New technologies are about to disrupt the corporate learning space. This should not be an excuse to concentrate only on delivery or experience. What needs to be reexamined first is the very purpose of learning in our next gen organizations. Only then can learning officers leverage the power and the diversity of technology - and not only learning technology.
Clarifying why learning is the key capability of next-gen organizations is required to be able to design a consistent portfolio of learning strategies, intended for well understood purposes. Technology can help design this portfolio and reach the intended purposes.
Learning organizations, take 2
Not a day goes by without a new article presenting an interesting insight about how organizations today need to be more agile, fail faster, adopt technology at higher rates, reorganize continuously, and so on. And not a day goes by without an article presenting insights on why learning officers need to adopt a micro-learning strategy, bring spaced learning in the organization, move beyond the LMS, in short, adopt one of the new tech-powered fads.
Organizational evolution and learning are linked: individual and collective learning is the only way to build or enhance organizational capabilities. Learning should therefore aim at equipping employees with the knowledge, skills and mindset they need to be able to correctly impact organizational evolution and capability building. To my mind, there are at least five dimensions that corporate learning should address:
This is not to say that these are the only dimensions that learning must address: each specific context brings with it different requirements for learning. But these seem pretty obvious learning needs to address to ensure leaders and employees are able to understand and drive organizational evolution.
Multi-purpose learning strategies
It is therefore a tough curriculum for the new organization man: changing his state of mind, learning about new business and operating models, continuously enhancing his own functional knowledge and being able to understand several other functions fundamentals.
And, beyond this need for learning, in a world with increasing uncertainty, where capitalist and liberal ideas are being challenged, where there are strong expectations about the organization's impact on society, the environment and individual well-being, the need for meaning is stronger than ever.
Learning Officers are therefore tasked with building multi-purpose curricula, for which the ideas presented below can be an example:
Depending on the organization, other types of purposes could be defined for learning strategies: customer behaviours and expectations in retail companies; technology evolution in high tech companies; craft and manual skills in luxury companies; ... But the above seem the needed ones for a new basic curriculum.
Technology as ecosystem
Once the curriculum is clear and conveniently oriented towards the different purposes of the organization, it is time to have a fresh look at all the possibilities that different technologies give the learning officer. In doing this, the mindset should be: do not stop at learning technologies and leverage social when possible! As we'll see, it is increasingly difficult to speak about technology without also making recommendations or assumptions on the work culture.
One approach to leveraging technology to reach the above purposes is as follows:
Finally, give responsibility for building this learning ecosystem to a team that is free from training fads, technologically literate, diverse and agile and have them focus on:
You might just be building a real learning organization.