One of the consultant’s dilemmas is that you have to stay ahead of the curve to remain relevant. Yesterday’s problem doesn’t need to be solved – there’s probably an app for that already. This is why “perpetual Beta” informs all of my work.

I used to work as a training designer but there’s really not much to differentiate one course from another. Training content development has become a commodity and many companies are forced to compete on price. Even performance consulting, a good part of my consulting business for the first five years, is becoming more commonplace (and that’s a good thing). I’m now focused on working smarter, helping organizations integrate learning into the workflow, especially using social media.

More and more people in the workforce are now facing the same challenges as consultants. How can they re-skill and provide services for today’s and tomorrow’s problems, not yesterday’s? Schools don’t help much, with curriculum that is developed looking back at best practices and only reviewed every few years. Off-the-shelf training programs sure aren’t of much use, having been reduced to the lowest, and simplest, common denominator.

As I work with our PKM Workshop, now in progress, I realize that I have to keep things up to date and reflective of the participants’ needs. Before I release an assignment or resource, I have to review it in light of the current context. Sometimes I add in new discoveries just hours before publishing. This is professional development in perpetual Beta. I think more and more professional programming will go this way in time. MOOC’s are another example of this non-fixed curriculum perspective.

There is no normal. We need to think like artists, less concerned with feedback and more focused on feedforward.

Thus, the artist’s job is to dislocate the old media through their art to reveal the ground effects of the new media. McLuhan’s observations are as relevant now as they were forty years ago: The artist is the person in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own time. S/he is the person of integral awareness. ~ Mark Federman

3 Responses to “Feedforward”

  1. Caroline Esterson

    I absolutely agree context is everything but was saddened by your comment about learning design. It is a sad fact that it has become a commodity with little to differentiate it but we shouldn’t settle for that. Much learning design doesn’t work – it’s simply not fit for purpose so as designers it is essential we challenge that norm and ensure that we do provide something that ALWAYS differentiates otherwise we will constantly be faced with the treat of restricted budgets and lack of credibility within organisations so let’s step up and ensure design is fit for purpose, is responsive to ever changing business priorities, applies the context and makes the difference required of it by not getting sucked in process but alwasy thinking about the outcome to be achieved.

  2. Bonnie Zink

    Harold, this is a fantastic post. As a knowledge worker, I’ve had to take responsibility for my own learning in order to stay relevant. Over the past ten years or so I’ve noticed that knowledge changes, ways in which we learn about that knowledge changes, and how we share the same knowledge certainly changes. Many of these changes are fast paced and it is up to me to keep up with the changes in order to be effective at my job.

    MOOC’s are an interesting concept and have certainly helped me remain current in the ways of the world and knowledge. I haven’t necessarily placed that name on my learning activities in the past, but it does fit. Joining communities, online and off, has helped me create, connect, and collaborate, especially as a knowledge mobilization worker, across the miles. The digital age has been a blessing in that I can now connect with the “rock stars” in my area quite easily and learn directly from the experts. The digital age has, in my opinion, allowed us to learn in ways that work for us. MOOC’s are just one way to do it.

    I’m currently taking the PKM course and appreciate “professional development in perpetual beta.” Keep on creating the content that matters, connecting with your students, and collaborating with the experts that help us all learn.


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