Workplace Learning: Beyond Training

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been posting recently about the need for change within  L&D – to move from a focus on training to supporting the wider "learning" and performance needs of employees.  (My recent summary posting is here and my State of Learning in the Workplace article looks at the bigger picture) 

My colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance (Jay Cross, Jon Husband, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn) have, of course, also been saying the same thing now for some time in many of their postings on their own blogs. 

Although I know that many others do have the same views on this, when talking at conferences or other events I sometimes think the message is falling on deaf ears.   However, recently, I have come across a number of other blog postings and articles that also reiterate and reinforce the need for change.

I am going to write a fuller magazine article about this, but thought in this brief posting I would link to some of the recent articles and postings of note.

Laura Overton, from Towards Maturity,wrote in a posting about the need for change due to cuts in the public sector.Cuts, Change & Collaboration. She summarises by saying:

"So 2010 has to be a year of ‘immediate and decisive action’ for those
serving the public sector. In response to government directives for 
cuts cuts cuts & cuts, L&D need to take  decisive action that 
leads to change, collaboration, community and communication!"

Donald Taylor has written a piece entitled Training needs to change and risk irrelevance, where he says

"The opportunity is clear: at last training should be able to take the
initiative and prove its value to the organisation. It should be able to
embed learning in the fabric of daily life  … The threat is simple: if we don’t this, others will."

In fact, others are already doing!  It's not IT, but employees themselves.  A recent report about the consumerisation of IT analysed in the posting, Do you know where your employee's smarthone is, shows some interesting stats, e.g.

IWorkers report using an average of four consumer devices and
multiple third-party applications, such as social networking sites, in
the course of their day.

IWorkers in the survey reported that they are using
smartphones, laptops and mobile phones in the workplace at nearly twice
the rate reported by employers.

IWorkers are routinely using consumer technologies and applications for
business, but give their employers poor grades for the internal IT
support they provide for these technologies.

Today, Mark Berthelemy, posts about Capita's Learning to Change report, based on the opinions of senior decision makers among the UK’s largest
500 firms, and provides some more alarming statistics, e.g.

More than half (52%) describe their L&D function as slow to respond
to the changing requirements of their business during economic

As strategic objectives have evolved, close to half (46%) of senior
managers report no significant change in the training delivery to their

And the big one for me

Half (50%) believe that their L&D function is stuck in a ‘business
as usual’ mindset.

As Mark summarises:

"Is there still a place, in today's complex and rapidly changing market,
for a learning and development function that just sees itself as a
provider of training?"

I think not; it clearly is now time for change .. but one which opens up huge opportunities for L&D to really make a difference in their organisations.

9 thoughts on “Workplace Learning: Beyond Training

  1. Ben

    Last week my company lost out on a public sector tender which had asked for a new online learning system.
    The key reason for loosing out on the work? And I quote, verbatim, from the L&D department in question:
    “It is not the intention of this particular system we are looking for to build organisational knowledge”.

  2. Jane Hart

    Mark, probably not on blogs and Twitter! Maybe even not at conferences. We will just have to keep on saying it in different forums, won’t we?

  3. Jane Hart

    Ben, sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last time we hear those kind of remarks. But I think as the public sector cuts hit, there’s going to HAVE to be changes.

  4. David Grebow

    The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “That’s funny.” — Isaac Asimov
    I think there are many parallels but the one that stands out for me is medicine and the adoption of germ theory.
    It took the ‘pathogenic theory of medicine’ – germ theory – almost 50 years to win over the hearts and minds of doctors and nurses. Well into the 20th century, physicians still believed it was “miasmas” from filth or poverty and immorality that caused disease.
    It was not because germ theory was such a brilliant idea. It was because an entire generation of people who practiced medicine died, and the new younger doctors and nurses adopted the new idea and it finally took over.
    I hope Learning 3.0 will be more rapidly adopted …

  5. Dave Goodman

    Let’s assume that people/employees totally bypassed the L&D organization (except for the mandatories). Would it really matter? The executives would say – “see, I told you training wasn’t important”. The staff would say -“thank God, those Articulate courses were boring be crazy”. Do we really need an L&D unit? In the past, we had the Quality Control or Process Improvement units and they went away.So, this blog might ask:is it time for L&D to go away? should a new unit be formed by operations/revenue people? what would it look like? how would the corporate organization handle new freedoms of learning? should we assist in its demise?
    We in the L&D environment have some of the greatest names in history and philosophy as are forebears. Is the best that we can give back include discussions about SCORM, learning objectives and learning styles? You and I are better than that. If we assume that 2010 is a starting point, then lets create an entirely new learning world and leave the little discussions to little minds. Amen. The preacher has left his soapbox!!

  6. Jane Hart

    Dave – all very good and pertinent questions – that we at ITA have been thinking about for some time. Let us know more of your ideas on this.

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