Magazine article Talent Development

Diamond in the Rough: Curation Is More Than Gathering and Organizing Content-It Also Involves Finding Value in It

Magazine article Talent Development

Diamond in the Rough: Curation Is More Than Gathering and Organizing Content-It Also Involves Finding Value in It

Article excerpt


Our model of teaching and training hasn't changed much from the Industrial Age. The commercial reality of teaching formal curricula to thousands of people caused a natural shift toward teaching standardized content. We couldn't make it a personal and relevant process for everyone, so we made an approximation of what most people needed to know to do their job and taught it to everybody.

This model has updated with the times, moving from the classroom into the virtual world, but the fundamentals remained the same. The vast majority of talent development programs are standardized and content focused; inspired by Taylorism and scientific management. Now that we've moved to the web, workers are directed to take part in e-learning programs, either in large groups or through on-demand services, in a bid to increase training efficiency and to "automate" the learning process. The efficiency of the system is more important than the individuals within it.

But increasingly, the work isn't standard. And the importance of efficacy in the system is being undermined by the needs of the worker. Today we rely on our human capital to devise complex solutions to unique problems. It's not enough to know stuff; you have to be able to create new knowledge. Coming up with faster, more efficient widgets in the light of the so-called "flat-world" gives us diminishing returns. And so the age of the learning administrator is coming to a close.

In this new world it would seem impossible to keep up with the pace of change, especially from a content point of view. The moment content is published, it is out of date. The talent development department cannot possibly know enough to keep track of an entire company's explicit knowledge. Faced with the rapid pace of organizational change, talent development professionals are struggling to keep up. Rapid development tools only make us so fast. We need to change our approach entirely. We need to move from being controllers of learning, to curators of learning.

Enter curation

According to leading learning expert Nigel Paine, "Curation is not simply one thing that is easy to define and articulate. Derived from the Latin cura, meaning guardian or overseer, the word curation has expanded beyond activities like tending, collecting, and managing of physical objects into the digital world. It is sharing knowledge and adding value to insights and ideas as they pass through the hands of individuals."

In the first chapter of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers Are Creators, Steven Rosenbaum notes that "curation comes in many shapes and sizes." But, he adds, it's also important to understand that "curation is about adding value from humans who add their qualitative judgment to whatever is being gathered and organized."

Paine adds that "the heart of added value is built around the addition of context and meaning. Curators aggregate, distill, and remix existing content to show how content applies in new situations. Adopting a curation mindset means acknowledging that creating content is less important than the context in which it is applied."

For any given topic, there is usually no lack of previously published information. Curation can offer a significant competitive edge by providing a way of looking at content, a fundamental approach to knowledge, and by extension, a fundamental approach to work and working life.

When you juxtapose the proliferation of content with how adults learn (that is, as part of a process, not from a perfect piece of content), it becomes apparent that creating vast amounts of content for a workforce to remember is not a strategy worth pursuing. It is in the application and context of how people use the information that organizations benefit-not in the words themselves. And once we make this leap, the concept of consistently trying to make new content from which we can learn becomes redundant. …

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