5 Stages of Workplace Learning (Revisited Again)

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.

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Jane Hart

Founder at C4LPT
Jane Hart is an independent workplace learning advisor, writer and international speaker. She is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies. Her recent book Modern Workplace Learning: A Resource Book for L&D is now available, which she supports with a range of online workshops. Find out more about Jane at JaneHart.com.

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4 thoughts on “5 Stages of Workplace Learning (Revisited Again)

  1. Pingback: Education News / 5 Stages of Workplace Learning (Revisited Again)

  2. Lorelle

    Fascinating. Working both in academia and the tech industry, I completely agree. It is a fine line to walk, and helps to explain the drop in enrollment for higher ed. By the time modern students graduate from high school, they believe they are at stage five when they aren’t. It is an artificial state of self-confidence. Until they learn to learn beyond surface searches… you know the story.

    Thank you for this. Puts a beautiful perspective on the issue.

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  4. Pingback: 5 Stages of Workplace Learning (Revisited Again) | weiterbildungsblog

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