Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Workplace Learning and Me - 10 years from now...

For March 2009 Big Question is: Workplace Learning in 10 years.
"If you peer inside an organization in 10 years time and you look at how workplace learning is being supported by that organization, what will you see? What will the mix of Push vs. Pull Learning; Formal vs. Informal supported by the organization? Are there training departments? What are they doing? How big are they as compared to today? What new departments will be responsible for parts of workplace learning? What will current members of training departments be doing in 10 years?"

I am not good with predictions so this one is tough to really predict. But based on what the trends are, here is what I would like 2019 to be! Through the articulation of my thoughts, I am also trying to understand and etch my role as a performance consultant in the coming years.

From Trainers to Consultants:
In 10 years or even lesser, workplace learning will be largely supported by performance consultants. These folks will not be 'trainers'. Instead they will be people who can analyze performance and help others perform a job better. These consultants will understand the business and also the development method/process and continuously strive to optimize the people and process for a profitable business. There will be no conventional 'training departments' that are constantly trying to prove their worth in organizational training initiatives. Instead, performance effectiveness will be a business function.

More Pull, Less Push:
In terms of type of training, most training will be pull-type where learners will be interested to learn and therefore connect with the right resources and acquire knowledge. The learning process will have a series of activities - some may be 'designed' or sequenced. Others will be more random and self-generated by the learners - kind of like an ‘assembly’ where the learners will customize their own learning. There will still be some space for push learning in the form of new hire training or compliance training that forms a part of the 'mandatory' requirements. But largely, I foresee the learner to become stronger and focused about their learning needs.

Collaborative and Blended:
In the coming future, I see a big role of Web 2.0 tools and technologies that will encourage social and collaborative learning. ‘Traveling for training’ will become the least preferred mode. Learners will want that they should spend the least time away from work for training. Considering these expectations, blended methodologies will find a higher place in the scheme of learning scenarios. Training will break from traditional classroom barriers and formal methods to more online and more informal with increased social interaction. Personal Learning Environments will be identified, developed, and shared. Learners will network with other learners to learn. Much learning will be on-the-job, just-in-time, and just-enough!

My Role:
Although, I have already started to walk this path, I see myself moving away from the ‘traditional R&R of a Training Manager’ towards the ‘Performance Consultant’ role. I see myself moving away from ‘designing, delivering, and managing training’ towards a more business-focused, consulting role. In this role, I will be responsible for creating and nurturing learning environments across the organization – and these learning environments will impact the performance more strongly than before. Along with ‘training need analysis’, I will focus more on ‘business needs analysis’ and design suitable opportunities for people to learn and impact the business positively. I will have the bigger, holistic picture of the business and its learning needs and will interact with other functions including the HR towards creating a comprehensive talent development plan. I may still be within the ‘training department’ but will be a facilitator, coach, mentor, guide, catalyst, and a leader of learning!