In this post I take a look at how workplace learning has been changing over the last 5 years.
In May 2010 I posted a diagram I had created that showed what I considered to be the 5 stages of Workplace Learning. My Internet Time Alliance (ITA) colleague, Jay Cross, re-worked it so that I looked like this:
Back in my May 2010 post I also wrote:
“In my opinion most organisations are in Stage 3, but as the L&D conversation circles around the concepts of social and informal learning, I’m getting the impression that many are drifting into, what I would consider an interim stage, 4 ; which is simply adding-on social (and even informal) functionality to the traditional model of learning. One reason for this, is because this is where a lot of vendors are targeting their new products.”
In December 2011 I wrote that it was clear to me that some organisations had moved into Stage 4 But now (nearly 5 years on), writing in March 2015, Stage 4 has become mainstream – with “social learning” one of the hot L&D topics.
However, as I mentioned above, Stage 4 (Social Learning) is only about adding social into the traditional L&D approach: it’s not going to make a big difference to the effectiveness of the organisation as a whole. The more significant move will be when L&D helps to move their organisations into Stage 5 (Collaborative Working & Learning).
So what does it take to move to Stage 5? Well, as I explained back in May 2010 and December 2011, it’s not about new tools but a new mindset. Some of the key mindset changes that will move organisations into Stage 5 include the recognition that:
- “work is learning; and learning is the work” – as my ITA colleague Harold Jarche has for a long time explained, learning is a part of work, not separate from it
- learning in the flow of work needs to be enabled, supported and encouraged; not designed or managed – so it’s not just about adding and embedding but extracting learning from the work, as my ITA colleague, Charles Jennings, explain
- autonomous, independent and inter-dependent, self-directed learners are essential in an agile organisation – it’s not longer about taking on the impossible task of providing the workforce with everything they need to do their work, but helping to build a workforce that can survive in the new world of work
Those organizations already operating in Stage 5 understand that although formal training will continue to have a part to play in workplace learning, it is more important in today’s fast-moving workplace to support the continuous learning and performance improvement of teams and individuals. This is what will really make the difference to how the organisation as a whole learns, grows and thrives.
Looking for some help to move into Stage 5? You might find my upcoming workshops of interest.