Sunday, 27 May 2012

Shifting from push to pull

Recently I've 'discovered' some wonderful contemporary thinking around workplace learning. I suppose you could call this a social learning movement - it's a kind of post-modern interpretation of how we best learn to do our jobs.

The social learning paradigm is driven in no small way by the shortcomings of the traditional L & D model premised on just-in-case, push learning (top-down training). In today's rapidly changing business environment the argument for radically altering our approach to workplace learning is compelling.

The social learning approach is a revelation, in the sense that it provides a cohesive narrative and confirms my observations, thinking and frustrations with the 'default' training model. What a breath of fresh air for someone embedded in an organisation locked into an L & D program from a bygone era! It's enabled me to extricate myself back into some sort of parallel universe of progressive thinkers and possibilities. So I'm currently unlearning - relearning and evolving - crawling my way out of the viscous quagmire of 'training'!

I'm talking to people about the 70/20/10 model, social/informal learning, just-in-time, pull learning, Wikis, workscapes, collaboration, learning networks, social media tools and beyond. Charles Jennings cohesively captures much of this in a beautiful piece of storytelling.

So what might be some of the essential  ingredients to create a climate where learning is blended into the workflow - in the spirit of 'work is learning and learning is the work'?
  1. Provide pull learning resources and promote collaboration so people can experience the value of self-directed learning through success on the job
  2. Support networked learning through structured and informal opportunities for sharing information and higher level collaboration, including social media tools to facilitate learning networks
  3. Recognise that performance is limited if based on individual expertise and enhanced by collective thinking - network knowledge
  4. Promote information sharing and collaboration through physical workspace design, social media tools and a culture of conversation
  5. Provide a cohesive range of multimedia resources that can be pulled from a user friendly platform to suit individual needs and learning preferences
  6. Create a Wiki driven by bottom-up contributors to provide an agile learning and performance tool to meet a changing business landscape
  7. Scale back push learning events into engaging bursts of two-way dialogue closely aligned with the context of work
  8. Shift to a leadership model that facilitates a degree of autonomy to drive self-directed learning, collaboration and performance
The challenge is to integrate these elements into the fabric of work, in a way that inherently supports and fosters  learning, and enhances performance on the job. Ultimately the organisation needs to recognise that learning sits at the core of everything its people undertake on the job.

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