Revolutionize Learning and Development

#Chat2lrn is delighted to have a guest post from Clark Quinn. Clark Quinn, Ph.D., is a recognized leader in learning technology strategy, helping organizations take advantage of information systems to meet learning, knowledge, and performance needs. His approach is learning experience design, combining what we know about how people think and learn with comprehension of technology capabilities to meet real needs. He combines a deep background in cognitive science, a rich understanding of computer and network capabilities reinforced through practical application, considerable management experience, and a track record of strategic vision and successful innovations. He is a well regarded speaker and author on human performance technology directions. You can follow Clark on Twitter: @Quinnovator. See more of Clark’s views on this subject in his book Revolutionize Learning & Development.Revolutionize Learning & Development , Clark N. Quinn


 

Is Learning & Development achieving what it could and should? The evidence says no. Surveys demonstrate that most L&D groups acknowledge that they are not helping their organizations achieve their goals. It’s worse than the cobbler’s children, because they at least got others shoed, but here we’re not getting ourselves effective enough to help anyone else. Where are we falling apart?

My short answer is that we’re trying to use industrial age methods in an information age. Back then, one person thought for many and our training was to get people able to do rote tasks. There wasn’t a real need for knowledge work, and we were happy to filter out those who couldn’t succeed under these conditions. In this day and age knowledge work is most of what contributes to organizational success, and we want to foster it across the organization.

To succeed, there are a few things we need to get into alignment. The simple fact is that much of what is known about how we think, work, and learn isn’t being accounted for in L&D practices. We use courses to put information into the head, but there’s clear evidence that our thinking is distributed across information in the world. It’s also hard to get information into the head. So we should be focusing on putting as much information into the world as we can. We also now know that the way to get the best outcomes is to get people to work together, and that silos and hierarchies interfere. If we want the best outcomes, we want to facilitate people working and playing well together. Finally, we know that learning should involve models to guide performance, be emotionally engaging, and have sufficient, appropriate, and spaced practice. All of this is antithetical to so-called rapid elearning.

Underpinning this is the fact that we’re measuring the wrong things. We’re out of alignment with what the business needs; when we’re measuring how much it costs per seat per hour, we’re worrying about efficiency, and we’re paying no attention to effectiveness. It’s taken as a matter of faith that ‘if we build it, it is good’, and that’s empirically wrong.

Quite simply we need a revolution; a fundamental shift in what we value and what we do. It’s not redefining what we do completely; e.g. courses are still a viable tool, but they’re just one part of a bigger picture. There are two things organizations need: optimal execution of those things they know they need to be able to do, and continual innovation to adapt to the increasingly complex environment. Courses are only a part of the first, and essentially irrelevant to the latter. We need to incorporate performance support for one thing, and sponsoring innovation is about facilitating communication and collaboration. That comes from using social media (all of it, not just technology) in appropriate ways.

The upside is big. We can, and should, be the key to organizational outcomes. We should be designing and fostering a performance ecosystem where people can work in powerful ways. We should be shaping culture to get a workforce that is motivated and effective. If we do so, we’re as fundamental to organizational success as anything in the business. I suggest that this is an achievable goal and emphasize that it’s a desirable goal.

To get there, you need to ‘think different’. You need to shift from thinking about learning and training, and start thinking about performance. You need to take development to mean facilitation. L&D should be Performance & Development, or even Performance and Innovation. That’s the promise, and the opportunity. Are you ready to join the revolution? Your organization needs it.

Let’s discuss in #chat2lrn this week.  See you on Thursday, May 7th 8:00 am PDT / 11:00 am EDT / 4:00 pm BST.

Civility in the World and in the Workplace

This post is written by one of our facilitators, Patti Shank, so it may not reflect the opinions of the entire Chat2lrn crew.

I find the world to be a far less civil place than the one in which I grew up. Tolerance today seems to mean tolerance for those who share the same opinion. I’d like to see a return to civil discourse. One where we can learn from each other without  being in fear of being called names.

I see people expressing glee at putting others down. In fact, it seems to be a Facebook meme to do so. I told my Facebook friends a while back that I would be unfriending anyone that couldn’t act “civil.” And then I did so. I do not want to discuss things, even minor things, with people who do not know how to be tolerant and civil. The world has plenty of cruelness and I don’t see any purpose in adding to it. I am fine with spirited discussion. I learn a lot from it.

Civility must mean more than “politeness,” says Guy Burgess, Ph.D. and Heidi Burgess, Ph.D., Co-Directors, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado in their essay, The Meaning of Civility (http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/civility.htm). They discuss civility in public discourse meaning the need to:

  1. Separate people from the problem: Focus solutions and not upon personal attacks.
  2. Obtain technical facts: Resolve factual disagreements and when this isn’t possible, determine the reasoning behind differing interpretations of factual information.
  3. Limit misunderstandings: Make continuing efforts to understand the views and reasoning of opponents.
  4. Use fair processes in appearance and fact.
  5. Look for win/win solutions.

My workplace is civil. We often have extreme differences of opinions about work-related things and the world in general. I am often “over-ruled” by others. (Waaa.) But we argue the merits of a proposition (#2, above) rather than about the people involved (#1, above) and win/win solutions (#5) are usually sought. We’re not perfect, but after reading 1-5 above, I think we do quite well. I have been in organizations where this has not been the case and the outcomes have been devastating. People simply stop communicating, or communicate only in cliques.

In his book, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct, Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University has provided a list of twenty-five rules that are essential in connecting effectively with others, including:

  1. Acknowledging others
  2. Listening
  3. Being inclusive
  4. Respecting even a subtle “no”
  5. Respecting others’ opinions
  6. Keeping it down (and rediscover silence)
  7. Respecting other people’s time
  8. Thinking twice before asking for favors
  9. Refraining from idle complaints
  10. Not shifting responsibility and blame

How importance is civility in getting your work done? In being able to learn? In having a world worth living in? What is our role in restoring civility to a world run by email, cellphones, and multitasking? These are some of the questions I wanted my PLN to help me answer. I hope you will.

Getting from Reflection to Action – Guest Post by Dave Kelly

We are delighted to welcome Dave Kelly as our guest blogger this week to talk about reflecting on learning.

This chat has taken place; view the chat transcript here  the next #chat2lrn will be on Thursday 4 April, 08.00PST/11.00EST/16.00GMT

I’ve just returned from the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando. It was three great days chock-full of lots of learning content from a great number of really smart people. I love conferences, and learn a lot while attending them.  However, I’ve always felt that the most important part of the conference experience isn’t the conference itself; it’s what you do afterwards.

Reflections in Mirror BallReflection is a critical part of our learning process, and yet it’s something we rarely build into the learning programs we design.  Reflection provides an individual the opportunity to process the experience and build connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge.  That opportunity to pause, to reflect on the learning and build context within our own experiences is hugely powerful.

Whenever I attend a conference (or any significant learning experience) I try to allocate time over the next day or so to pause and reflect on what I’ve learned and consider what it is I will be doing differently as a result.

Two important points: I always try to schedule time within  a day or so of the experience.  Reflecting quickly is important, as it’s very easy to go back into the office and fall immediately back into our routines. Try to set aside some time to pause and think about what the most important things you learned about from the experience were, and how you can use that knowledge in your work.

The second point? Document and share what you have learned. This is a natural part of reflecting. It not only helps those you share your knowledge with, it also helps to better clarify and contextualize the learning for yourself. Share your reflections with your co-workers, your peers, and with the community at large (using the conference hashtag, if applicable).

Reflection is a hugely important part of the learning process. I think we, as learning professionals, need to provide more opportunities for reflection in the learning experiences we build. We tend to dump content without providing opportunities for reflection, and we need to change that. It’s through reflection that context is built, and it’s through context that learning becomes meaningful.

Please join us to discuss reflection on our own learning, and getting to action, on Thursday 21 March at 16.00 GMT and North America DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME CHANGE ALERT :: 12.00EDT/09.00PDT :: 

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

DaveKellyemail

LnDDave@gmail.com

twitter@LnDDave

informationhttp://davidkelly.me

Intra-transparency & Openness: Guest Post by Mark Britz

We are delighted to have Mark Britz as our guest blogger this week to prompt our discussion about Intra-transparency & openness.  Think about how transparency and openness, or the lack, might affect your organization, and bring your thinking caps to our chat this Thursday!

Welcome Mark!

Intra-Transparency and Openness

To begin let’s find common ground. Transparency and Openness are two quite popular terms today that often are used interchangeably and, although similar in relationship, are not identical. Here may be one way to think about it.

Transparency is not necessarily permeable. There is a membrane that separates the visible activities from those viewing them (ever see a mitochondria under a microscope?). Transparency should not be confused with invisibility either. With transparency, the membrane surrounding the activities is visible; a structure is clearly in place so the activities do not interact with those outside the membrane. Zoos then are transparent; Observers are free to observe but not to touch, or physically interfere. In organizations, similar membranes can exist, such as hierarchies.

Openness, however, allows a more free association between actions. A more permeable layer exists. With openness, interaction is not only welcome, it’s encouraged. Openness, to continue the zoo analogy, is more like a petting zoo; observers are free to observe but also to touch, stroke, feed and play. Through these interactions, the observers are co-creating the experience for all involved. Openness in organizations means that involvement between different groups takes place.

As noted, transparency and openness are typically discussed in terms of business, politics and government. But these two ideas are ultimately about people and their conscious decision to be transparent and open, as well as their actions and decisions within each action that encourages or defeats transparency and openness.

Most attention today is on transparency and openness at public, or “inter”, levels. And more and more are learning the importance of these ideas for themselves as they individually build Personal Learning Networks outside of the organization. It’s critical that the “intra” exists to invite innovation, flatten inhibiting hierarchies and create thinking, feeling organizations.

Can an organization be transparent and open externally, yet not so internally? Or is the lack of internal openness in the face of external openness unsustainable, as the hypocrisy will ultimately cause the organization to implode? And can the opposite ever be true? Can an organization with a transparent system maintain a closed public-facing persona, or is the membrane between intra in internets too thin?

It would seem, then, that there would need to be a mirroring of sorts as an organization is ultimately an organization of people, and people, being inherently social, are now endowed with tools to amplify, expand and connect their ideas and actions.

Clive Thompson, Wired Magazine stated:

“… The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less. Since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it. Being transparent, opening up, posting interesting material frequently and often is the only way to amass positive links to yourself and thus to directly influence your Googleable reputation.”

-Thompson, Clive (March 2007). “The See-Through CEO”. Wired.

Being truly transparent and open as individuals in an organization is much more than simply posting “interesting material”, a link, or narrating our work using social media tools. Although these tools do make it easier to communicate, that communication is hollow if it is devoid of opinions, challenge and even dissent. Transparency is a good and noble goal, but membranes that only reveal the interworking, allowing flaws to be seen but not corrected, fall short.

Openness is a major progression and, on an individual level, is scary, especially in uncertain economic times. But without openness, trust cannot exist (look at any good marriage). Openness must be welcomed within and across levels. It should not only be encouraged, but modeled and acknowledged. Workers locked in industrial era ideas about work, hierarchies and jobs need to know that it’s safe to reveal their own strengths, weaknesses and opinions to truly move the organization.

Former CEO Margaret Heffernan in a recent TED Talk titled Dare to Disagree stated:

“Most of the biggest catastrophes that we’ve witnessed rarely come from info that is secret or hidden. It comes from info that is freely available – we can’t, don’t want to handle the conflict it provokes. When we create conflict we enable the people around us to do their very best thinking.”

On April 14th, 1912 The SS Titanic, led by Captain E.J. Smith, moving at a reported 22 knots, raced to New York City. Ignoring warnings, foregoing lifeboat drills and maintaining a dangerous (record breaking) pace, she struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic. Hours later, she lay at the bottom of the ocean with over 1,500 tragically lost lives. In hindsight, the information was widely available, yet no one, it seems, challenged the decisions that had been made.

What prevented the crew from influencing decisions? What if transparency, and especially openness, had existed amongst the White Star Line’s layers of leadership?

Today the economy is strained; workers and organizations have an equal stake in the survival game. Never has the ability to connect been easier. Never before has the ability to have conversations become more available; to extend and expand ideas over time and space. Sharing information is not enough, processing ideas is not enough, filtering out the noise is not enough. Transparency and openness are needed, yet can they truly rise above and avoid the fate of becoming nebulous buzz words like engagement or synergy?

“Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential – but the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills, the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.”
“Openness is not the end, it’s the beginning.”

– Margaret Heffernan

Please join us on Thursday 16 August at 16.00 BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT to discuss intra-transparency & openness in our organizations.  Share your thoughts about how much you agree with Mark, the implications for your organization, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Mark Britz

Mark Britz

Mark describes himself as Manager of Learning Solutions, Social & Informal learning aficionado, eLearning Designer, ISD, Intapreneur, CNY ASTD President and #lrnchat -er. You can find Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/britz and read his blog at http://learningzealot.blogspot.com/

On-Fire Learning: Guest Post by Tom Spiglanin

Image

We are delighted to welcome Tom Spiglanin as our guest blogger this week who is sparking this week’s discussion about On-Fire Learning. 

fireIn a recent article, I described on-fire learning as, ‘what the self-directed active learner does at every turn and with every opportunity, zealously looking to grow with each new experience and encounter, always seeking to improve performance.’

In short, the on-fire learner never misses an opportunity to learn something, and that learning is often serendipitous. When the new knowledge is merged with the existing, new ideas are synthesized, and ideas are the fuel of innovation.

From birth, we’re always learning. Some of this is “pre-wired,” such as learning to crawl, stand, walk, talk, run, and more. Much learning is experiential, between the individual and the environment: I burn my hand on the hot pan and learn to sense heat before touching it the next time. Early learning is also social. Rules are learned from authorities, and many of those rules are broken with other children.

Children are so marvelously inquisitive.

Somewhere along the way, most people lose that natural inquisitiveness. They go to schools where rules are expected to be followed. Learning becomes formal and standardized. As they age, play becomes less free-form and more organized. After school-age ends, many head to universities to pursue more formal education. People become employed and are subjected to new rules and expectations. Outside work, they take on financial responsibilities that make successful employment that much more important. The life of Peter Pan, never growing up, looks more and more attractive.

The organization’s perspective

Many organizations followed the university model of instruction when it came to developing employees, placing sage on stage and asking him or her to share what they know in classrooms. New technologies later enabled students and instructors to be distributed around the world, and elearning offered an alternative delivery mechanism. All the while, the underlying approach to education in the workplace remained largely unchanged.

Online social media are now causing organizations to look differently at workplace learning. These media offer new ways of connecting employees with experts and information within the workplace, and the traditional approach of sage on stage no longer fits. While I see these developments as significant steps in a positive direction, they still meet only a small fraction of an individual’s performance and development needs. Research studies suggest, “that informal learning accounts for between 70 and 95% of workplace learning” (Jarche, Informal rule of thumb).

Encouraging informal learning

Because creativity and innovation are a natural result of an on-fire learning style, and because online social media now connect individuals to others and information in ways never before possible (more fuel for the fire), organizations today need to find ways to develop (or foster) self-directed, on-fire learners in the workplace.

Adapted by Tom Spiglanin from Wikimedia commons artwork by user Gustavb and released to the public domain.

Individuals need to be empowered to develop knowledge networks and filter knowledge they gain from them for the benefit of their workplace. At the same time these organizations struggle with concerns about exposing intellectual property or proprietary information, so they create policies to protect against that but may also inhibit or stifle on-fire learning.

In my post, “Social Learning from the Employee’s Perspective,” I identified three things I believe organizations can focus on to encourage self-directed “on-fire” informal learning among employees:

  • awareness of knowledge networks and the value they offer for personal and professional development;
  • recognizing that interacting with others through online social media often results in learning, whether it was an expected outcome or not; and
  • stimulating and encouraging employees to proactively use knowledge networks to benefit their performance in the workplace.

As learning & development professionals, we can lead the charge toward this rekindling, by becoming the change we want to see and igniting and supporting change in those around us.  We are in a unique position to influence the organization through our work and connections to the disparate functions of the business.  We should take advantage of that wherever possible to encourage and support our organizations to reap the benefits from what we know and continue to learn.

Please join us on Thursday 19 July at 16.00 BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT to discuss becoming and encouraging on-fire learning in our organizations.

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Tom Spiglanin
Tom Spiglanin

For almost fifteen years, Tom has been developing learning strategies, educational products, and instructional designs for the Learning Systems Center of The Aerospace Institute, the educational division of The Aerospace Corporation. He also facilitates learning public speaking and communication skills in the classroom and increasingly online using social media.Tom earned his Ph.D. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and his B.S. from the University of California at Riverside. All views expressed are his own and not those of his employer. You can find Tom on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomspiglanin and read his blog Thoughts about workplace learning

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes – Learning Scenarios – how is your world changing?

Forty years ago, in January 1972, David Bowie released the iconic song Changes.  Later that year, Atari launched their first video game, Pong, which interestingly enough was developed as a training exercise.  However in 1972, if you wanted to play Pong, you would have to go to a games arcade as it was another three years before the home version became available. Ten years later, in 1982, we were introduced to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

By the time we reached 1992 the term “Surfing the Internet” had been coined by Jean Armour Polly and by 2002, although mobile phones were becoming a part of our lives, we didn’t have 3G phones in the UK for another two years!  So now we find ourselves in 2012 and David Bowie has just turned 65.

As for technology, we take it for granted and when something goes wrong it can affect tens of millions of users and hit the headlines .  The impact technology has on our personal and working lives is something we could not have imagined forty years ago.  It has also changed the way we can access learning, if we want to find out about something, we simply ‘google’ it or pose a question on one of our social networks.

Technology is also having a huge impact on learning in the workplace, but in an ever changing world where will this take us? The pace of change is increasing exponentially and companies are going to have to keep reinventing themselves to even maintain their position in the marketplace never mind improve it.  There is going to be even more pressure for employees to continually improve performance and learn new skills.  So what will learning in the workplace look like ten years from now and what does the future hold for the corporate learning organisation?

This was the one of the challenges given to those who attended the Business Educa strand of Online Educa in December 2011. The outcome was the development of four different scenarios.   Not all of us could attend Online Educa, but we can now all contribute.

Working on the premise that learning is an integral and important constituent of any organisation’s process, it is important that those of us who seek to apply our expertise in the field are aware of the broad environment in which we operate. We live in a fast changing and uncertain world, so taking a bit of time to look at some possible scenarios for the future will help us understand both the freedoms and constraints that we are likely to encounter in the years ahead.  Understanding where our organisations are positioned and therefore the challenges they are likely to face in continuing their success in that changed world is critical to “learning people” understanding how to position and apply the new technology and understanding of the learning process to help ensure that success. BusinessEduca produced some possible scenarios to be used in wider debate about where and how learning will change.

As you read these scenarios ask yourself “What is my view of the world as it will be in 2022?”  Laura Overton , Managing Director of Towards Maturity has written an article summarising them. We will share those ideas and what leads from them when we tweet together in #chat2lrn on Thursday 19 January at 16.00 GMT/11.00 EST

Questions from today’s chat

Q1) On the scenario model, where do you see your organisation now?

Q2) What will the world be like in 2020, economically, socially, technologically?

Q3) What major changes does that vision suggest for organisations?

Q4) What changes will be required for learning in supporting organisations?

Q5) What opportunities open up for learning to add value to organisations?

and as promised, lets carry on the conversation:

Q6) What risks exist and how can they be overcome?

You can find a transcript of the tweetchat that took place here