UPDATE: Find out more in my book, Learning in the Modern Workplace 2017
In July 2016 I read a number of blog posts and articles that argued the case for a radical rethink of the role of L&D in today’s workplace. Here are just three.
The first one, It’s the Company’s Job to Help Employees Learn written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Mara Swan (HBR 18 July) made a number of significant points. Here are a few soundbites:
“most jobs today demand … the capacity to keep learning and developing new skills and expertise, even if they are not obviously linked to one’s current job”
“a major pillar in Google’s recruitment strategy is to hire “learning animals””
“Sadly, most organizations have yet to wake up to this reality, so they continue to pay too much attention to academic qualifications and hard skills, as if what entry-level employees had learned during university actually equipped them for today’s job market.”
“workplace learnability is far less structured and formulaic than college learnability, and employees must juggle the tension between the demand for the short-term efficiencies of productivity with the long-term quest for intellectual growth”
“So how can managers do a better job of fostering learnability in the workplace? Select for it … Nurture it … Reward it”
For me, this is what today’s L&D department should be focusing on … helping their people become learning animals.
Josh Bersin also writes how there now seems to be a clear recognition that L&D role needs to change, in Using Design Thinking to Embed Learning in Our Jobs (HBR, 25 July)
“As I talk with learning and HR executives around the world, I hear these issues coming up everywhere. In fact, our recent research on global human capital trends shows that 84% of business leaders cite the “need for improved organizational learning” as a top priority, and 44% say it’s urgent.
Unfortunately, the problem is not one of designing better programs or simply replacing or upgrading learning platforms. Rather, there is something more fundamental going on — a need to totally rethink corporate L&D, to shift the focus to design thinking and the employee experience.”
And Mary Slaughter, in Stack the learning deck: Embrace new skills and roles to build a “full-stack” L&D function (HR Times, 21 July) also makes the case for a different approach
“Today corporate learning is less about developing and conveying content and more about enabling people to adapt, contribute, and excel throughout their careers. This shift has created the need for a much broader definition of what it means to be a learning professional.”
This new full-stack L&D function includes a range of professionals, not only those with “classic” degrees in teaching or instructional design but also people with knowledge of data science, neuroscience, marketing, user interface and user experience design, application development, information design, and content development.
It includes people who can think holistically about what the business needs and what learners need to support the current and future business.”
The issue for many is what they should be doing now to make these radical changes – after all as Josh Bersin says above it is not about “designing better programs or simply replacing or upgrading learning platforms”; it requires something more fundamental – “a need to totally rethink corporate L&D”. I have been working with a number of L&D teams around the world helping them make significant changes to what they do – using an approach I refer to as Modern Workplace Learning #MWL.
Modern workplace learning doesnt mean a new, modern learning platform but a new, modern understanding of what it means to learn at work #mwl
— Jane Hart (@C4LPT) July 27, 2016
I wrote about what this change might look like in my Modern Workplace Learning in my book which I released at the end of 2015, but since that time I have been building on this work, so from September I’ll be running a new MWL challenge where I shall be sharing a lot of new ideas on how to do things differently as well as do different things. If you’d like to find out more and/or to share what you have been doing to radically rethink the role of L&D, then come and join us.