Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Traditional Approach to Learning Doesn't Work Anymore

Whereas the traditional management pursued an ethos of efficiency and control, often treating both employees and customers as things to be manipulated, the new paradigm thrives on the ethos of imagination, exploration, experiment, discovery and collaboration. It deals with employees and customers as independent, thinking, feeling human beings. It embraces complexity as an opportunity, rather than a hurdle to be overcome. - Steve Denning, The Management Revolution That's Already Happening 

The biggest implication for traditional approach to learning and development is that it doesn’t work anymore. Fifty years ago, efficiency and control were the tools of choice because organizations were dealing with low or semi-skilled employees and the main focus was to increase production values and control costs. All training initiatives were aligned to these outcomes and top-down, push learning was the choice of the day. 

The realities of business have changed. Organizations have to be competitive, flexible and extremely responsive to these new realities. In this environment, the ‘one-size fits all’ approach to learning doesn’t work. With a shelf-life to skills, employees have to constantly keep learning. 

To address this new reality, organizations must realize that:  
  • Training is not learning. Work is learning. 
  • Learning is not about courses and training days; it is ongoing and happens everywhere.
  • Performance is not how many hours people work; it is how much value they add to their work. 
Organizations need to move away from encouraging efficiency and control towards enabling effectiveness and self-directed behaviours. L&D departments have to be where the learners are. They need to explore the themes of personalization and customization synchronized with the work context and tied to specific performance outcomes. 

In this new reality, curation, informal learning, social learning and learning enhanced with technology will play a significant role in helping organizations design more adaptive, agile and modern learning experiences.