In my last post (“Learning is critical, but is the learning function critical?”) I described how the educational function is at risk of being marginalised. More and more learning takes place at work and through social learning. The rapid development and employees changing way of learning puts more focus on informal learning.
In this post, I describe new roles that are required within the learning feature. I also describe how the business needs to take greater responsibility for learning and how the educational function’s task will be to encourage and enable learning in the organization.
Support the entire organization’s learning
Together, social learning and learning are at work for the majority of all learning in the organization. In the last post I described the 70:20:10 model, which indicates that 70% of our learning takes place at work based on the experiences we have, 20% we learn through interaction with others and 10% is via formal methods such as courses. We involved in the training function need to focus on the entire learning in the organization and not just be a function that delivers courses. The image below offers examples of methods we can use to learn. I have divided learning into the work of “Experience” and “Information/Surroundings”. The methods differ in how they are applied and in the responsibility of making it happen.
In my last speech, I described the methods in more detail. Read more…
In short, we need:
- Change how we create learning solutions. We need to create opportunities to learn from experience with, for example, tasks at work, simulations, action-based learning and put more effort into providing support when the task is performed, e.g. short video instructions, cheat sheets, etc.
- Make it easier for employees to find good knowledge that already exists. These can be videos, recorded webinars, articles, guides, websites, short eLessons and more. We need to evaluate resources and make them accessible and easy to access in, for example, a learning portal.
- Encourage and enable social learning by providing social platforms, educating employees to, for example, video record experiences, share and work on influencing the culture so that sharing knowledge becomes a natural part of the work.
- Design the work for learning, including the importance of methods such as job rotation, coaching and developing assignments for the development of employees. Training and support is needed for managers to apply the methods and appoint themselves as coaches in the employees development.
How do we achieve the resources for this?
It’s easy to say but hard to do. We are likely busy developing and delivering courses today. We don’t have time for anything else. We must then ask ourselves whether this is effective or not? For us who are busy delivering, or for the employees who spend a lot of time away from work in classroom courses. A course day in classrooms is often matched by a few single hours spread through time using more modern methods.
A first question is whether we need to develop everything ourselves? Today, lots of high quality learning is offered from MOOCS or course libraries such as Lynda, SkilledUp, SkillSoft, Kahn Academy and others. Often there is complete integration with modern LMS. Can we shift resources from self-development and delivery to reviewing and inserting external courses into our course library? I recently listened to a training manager who reduced 30% of the course catalogue with external resources from MOOC and course libraries. It frees up resources.
Streamline course delivery
In general, many Swedish organizations use too little technology in education. It is not uncommon for 90% of the course hours delivered to be in the classroom or on-the-job and 10 technology-based learning (e.g. eLearning). This shall be compared with figures from ATD’s “State of the Industry 2014” where the best global companies use 50-60% technology-based learning. What does this difference mean? There is, on the one hand, a cost aspect. Delivering through classrooms costs 10-15,000 SEK per course day if the cost of the employee’s time, is included. The cost of corresponding training via eLearning is 2-3,000 SEK per employee. There is also a big difference in the speed in which we reach employees. A teacher can train 20 people at a time. This makes it difficult when new knowledge is to be quickly built in the organization.
For example, a company with 10,000 employees can release about 1,000 delivered course days by increasing the percentage of technology-based learning from 10% to 50%. It frees many teachers who can start encourage the other learning in the organization.
Just-in-time means we learn when we do the job instead. Opportunities to encourage just-in-time have developed a lot in recent years. Today when we need to do a task we have not done before, we can find a video on Youtube that shows how to do it. As I described before, many organizations are starting to build their internal Youtube. Support for work with computers and software has evolved a lot recently. Today you can get both step-by-step instructions and lessons inside the actual application. You can also get support and advice just as you enter data into the systems. Walk-Me and Assima Vimago are examples of tools that make it possible. More than 70% of the workforce in Sweden use computers at work. More than 90% also have access to a smartphone or tablet. By using QR codes and mobiles, we can transfer learning, e.g. by using qr codes and mobiles. to a machine where we need help with the settings
To conclude: We often have many people involved in education that cost a lot and have little effect. There is much to streamline in the use of new technology to deliver faster, closer to work and at lower cost, with fewer teachers and with less demands of the employee’s time. There is also much to be gained using external content instead of developing everything yourself.
New roles in the learning function
Transition to encourage the entire learning in the organization means that we put more focus on enabling and strengthening social learning and learning at work. It’s about shifting the focus from doing everything, i.e. developing and delivering, to making learning happen in the business.
It makes a big difference in the composition of staff. As I said earlier, 70-80% of the staff in many Swedish organizations are focused on developing and delivering courses in classrooms and eLearning. The study “How and where organizations are investing to close employee skill gaps” from Bersin shows larger organizations in the United States where the proportion is smaller and in 2011-2014 decreased from 50% to 41%. In terms of the proportion of teachers, the decrease is higher, from 21% to 16%. In Swedish companies where I myself have been involved in analyzing the distribution of resources, has the proportion of teachers been over 50%.
In this reversal, new roles appear within the training function. Some examples are:
The English term is “Curator”, but I can’t think of any name other than librarians. They are needed for a number of reasons. On the one hand, they have a role in reviewing and evaluating the large number of courses and videos available in MOOC ́s and web-based course libraries. They also have a big role to play in encouraging informal learning at work, what I call “information/the outside world”. They are aware of the users’ needs and skill gap and should make it easier for employees to find resources such as instructions, videos, web pages, cheat sheets and anything else that can encourage. Often they work with learning portals and the responsibility for how they are organized and maintained.
The use of social platforms does not happen by itself. Employees need knowledge of how, for example, post or create a video and upload. Sharing usually requires a change. It is a considerate undertaking to create a permissive culture, managers who are pioneers, employees who are curious and who spend time on knowledge sharing themselves. The role is also needed to moderate and create accessibility in forums, video sites, social feeds, etc.
Technology is creating a rapid change in many businesses right now. This is also the case in learning, where a boom in new technology changes learning and creates both more efficiency in terms of cost and time and more impact of learning at work(“Therefore, new technologies are important in learning”). We need a role that looks ahead, based on the strategy of the business and that sees how new technology can improve learning. The role evaluates and tests the technology to see what can encourage the business. An important component will be a strategy and “roadmap” for the introduction of new technology. The training function is responsible for the technology platform that enables more effective total learning and to create a holistic experience, from LMS to learning portals, social platforms, video platforms, etc.
I’m having a hard time finding the right designation. In English it is often called “Learning & Performance Consultant”. Organizations that have progressed a little further with formal education usually have a learning consultant to analyze needs and create training solutions that better ensure the impact at work. Now we need to go further. We need to understand what affects the ability of employees and to propose solutions that is about other things than education, such as We also need to encourage the business in analysing needs and working with learning and developing activities, not least line managers who have an impact on the learning of experiences, e.g. challenging assignments or job rotation.
ATD’s competence model gives an indication of what skill we already see that training functions need.
Responsibility for learning must be integrated into the business
Moving from a “provider of courses” to a learning organization means a much greater integration with the business. 90% of the learning is created and takes place in the business rather than in the educational function. It places demands on different actors and how the training function encourage.
In the “old” world, we created mandatory courses and programs. The manager reported and approved that the employee was allowed to attend a course. We measured participation and learning immediately afterwards. Now we know how little it has to do with the individuals ability and also what a small part of the learning it handles. In a fast-changing world, the responsibility needs to be on the employee to continuously develop: to follow the flow of knowledge, learn from experience at work and share knowledge. This is also increasingly happening. Many pay out of their own pocket to attend MOOC or take an online course. According to Bersin, the knowledge worker spends 30 minutes a day keeping up to date, following news feeds, participating in forums, etc. Learning skills becomes one of the employees’ most important abilities. We at the training function have a role to create and encourage this change towards our own responsibility and daily learning.
The linemanager is the one that directly affects the time and budget of the employee’s learning. Much of the experience-based learning such as job rotation, challenging projects, career planning, etc. are methods that line manager “owns”. The manager also influence social learning with a coaching leadership style, a climate for feedback and a supportive approach to knowledge sharing. Our role is to encourage managers with methods and also to influence the culture and attitudes that exist among line managers.
What we need to learn is changing as our working methods, our products and services, technology, systems we use and more. It is the owners of these processes and activities who can define new skill requirements, which are based on the subject knowledge, produce information and in many cases budget and develop training. They have a direct impact on formal education, what information is produced and can also participate with knowledge in social learning. We need to think about how responsibility is distributed between the business and the training function in a world where skill requirements are changing faster and faster. How do we work together to capture the demands of educational solutions? More and more people are putting much of the initiative for education, information and social learning on the business instead where the educational function takes on a more encouraging and coordinating role.
Learning at work, by constantly developing new experiences, or actively searching for information and knowledge based on attitudes and habits in the organization. It also applies to the willingness and ability to share knowledge and learn from each other. Top management needs to clarify values around the importance of continuous development, the employee’s responsibility, that learning is more than formal education. They also need to act as pioneers in, for example, in sharing knowledge. We have a task to encourage the leaders in this and to constantly adapt how we conduct learning based on the organization’s goals and strategies.
HR owns the whole of the organization’s skill requirements and the distribution between recruitment and development to create the resources the organization needs. They often pursue methods that are experiential, such as the use of the internet. job rotation and development plans. The training function has an active role in coordinating the skill requirements with the HR function and to encourage HR in implementing experiential methods.
Much of what I’ve written is nothing new, of course. 70:20:10 is, as I said, 20 years old. But at the same time, it can be useful for everyone in training to ask themselves:
- What elements of 70:20 do I include in my courses and programs?
- How are my staff divided into 70:20:10?
- How do we encourage the organization’s overall learning?
- How do we work with the business to encourage learning?