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The State of Learning
Learning in today’s companies is much like teaching someone to ride a bike. At the end of the day, the question isn’t what resources you provided but rather whether they can perform the task at hand.
I continue to be perplexed by the state of our learning community. The evidence that learning has a critical role to play now and in the future continues to pile up, but we won’t be successful without necessary transformations.
It’s time for change. About 60 to 70 percent of operating costs are related to our people. We are losing our tacit knowledge to retirement; the demographics clock continues to march inexorably forward as baby boomers exit with years of experience. More and more ink is being devoted to talent management, knowledge transfer and leadership development. New quantitative studies show that historic approaches to identifying talent and making investments are not necessarily the best approach. The drumbeat goes on.
Yet in the face of all of these external drivers, my sense is that innovation and leadership from the learning community lags. Put simply, the approaches being supported are tentative and incremental. Bold action is required, and I simply do not see any action emerging from our community at the present moment.
Much of what is being discussed is highly tactical. Tools take center stage in many of these conversations. I would like to propose an alternative to the current suggestions. A shift in focus is necessary due to the challenges we face in senior management discussions.
The fact is learning organizations have made little progress in participating in strategic conversations. Activities are still counted while impact goes largely unaddressed. Outcomes are what senior managers care about. They are particularly interested in outcomes measured in financial terms because that is how they are being held accountable by shareholders.
To focus the conversation about outcomes, I use an analogy about learning to ride a bicycle. The point of the analogy is that it’s not about the curriculum; it’s about actually riding the bike. Let’s assume that we have the very best instruction manual, curriculum design, the most qualified instructor and an excellent assessment tool to determine if the student fully comprehends the material. This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, the real question to be answered is: Can the student actually ride the bike? Riding the bike is the real objective.
Microlearning — Size DOES Matter
June 20th 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
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