Exciting News From Me


FYI – Just heard that the book is starting to ship!

On December 1st my book, Minds at Work, co-authored with my friend Stephen J. Gill, will launch. The book is being published by ATD Press and there will be an exciting ATD webinar – MANAGEMENT & LEARNING WILL CHANGE FOREVER (AND YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW AND WHY)  – https://lnkd.in/gJHEXeN. 

Thanks for reading KnowledgeStar and I hope to see many of you there!

book and heasdshot

The Short Definition of “Real Learning”


Real learning is the ability to adopt what you know and know-how to do and adapt it under an everchanging variety of circumstances.

 

No point beating around the pedagogical bush. I’ve been asked by a number of readers “How would you define real learning?” Real learning is the ability to adopt what you know and know-how to do and adapt it under an everchanging variety of circumstances. Learning is an ongoing process. That’s my definition and I’m sticking to it.

Real Learning Versus Rote Learning

Learning in a classroom, actual or online, involves the use of short-term memory. It is all about remembering – regurgitating – then forgetting. It is rote learning, the encumbered and inhibited kind we are mostly used to doing. You remember the lesson, and show that you remember through a variety of tests and then move on. Moving on is all about forgetting. With two interesting and notable exceptions. Art. Science. The reason is simple. Art and Science require an evolving degree of knowledge from basic to advanced. Think learning to play the tuba or building a car. It’s the kind of subject matter that was always learned by apprenticing or being tutored by a master. You need basic math to get to algebraic equations and then onto experimental astrophysics. If you don’t master the fingering you cannot play a decent scale let alone get to a Bach sonata.

By contrast, real learning is somewhat like sleeping. (Not the sleeping you do when a sage-on-the- stage drones on in that sonorous monotone and lulls you into dreamland.) You do not “fall” to sleep, you go through a process of sleeping, through stages. If you’re constantly interrupted you wake up the next morning feeling like you had a bad night sleep. Real learning requires stages as well, and you cannot skip over any of them.

Playing Golf: Spaghetti on the Putting Green

Even though I do not play the game, I use golf as an example to explain the process of real learning. Interestingly a recent number of neuroscience researchers have been doing the same. They talk about reaching a point during the adoption phase where you peak at the physical learning part of the game, and you move on to the strategic or mental part. Your body has practiced so much it has really learned what to do, and now it’s on to the rest of you to learn to find the spot where you want the ball to go. Feel the wind. Sense the way the green curves. Before you get to that stage you spend a lot of time looking all over the place. They followed the eye patterns of novice golfers on a green, lining up a putt, and when they illustrated their eye movements it looked like someone had thrown a plate of spaghetti on the green. Lines and loops going every which way. With the top golfers, the eye patterns were a only few lines, most of them moving directly towards the cup.

When you have learned to play well enough, the body part of the learning to play golf is done, and your mind is free to focus focus focus. You reached the point where you are in the zone. It’s like sleep where you managed to avoid being interrupted until you reach Phase 5 – dreaming.

Why Do We Continue to Fake It?

Rote learning is an incredible waste of time and money. So much of what we learn in school, and in companies that have copied the schoolplace model into the workplace, is forgotten. It does not build on itself from experience. Not just experience in the sense of doing but even experience of knowing more. Even though history, for example, should take you from the Year One up until Today, and then deeper into every era, most of what you learn about history you quickly test and rapidly excrete. That’s just the way the system measures and rewards the student. It has nothing to do with really learning about history. Or any other subject as well. And it certainly fails miserably at providing the 21st century skills we need for the emerging Knowledge Economy.

My Story About History and Herstory

Side note: An alternative example of real learning. I had the advantage of going to a school – at the time it was called “experimental” – where we spent two years moving through time. Going to school was like being in a time machine. For example, when we were learning about the period called the 16th century, we did not have just one short history lesson,  but learned everything 16th century. We were taught about their language, words, maps, arts, crafts, clothes, sciences, cultures, politics, music, poetry, literature, plays, travels, trade, religions, wars, weapons, you name it. We were immersed in the 16th century. It felt like we were in the 16th century. It’s just another model that while not perfect, teaches you more about history than the 3 weeks you get in most schools before jumping ahead from the 16th to the 17th century.

Back to real learning versus rote learning. There are two very surprising elements to real, uninhibited learning that the fake pale excuse of rote learning excludes, disables, and even prohibits.

The Critical Importance of Forgetting

The first is that real learning starts with forgetting – making room for the new. If you have a hard time forgetting the old you will have a difficult time starting to learn the new. If you had a hard time learning what you know, then you will also try and hold on to the old and not learn the new. And be honest we’ve all experienced it. That moment when they upgrade or change a process or procedure or tool you know how to use and you exclaim “Hey, I just learned how to use it, and they’re already changing it!” So, you need to be able to clear the mental cache to use a materialistic model of the brain.

It’s Not Failure if You Learn Something

The second big part – the really big part – of real learning is failure. Failure happens. When you are adapting what you learned from the last time you did it or thought it or spoke it or argued it or whatever, you will experience failure. Smart people who are real learners go “Oh I failed, okay what did I do wrong and how can I fix it so next time I do it right?” Einstein. Edison. Dyson. My Uncle Karl. Long list. So you need to accept and enable failure for the process of real learning to work. And if “failure is not an option” then you will fail and not learn anything.

If you are involved in any kind of learning, and forgetting and failure are not emphasized as part of the learning … leave. You will not really learn a thing. If forgetting what you know at the start (I love those movie scenes where the Sargent – Captain – Leader says “Okay you idiots for starters I want you to forget everything you ever learned!”) then real learning will not happen. By the way forgetting is a brain function as studied by neuroscience as remembering. Imagine what your life would be like if you could not forget what you learned the first (and last) time you learned it …

The “High Wire Training” Exception

Now there is what I call “High Wire Training” where failure leads to your or someone else’s death. Walking across the Grand Canyon. Going into battle in Afghanistan. Responding to a 911 emergency involving a mass shooting or horrible car accident. Let’s be honest. Most of what we learn is not in the High Wire Training category. If it was, this would be a very different blog with a focus on practice, practice and more practice. Repetition. Simulation. VR headsets and more … hmmm … maybe next time.

To sum it up. Learning is a natural brain process that occurs in stages. Real learning enables all the stages. Rote learning disables the stages and focuses on a small part of the process. I’m not sure what value rote learning has in today’s world. Then again, I’m not sure it ever had any real value. What’s the point of spending time and energy learning something only to forget it almost immediately after the test?

To review: Real learning is the ability to adopt what you know and know-how to do and adapt it under an everchanging variety of circumstances. It is one of the reasons my new book Minds at Work harps on the need for continuous learning in the Knowledge Economy where every day – using what you know and know-how to do – is more than ever under the pressure of constantly changing circumstances.

Minds at Work will be published this December 2017 by ATD Press and is available for preorder on Amazon.

 

The Internet of Things That Help You Learn


new-paradigm-ahead (2)

Talking about the Internet of Things …

I have seen the future of on-the-job learning. It is an app that connects any piece of machinery your company uses, with any internet-connected device you already have, and instantly and automatically delivers any specifically chosen, task-related information that exists in the cloud.

So you get close to any piece of equipment and your device provides Information that can range from details about how it works, technical support information, or even safety checklists to ensure compliance. You decide.

Different information is received when you are a certain distance from a piece of equipment  — on your iPhone, iWatch, Android phone or any other internet-enabled device.

This has really fired up my imagination!

I can imagine so many scenarios and uses for this app. And just think of how it could reduce employee error — and the impact that could very quickly have on a corporation’s or organization’s bottom line.

Love to hear your reactions:

Amazing App for OTJ Learning

It’s Time to Stop Pushing Learning


The major change in business today is the rate of change…. the time between conception of an idea and market acceptance was five to seven years. Now a new car model goes from idea to market in 24 months. “Internet time” is just a few months for most things. My public offerings…used to take months or years. Now, crowdfunding can raise millions of dollars for a new business in a few weeks.

John Psarouthakis

push pull pic

As the digital revolution continues rapidly increasing the rate of change andtransforming all aspects of business, from supply chain management to communicationthe highest-performing corporations are abandoning traditional “push” training for the “pull” learning model.

Push training is a centralized, top-down model that occurs when management determines what it is people need to know or do and “pushe”’ educational programs out from a central training group.  Going to a class or taking an assigned online program is push training.

In a push training model, learning is test-based. It is all about what you know.

The problem is that the push training culture was developed to serve the old Industrial Economy that no longer exists.

It is a relic from the time when producing products and delivering services changed slowly and the shelf-life of both was almost glacial compared to today’s reality.  In the pre-digital age, most workers did not need to learn volumes of information to perform their jobs. We all know that has changed.

So why is it that, despite the change from the Industrial to the Knowledge Economy over 100 years ago, the vast majority of organizations still push training out to employees in almost the same ways as they did then?

We are hard-pressed to think of any other business function that is still managed as it was a century ago. Especially when the research clearly shows that push training is an inefficient way of developing skills, abilities and attitudes. Studies show that push training programs only managed in transferr a mere 10 to 20 percent of skills to the workplace. This is a huge waste of 80 to 90 percent of the investment in those programs.

“Pull learning” is the model for the new Knowledge Economy.

It is a decentralized, bottom-up approach that enables employees to access the information they need right when it is needed. Employees are connected and able to collaborate tomake the best use of the supporting technology which connects them to each another and to the sources of information.

Imagine employees facing a new situation in which they require more instruction. With pull training, employees can quickly and easily locate and access the most current information in a variety of ways, when and where they need it.

In a pull model learning is performance-based. The focus is on what you can do when you need to get it done.

Figure 1: Push or Pull

 push pull

 Replacing Push with Pull: The Learning Culture

Replacing push training with pull learning transforms an organization into a learning culture.

A learning culture is an organization that can provide relevant, useable and on-demand access to the knowledge and skills employees need to perform their jobs. This includes technical, operational, and managerial skills. Our research over the past two years shows that corporations that commitment to becoming a learning culture experience measurable, significant and sustainable increases in on-the-job performance, talent-retention, sales revenue, and innovation.

Our research and consulting with leading corporations has further convinced us that the smartest, highest performing, most successful organizations in the current global idea-based economy are learning cultures. Why? Because they are more agille –able to respond instantly to the ever-changing requirements and demands of a fast-paced, hyper-competitive marketplace. Their employees can quickly access the technology and support to find what they need to know, when and where it is needed. Shifting from training and knowing to learning and doing improves the thousands of job-related actions and decisions performed each day, and makes mission-critical corporate-level decisions more immediate and effective.

Yet surprisingly few organizations and their leaders have fully grasped the enormous benefits to be realized by becoming a learning culture. It has become obvious to us that a fundamental shift needs to occur in the way senior managers think about how they provide knowledge and know-how to their workforce.

It is time to stop seeing the workplace as a relatively static 9-5 schoolplace where employees receive an occasional invitation to a training event. Leaders need to reimagine the workplace as a constantly moving beehive in which employees are continuously learning whatever knowledge and skills will help them do their jobs more effectivley.


If you would like more information about what it takes to transform your company into a high-performing learning culture, contact Stephen at sjgill@learningtobegreat.com or David at david@knowledgestar.com

Is your Corporate IQ growing or shrinking?


brain

This is THE most important question you need to answer:

Your Corporate IQ is the total brain power of your organzation. It includes what people know and do every day. It also includes what they discover, learn from failure, learn from one another, share, innovate, tell each other and more. It all adds up to how smart your organization is today, and how well it will perform tomorrow, how the expected will be handled and, more importantly, how the unexpected will be met.

If your Corporate IQ is growing, you’re on the right track for the future. If it is shrinking, you have a problem. A serious problem.

A shrinking Corporate IQ is a function of many forces currently at work over which you have no real control. They include the following:

  • Brains jumping out of the workforce – According to recent numbers from Yuki Noguchi in her article “Businesses Try To Stave Off Brain Drain As Boomers Retire.” “In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, enough do that some companies are trying to head off the problem…Losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies like General Mills…But the older-worker brain drain is a big concern for industries like mining and health care.”
  • Brains made BIG on the Internet – These days a single individual has the collected brainpower of the Internet and all the people connected to it which is acording to the latest figures that 3.7 billion or 40% of the planet. Just to give you an idea of what “exponential” means, the first billion was reached in 2005. So smarts are no longer hired and kept inside your corporate walls.
  • Brains which are connected build virtual organizations – Smart people are everywhere on the planet today and they are finding one another and creating virtual organizations that pump out services and products at an amazing and (to those companies left in the dust) an alarming rate. Your competition many not yet have a brand or an office, but they are certainly as smart as you and may be smarter. And that means they are your competition and need to be accounted for when you look at the products and services you produce.
  • Brains that are bored, tired, overworked, and not challenged – This is partly a result of the schoolplace model of learning being adopted whole cloth into the workplace. When we had time and world’s enough to design and develop and deliver training as if we were still in school it may have worked. Today, it is an icebox that needs to be replaced by a refrigerator.

On the other hand, a growing Corporate IQ is something you can manage. What helps the combined brainpower grow? That’s the topic of the next piece in this series, “It’s Time to Stop Pushing Learning.”

Managing Failure In Your Organization: When Is Failure “Intelligent”?


This blog has frequently stated that a successful learning culture must accept that failures are an important component of learning.

So what, exactly, does that mean?

Does this mean that managers are to overlook mistakes and praise and reward those who’ve screwed up?

Wouldn’t the end result of such behavior be an organization whose members were sloppy, inaccurate and imprecise in their work?

What, specifically, would an organization interested in making a shift from the “push” training culture to a “pull” learning culture do if it wanted to make failure an opportunity to learn about problems before it grew too expensive –or too late — to address and correct them?

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 12.22.30 AM

These are all important questions — and I’ll talk about them in this and a series of blogs to follow. But let me start by quoting Amy C. Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School who states, “All failures are not created equal.”

In her highly engaging and readable article, Strategies for Learning from Failure published in the Harvard Business Review, Edmondson illustrates how some failures can provide highly valuable information, while others are inherently less helpful.

Edmondson has divided failure into the following three categories for which I have provided abbreviated descriptions, which are based largely on hers:

Preventable failures in predictable operations

These are failures most of us would consider “bad.” As Edmondson states, “They usually involve deviations from spec in the closely defined processes of high-volume or routine operations in manufacturing and services. With proper training and support, employees can follow those processes consistently. When they don’t, deviance, inattention, or lack of ability is usually the reason. But in such cases, the causes can be readily identified and solutions developed.”

Think of the famous Toyota Production System, which instills in all employees the importance of pulling a rope to stop the assembly line immediately upon spotting — or even suspecting –there is a problem. Diagnostics and problem-solving process kick in, and there is no “punishment” for initiating this process, which over the years, has helped the company identify real and potential problems early, before they became serious, system-wide, and costly to the company and its reputation.

 

Unavoidable failures in complex systems

This relates to work involving “a particular combination of needs, people, and problems may have never occurred before,” as Edmondson puts it. Some examples of this type of work includes healthcare professionals in hospital emergency rooms, soldiers in battle, people working in nuclear power plants

Even if workers follow best practices for safety and risk management, small process failures will occur. Often, true disaster is caused by a series of small failures that occurred within a short period of time, or occurred in a particular sequence. To prevent this, workers need to feel they will be supported — not stigmatized — when they report small failures with equipment, systems or procedures while it is possible to address and correct them, rather than waiting until a true crisis  — or disaster –occurs.

 

Intelligent failures at the frontier

The term “intelligent failures” was coined by Duke University professor of management, Sim Sitkin. Dr. Edmondson defines these as “good” failures that “occur in environments where answers are not knowable in advance because this exact situation hasn’t been encountered before and perhaps never will be again.”

Intelligent failures are to be expected in companies working to create a new vaccine, build a new type of aircraft or vehicle. In these situations, good work involves good experimentation– and it is always hoped that the failures good experimentation will produce will be quick and decisive. If they are, they will prevent the organization from sinking further time, money and other resources into unproductive work.

There you have it: the hierarchy of organizational failure as laid out by one of the finest minds at Harvard Business School.

My next blog will consider the reasons why organizations are so resistant to the idea of “destigmatizing failure.”

KnowledgeStar is a corporation that consults with large and small organizations to transform themselves into learning cultures. Contact us at David(at)KnowledgeStar.(com) 

5 Votes

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 10.37.18 PM

This post written by Susan Fry and David Grebow

“Push” learning has gone the way of the cassette tape, tube television and electric typewriter.

Leading educators and trainers now regard push learning as inefficient, suboptimal and outdated. Even many schools, often the slowest institutions to change, are rapidly making the transition away from that model.

Yet, despite the fact that “push learning” is clearly not suited for today’s “economy of ideas,” corporations have been surprisingly reluctant to make the necessary change.

Why?

The reason may well lie in the fact that a “pull” learning culture is truly democratic. It’s a culture that encourages and supports everyone to explore and demonstrate their initiative and abilities, allowing the best to rise to the top based on merit.

That sounds like a great benefit to any organization. But when put into practice, the concept can prove to be quite revolutionary.

Throughout history, providing access to knowledge has been a way to control who gained power, wealth and status.

Learning and training are often hoarded and carefully doled out to people upon whom top management wish to confer success. Often, they are golden keys to elite private club that are given to friends’ children, colleagues, and clients, alumni from the same university, people of the same culture, class or color.

There can be no doubt that in the last 50 years, countries with the world’s leading economies have worked to erode discrimination and provide greater employment opportunities to people regardless of their race or gender.

It’s time organizations make another much-needed cultural shift, and “tear down the wall” by replacing the old, “push” learning culture with a “pull” culture that ensures equal opportunity learning.

KnowledgeStar is a corporation that consults with large and small organizations to transform themselves into learning cultures. Contact us at David(at)KnowledgeStar.(com) 

5 Votes

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 10.37.18 PM

This post written by Susan Fry and David Grebow

“Push” learning has gone the way of the cassette tape, tube television and electric typewriter.

Leading educators and trainers now regard push learning as inefficient, suboptimal and outdated. Even many schools, often the slowest institutions to change, are rapidly making the transition away from that model.

Yet, despite the fact that “push learning” is clearly not suited for today’s “economy of ideas,” corporations have been surprisingly reluctant to make the necessary change.

Why?

The reason may well lie in the fact that a “pull” learning culture is truly democratic. It’s a culture that encourages and supports everyone to explore and demonstrate their initiative and abilities, allowing the best to rise to the top based on merit.

That sounds like a great benefit to any organization. But when put into practice, the concept can prove to be quite revolutionary.

Throughout history, providing access to knowledge has been a way to control who gained power, wealth and status.

Learning and training are often hoarded and carefully doled out to people upon whom top management wish to confer success. Often, they are golden keys to elite private club that are given to friends’ children, colleagues, and clients, alumni from the same university, people of the same culture, class or color.

There can be no doubt that in the last 50 years, countries with the world’s leading economies have worked to erode discrimination and provide greater employment opportunities to people regardless of their race or gender.

It’s time organizations make another much-needed cultural shift, and “tear down the wall” by replacing the old, “push” learning culture with a “pull” culture that ensures equal opportunity learning.

KnowledgeStar is a corporation that consults with large and small organizations to transform themselves into learning cultures. Contact us at David(at)KnowledgeStar.(com) 

5 Votes

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 10.37.18 PM

This post written by Susan Fry and David Grebow

“Push” learning has gone the way of the cassette tape, tube television and electric typewriter.

Leading educators and trainers now regard push learning as inefficient, suboptimal and outdated. Even many schools, often the slowest institutions to change, are rapidly making the transition away from that model.

Yet, despite the fact that “push learning” is clearly not suited for today’s “economy of ideas,” corporations have been surprisingly reluctant to make the necessary change.

Why?

The reason may well lie in the fact that a “pull” learning culture is truly democratic. It’s a culture that encourages and supports everyone to explore and demonstrate their initiative and abilities, allowing the best to rise to the top based on merit.

That sounds like a great benefit to any organization. But when put into practice, the concept can prove to be quite revolutionary.

Throughout history, providing access to knowledge has been a way to control who gained power, wealth and status.

Learning and training are often hoarded and carefully doled out to people upon whom top management wish to confer success. Often, they are golden keys to elite private club that are given to friends’ children, colleagues, and clients, alumni from the same university, people of the same culture, class or color.

There can be no doubt that in the last 50 years, countries with the world’s leading economies have worked to erode discrimination and provide greater employment opportunities to people regardless of their race or gender.

It’s time organizations make another much-needed cultural shift, and “tear down the wall” by replacing the old, “push” learning culture with a “pull” culture that ensures equal opportunity learning.

KnowledgeStar is a corporation that consults with large and small organizations to transform themselves into learning cultures. Contact us at David(at)KnowledgeStar.(com) 

Equal Opportunity Corporate Learning


Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 10.37.18 PM

This post written by Susan Fry and David Grebow

“Push” learning has gone the way of the cassette tape, tube television and electric typewriter.

Leading educators and trainers now regard push learning as inefficient, suboptimal and outdated. Even many schools, often the slowest institutions to change, are rapidly making the transition away from that model.

Yet, despite the fact that “push learning” is clearly not suited for today’s “economy of ideas,” corporations have been surprisingly reluctant to make the necessary change.

Why?

The reason may well lie in the fact that a “pull” learning culture is truly democratic. It’s a culture that encourages and supports everyone to explore and demonstrate their initiative and abilities, allowing the best to rise to the top based on merit.

That sounds like a great benefit to any organization. But when put into practice, the concept can prove to be quite revolutionary.

Throughout history, providing access to knowledge has been a way to control who gained power, wealth and status.

Learning and training are often hoarded and carefully doled out to people upon whom top management wish to confer success. Often, they are golden keys to elite private club that are given to friends’ children, colleagues, and clients, alumni from the same university, people of the same culture, class or color.

There can be no doubt that in the last 50 years, countries with the world’s leading economies have worked to erode discrimination and provide greater employment opportunities to people regardless of their race or gender.

It’s time organizations make another much-needed cultural shift, and “tear down the wall” by replacing the old, “push” learning culture with a “pull” culture that ensures equal opportunity learning.

 

KnowledgeStar is a corporation that consults with large and small organizations to transform themselves into learning cultures. Contact us at David(at)KnowledgeStar.(com) 

Carmel, California: The new epicenter of educational consulting


Move over, Cambridge, Palo Alto, Madison, Ann Arbor, New York and Nashville —  Carmel, California may soon become the hotbed for innovation in education!

We at KnowledgeStar thank our clients  — McGraw-Hill, the United Nations, Brandon-Hall Group, Bersin by Deloitte, and the Navajo Nation — for giving us the privilege of working on such exciting projects this last year. Without them, we wouldn’t have received the nice honor pictured below.

CrystalBlue.png.md.cc.DELY-RBAX-BGVV

Online assessment: Find out if you’re already a learning culture


This post written by Susan Fry

The question I’m asked most frequently these days (besides, “ATM or credit card?”) is “How do I start to create a learning culture in my organization?”

I’d actually prefer to start with a different question, which is “How close is the current culture in my organization to a learning culture?”

Many organizational cultures–and maybe yours–already have some of the key characteristics of a learning culture in place.  Finding out where you stand is the logical first step.

We employ a variety of tools to help organizations understand their culture because it helps makes for a smoother, faster transition from an obsolete “push/training” mode into the “pull/learning” culture.

Below, you can view a sample from one of the assessment tools we use. In the left column , you’ll see brief descriptions of key characteristics that  encourage learning; on the right, you’ll see descriptions of those that block it. Beneath the sample you’ll find instructions for taking and evaluating the assessment. new assessment captureTake a moment to answer the questions yourself.  Some of your answers are likely to be surprising.

You can view the full, printable Learning Culture Assessment here.

How to use this assessment

The assessment asks respondents to rank you organization on each characteristic by writing a number in the square at the bottom of each section.

The number “1” indicates strong disagreement with the statement, while “5” indicates the strong agreement. Adding all the  numbers in each column will show whether your organization is currently perceived to be a learning culture.  Questions that received the lowest scores indicate areas that need the most attention.

After you’ve taken it yourself, I suggest that you distribute this assessment to a group of people within your organization. Choosing as many audit participants as possible from diverse areas and levels of responsibility will provide you with more accurate information.

The survey has an additional benefit: it will communicate that you are starting to take a hard look at how good your organization is at providing learning opportunities that enable employees to do the best job possible.

This assessment was first published in Creating a Learning Culture: Strategy, Technology and Practice (Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press, 2004). I’m grateful to Marcia Conner, my colleague from my Peoplesoft days and friend of many years, for recently bringing it to my attention. (Check out her blog at http://marciaconner.com/

In case you didn’t note the publication info above, let me point out that this assessment was published more than ten years ago. In Silicon Valley terms, that makes it almost ancient — and yet I constantly meet people who think the “learning culture” is a radical new concept!

Another Big Plus: Learning Cultures Employ Bi-Directional Models


One of the most significant advantages a learning culture offers is the ability to be constantly managing, maintaining and updating knowledge in their digital repositories or knowledgebases. In a learning culture the traditional corporate silos are no longer a barrier to learning. Information is openly shared between R&D and manufacturing, manufacturing and marketing, marketing and administration, administration and sales, and so on.

LC1

The minds of people working both inside and outside the organization contain valuable information— whether they are C-level executives or clients/customers or vendors and partners. When all three knowledge streams are in play – learners, leaders, technology – and aligned with the goals of the corporation, they create a sort of “super intelligence” for the organization in which the sum total of knowledge is continuously shared, updated, reviewed, revised and shared again.

A learning culture always operates as a closed loop with information moving in both directions between these three key contributors. The learning can pass from learners to leaders, learners to learners, or from the enabling technology to learners — or in the opposite direction. This is why we call it a “bi-directional model.”

The knowledge and skills held by the individuals who make up three knowledge streams can reside in the digital repository, which is easily updated and maintained. The benefits to both the individual and the organization are many. For example, when someone discovers a better, faster or more cost-effective way of doing something, the specific information can easily be added to or updated in the repository, making it readily accessible as needed.

Untitled

When learning is at the heart of a corporation’s culture and a key driver for its success, specific, up-to-date knowledge and information is available from multiple channels whenever and wherever learners need that knowledge to do their jobs. As an equation, a learning culture would look like his: Leaders + Learners + Technology = Learning Culture.

Becoming a Learning Culture is Critical to Your Corporation’s Future

Why has it become critical for corporations to make the transition from a training culture to a learning culture, and what are some of the major considerations? When we first started studying organizational learning, it conformed to the then-prevailing schoolroom “push “model adopted for the workplace.

Corporations spent a large amount of time and money to produce training programs that were delivered to employees in a classroom. Learners had to be on-site, sitting in a room with a specified number of other people who had also been told to attend the training. Each session began and ended at a specific time. Each attendee received the same materials and information at the same time

This model worked because corporations were centralized and standardized. Because people worked in the same time zone and physical location, on the same days of the week and for the same hours of the day, having people attend learning and training events together was efficient. The business and economic environments changed slowly, so products and services had a longer shelf-life and did not need continuous updating. Corporations had the luxury of long development schedules and generous budgets for developing training about how to manufacture, sell or fix products.

That is no longer the world in which we operate.