Only Smart Companies Will Win

The Inevitable Future of Learning


As recently as eight or ten years ago, transforming your organization’s culture from a teacher-led training culture to a learning culture, driven by digital technology, may have been a matter of managerial preference.  Today, it’s an absolute necessity.

The change to digital technology is so profound, so dramatic that it can be compared to the invention of the printing press in 1450 or Edison’s success in making electric lighting commercially viable in the 1880s. We are only now beginning to see the changes.

Digital communication is changing everything about learning. In a recent report on global human capital trends, Bersin by Deloitte advised organizations to look at the ways people learn in their organization and “Prepare for a revolution.”

With all due respect to Bersin by Deloitte, we think their timing is a bit off. The revolution isn’t coming, it is here. In our kids’ K-12 classrooms, changing the ways they learn. Anyone can now be a publisher or a video producer and provide news channels for knowledge. Performance support systems, virtual classes, video conferences and more are finding their way into individual departments and divisions of many companies. Yet the technology is not significantly changing the way we learn in our organizations.

ATD’s 2014 State of the Industry Report confirms that instructors still reign supreme in workplace learning, with 70% of formal training hours delivered by an instructor in a classroom.

While we’ve eagerly adopted digital technology and the changes it has brought to our personal lives, the vast majority of organizations have not seemed to grasp the need to adapt our organizational lives so they embrace the possibilities presented by the digital world. Either they are resistant to the change or simply don’t know how to go about making the change.

In fact, relatively few leaders have fully grasped what enormous benefits there can be in transitioning their training culture to a learning culture and changing the way their employees learn. This is true despite evidence showing that significant value accrues to organizations that make the transformation from one culture to the other.

I have an spent my entire career defining, designing, developing, delivering, and evaluating corporate education programs around the world. When I started, the model was all “push.”  Now it’s becoming “pull”.  About creating an organizational culture that supports people in automatically finding what they need to learn, when they need it, anytime and anywhere. Learning at the point of need.

Susan Fry, Stephen Gill and I have written a whitepaper to answer questions about what we believe is the inevitable future of learning:

  • What is a “learning culture”?
  • Why is creating a learning culture is critical to my organization’s future success?
  • How can I assess progress toward changing my organization’s culture?
  • What are the key elements of a roadmap that I can follow to get started?

If you’re interested in receiving a free copy, leave a comment.

What do you think about the idea of the learning culture?

dilbert on training


  1. Allison Rossett · April 7, 2015

    Learning culture is more important than any other lever. Agreed. More important than mobile or scenarios or podcasts, even from TED, more important than great coffee and treats at events. It’s also more difficult to move and sustain. Eager to see what you all say about it.


    • Sue Fry & David Grebow · June 16, 2015

      Thanks Allison. Steve and I could not agree more. We both have watched US corporations spend furious amounts of money and time on the ed-tech solution du jour, crazy quilting their way to a lower and lower Corporate IQ, while the rest of their global competitors large and small wasted no time or money and jumped to a learning culture model – the same way the developing world took to mobile phones (which we invented) and skipped billions of dollars and millions of hours on landline infrastructure. We’re hopeful that companies will realize they can be learning cultures if enough of us who have a voice in this industry speak louder than the vendors who have dominated the learningscape for years.


  2. Rebecca Green · July 8, 2015

    I’ve just returned to the training world after several years offline. I’m very interested in jumping in at the level of learning culture. I have much to learn!


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