A few days ago Epic began their Summer 2011 debate. The motion this year is
“This house believes that as social learning increases, so the requirement for traditional training departments shrinks”.
I was asked to participate in this debate, and chose to speak FOR the motion.
I chose to speak FOR the motion not because I believe the requirement for training departments will shrink, but because I believe the role for TRADITIONAL training departments will shrink. There is a BIG, BIG difference.
By “traditional training department” I mean one that focuses solely on creating, delivering and managing top-down formal learning – both face-to-face and e-learning.
Those of you who have read my piece, Leading Learning Forwards, will have seen the many reasons why commentators believe that traditional training/L&D departments need to change. And there are many! But one considerable factor is the increase in use of social media tools for learning.
Although those speaking against the motion want to separate out the use of social media tools from the concept of social learning, this is missing the whole point. It is precisely because social media tools are so powerful in providing new and powerful ways for individuals and teams to support their own social learning and collaborative working, that things are already changing in organisations.
As I showed in my Leading Learning Forward piece, Forrester reports a huge percentage of people in organisations using their own devices and tools to support their jobs, and a CLO survey shows how up to 2/3 of employees are actively working around L&D and IT departments to meet their own learning and performance needs.
But, as I said in my argument in the Debate, this shouldn’t be seen as a THREAT to L&D but an OPPORTUNITY, because they now have have the tools and the potential to encourage and support continuous learning and performance improvement across the organisation – not just through formal training but through other powerful new social ways.
Consequently a vote FOR the motion is not a vote to sound the death knell of the training department, but on the contrary a vote FOR evolving (and expanding) the role of the department into one that more effectively supports organisational learning in the 21st century.
I am already working with a number of forward thinking organisations who are changing the way that their L&D departments operate, and for those who would like more help in putting this into practice, I will be sharing experiences on my website over the coming months.
But today I would like to share with you an email I received from a couple of learning professionals working in a large organisation in the UK, who after reading my Leading Learning Forwards piece wrote to me to say
“Thank you so much Jane, for helping us realise there is life after e-learning! We can now see an exciting future in our jobs.”
For those of you who haven’t yet voted in the Debate, I would like to urge you to vote FOR the motion, and in doing so vote for an exciting future in your own jobs.