingTom’s framework.

I then created my own graphic and looked at what happens to work if this is true.

Supporting informal learning and helping connect tacit knowledge in the enterprise are now business imperatives, not just something extra. The valued work in the enterprise is increasing in variety and decreasing in standardization. It is moving to the edge. Organizations that do not optimize informal learning may themselves get automated and outsourced.

8 Responses to “Informal learning is a business imperative”

  1. Tom Gram

    Nice addition to the framework. I think the general direction is as you suggest, although there are many jobs and people working in routine and technician oriented roles(say a radiologist or lab analyst in Healthcare or an electrician for example) that would argue that while aspects of their work have been automated their roles are essential.


  2. Tom Gram

    Nice link…and they are Lawyers losing their jobs to automation. Time to move your “automated” arrow over to the Knowledge Work too. None of us are immune I suppose.

    • Harold Jarche

      Good point, Tom. We’ve been lulled into the notion that information processing is knowledge work, assuming that all lawyers are knowledge workers. I like Gary Hamel’s definition of the Creative Economy, where the traditional (industrial) employee traits of Intellect, Diligence & Obedience are becoming commodities (going to the lowest bidder). The Creative Economy requires more independent workers (like musical productions) with traits that can not be commoditized: Initiative; Creativity; Passion. So “knowledge workers” had best ensure that 1) they have more Task Variety than Routine Work and 2) they are valued for skills that cannot be commoditized.

  3. Samuel Driessen

    Ah, this is really good. This fits perfectly on two of my posts about the IT Flower (link below), relating types of work to supporting technology. Your diagram is an extra layer focused on types of work and learning. Love it!
    I’m also happy to see that the diagram shows that even in very structured work there’s still non-routine tasks. Just like in typical knowledge work, routine stuff like filling in hourly reports has to be done…

    Link to IT Flower posts:

  4. Karsten Ehms

    Dear Harold,

    why not take the chance and substitute “tacit” with “implicit” in the diagram. This would avoid epistemological pitfalls. Here is a machine translation, why it would be sensible:
    (“silent knowledge” to be substitued with “tacit knowledge” of course).
    Best regards,


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