Magazine article Talent Development

The Learning and Development Revolution We Need to Have: Focus on Embedding Technology-Enabled Performance Support into Day-to-Day Work Rather Than Delivering Traditional Training Courses

Magazine article Talent Development

The Learning and Development Revolution We Need to Have: Focus on Embedding Technology-Enabled Performance Support into Day-to-Day Work Rather Than Delivering Traditional Training Courses

Article excerpt

The world has changed. Not is changing, or will change, but has changed. Technology is now ubiquitous. Digital technology is everywhere we need it to be; so, too, then is information, communication, and interaction. This alone would be challenging, but organizations also face globalization issues, the fall of competition barriers, and more.

The result is simple: Optimal execution of a business plan no longer is sufficient; it is just the cost of entry. The only sustainable differentiator will be continual innovation, which will not come from methods we've used in the past. Training alone, whether face-to-face or online, only addresses the one element of the equation. More is required.

What leads to innovation is the capability for people to interact constructively. Barriers to innovation have to be systematically dismantled-making sharing safe, diversity accepted, fresh ideas welcome, and new approaches embraced.

These barriers can encompass certain skills, but they're not developed outside of practice, so they largely aren't amenable to training. Barriers also include culture, facilitation, and ultimately how we use technology to optimize performance solutions.

Indeed, one of our biggest challenges is that we're not leveraging technology in a way that's aligned with how people really think, work, and learn. Digital approaches are the perfect complement to our brains when we use them correctly. This is the revolution we need to have.

Changes in the world

To understand how to leverage technology in alignment with how we think, work, and learn, we need to examine what's known about each and, in some cases, change our assumptions.

To start, old models of workplace thinking suggest that the best approach is a hierarchy where executives determine strategic direction, managers establish tactical approaches, and workers perform specific actions. Plans are prepared, individuals are trained, and then the organization executes performance.

Evidence shows that this model no longer is appropriate: Competition is too fast, situations are increasingly ambiguous or novel, and the front line must react to much more without guidance or supervision. Instead, people often work better when they are given clear goals in a context, and are empowered to pursue those goals by means that they determine and with adequate support.

Small, diverse teams collaborate to solve problems, not individuals in isolation. This means that organizations need to prepare for and facilitate people working together, and they must understand how to communicate and use tools to generate shared solutions in an effective way.

The way we think also is under revision. Old models expected us to fill heads with knowledge, which was followed by work to produce output. We worked alone with few resources, and training was used to ensure that we knew all we needed to know across all situations.

This approach assumed that when properly trained, people worked logically and consistently. Weak performance was the fault of poor training or the individual. This theory also has proved inaccurate.

The new picture of how we think is very much contextual. We reconstruct our understanding anew in every circumstance. We are more productive when we're supported with external resources. We are good at pattern-matching and meaning-making, and we're far better off leaving rote memory and complex calculations to digital technology and reserving our abilities for multifaceted decision making in challenging conditions.

What we know about how people learn best also has changed. It's no longer effective to simply transfer rote knowledge. Traditional classroom training that presents information and then tests for knowledge transfer is useful in few situations.

Training's role is evolving. We need to offer different types of learning and support to help workers perform in these new contexts. …

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