It’s not about adding technology to training, but about changing training

brain-20424_640Which technology will be the gamechanger? This is a question I am often asked, and when I read Jane Bozarth’s post on Changing the Game, her answer hit the nail on the head. She said …

“The thing that is going to change the game is – the learners ….

They are changing the concept of training, and we are increasingly moving toward an age in which the adult worker will not sit still for training that just looks like more “school”. They’re becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of how learning looks and how it happens. We’re going to have to figure out how to provide better performance support, in smaller bites, in places easy for them to access. And we’ll need to offer time and space and support so they can create the user-generated help that others need.

And if we don’t? They won’t wait for us. They’ll find the means to do it anyway.”

I’d go further and say adding technology to training is often akin to putting lipstick on the pig -” a superficial or cosmetic change that is a futile attempt to change the nature of the product”. What is needed is a new “training” process or rather a new approach to solving performance problems.

As I wrote in my previous post, workplace learning is no longer something that is wholly owned and managed by L&D; everyone now has access to resources and tools to solve their own problems. So the (new) role of a Learning Consultant is to work closely with teams and individuals in order to enable and support solutions that best suit them. This change in approach takes place in a number of key ways:

From instructional design to collaborative solution-finding 

Traditionally the process starts with L&D undertaking a TNA to address the perceived training problem. At which point an instructional designer works with a SME to storyboard the content for the training solution. However, as Nick Shackleton Jones has graphically shown (see image to the left), this approach can lead to a big difference in what is thought to be needed and what is actually needed.

What works better is for the Learning Consultant to facilitate a collaborative event with the teams and individuals concerned to identify (a) not only the actual performance (or learning) problem, but also (b) a range of solutions that might help to solve that problem – including any non-learning type solutions (like amending team or organisational  procedures), as well as (c) what performance changes or improvements will need to have taken place in order for the problem to have been addressed.

From development to co-creation

When it comes to developing the solution(s), once again it is not a matter of the Learning Consultant taking over the task – and delivering a fully-formed resource for them, but is more about helping the team to co-create their own solution. A great example of this is the collaboration platform that was built for LV= customer service reps. This initiative has now won a number of awards, and (as a judge for one of the awards) I am convinced its success is wholly due to the fact that it was the CSR team themselves who identified this approach as the solution to their problem, rather than it being imposed upon them.

From tracking learning to measuring performance change

Finally, the success of the solution(s) needs to be measured in terms of the performance change that has taken place, as defined in the solution identification event rather than in terms of the activity that has taken place. After all activity does not equal learning, and indeed any so-called learning intervention may have only been partly responsible for the performance improvement. At the end of the day it is the performance change that is the main thing; any learning will have only have been a means to that end.

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