Your organization has decided to tilt in the direction of informal learning. Colleagues tell you that it can be faster, better, and cheaper than traditional approaches. You need to satisfy increasing demands with reduced staff and budget. You’re concerned that your current offerings will not satisfy the new generation of workers. So now what do you do?
1. Masterclass for L&D managers, instructional designers, and senior instructors on the concept and implementation of informal learning. This is generally a one-half or one-day onsite engagement with thirty to forty people.
2. Retreat for CLOs, HR directors, planners, and policy makers on the philosophy of informal learning, the change management process required to support it, and the corporate culture that fosters its success. Two or three managers spend two days at the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley, California, in a heavily personalized experience.
Here’s an overview of the topics from recent Masterclasses.
What is the organization’s primary goal?
How well are you preparing people for the future needs of the organization?
Introduction to informal learning. Push vs. pull. The spectrum. How to recognize it in its many forms.
A dive into 70:20:10 as an example of informal, experiential learning.
A dose of my philosophies of what matters in life and learning.
We talk about how schooling is the wrong model for organizational learning and discourage using schoolish vocabulary.
From this foundation, we explore communities of practice, capturing and disseminating news, knowledge sharing at Intel, experiential learning at Xerox, conversation at HP, volunteerism at SAP, Twitter at Deloitte, product knowledge at BT, and learning from microblogs. We also address implementation and values at a large company rollout, curation as learning, and creating the business case in several different industries.
Depending on the level of the group, we may apply the 10-step implementation program from the 702010Forum.
Recent Masterclasses and Retreats
We recently conducted half-day Masterclasses at the WorldBank (above) and Dutch high-tech company Ordina (below).
Senior managers and strategists attended a two-day management planning retreat at the Internet Time Lab earlier this year.
Members of the Internet Time Alliance may join us virtually or in person during a retreat. In this case, Harold Jarche and I joined forces to help this team launch an expansive nationwide educational arm for a major non-profit.
Ten years ago this May a journalist named Nick Carr stirred up a ruckus with an article in Harvard Business Review claiming that IT Doesn’t Matter. Using the telephone and shipping by rail were great sources of competitive advantage – until every business could afford them. Then they no longer differentiated those who used them. Carr argued that IT is a mature industry, its presence is assumed, and such things as standards will make it even more of a commodity in the future.
Consultants Howard Smith and Peter Fingar shot back a month later with a paperback retort entitled IT Doesn’t Matter – Business Processes Do. I ordered a copy the day I met Peter last week, and I read the booklet yesterday evening. In 120 pages, Smith and Fingar skewer Carr, show why IT will matter more than ever, and explain how business process management creates riches.
The big argument is that “Business process management (BPM) systems can, for the first time in the history of business automation, let companies deal directly with business processes: their discovery, design, deployment, change, and optimization.” As long as there’s innovation, there’s room for making processes better. BPM promises to obliterate the “Business-IT Divide.
To optimize a process, the right hand must know what the left is doing. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), the melding of ERP, SCM, CRM, PLM, and what-not into one all-encompassing application, is a major step forward, but it doesn’t link the organization with those outside the firewall such as partners and suppliers. Web Services integrate the enterprise with the outside world, connecting business to business, just as the Web connected consumers to businesses in the last decade.
Does this mean all business is going to be carried out using common processes that embed best practices? Not on your life. “BPM will be used both to differentiate (best-in-class) and to standardize (best-practice).” Count on Amazon, for example, to use best-practice standards for email and credit-checking, and FedEx will deliver your order. Don’t expect Amazon to let you peak into proprietary systems such as One-Click Ordering, for that’s where their competitive advantage lies.
Nick Carr’s screed in HBR attacked data processing as we’ve known it. Indeed, that’s not where to look for big value in the future. Business organizations are moving up the ladder a notch to MetaIT. Instead of one-time automation to save labor, they are establishing structures to continuously improve the way they do things.
Authors Smith and Fingar tell us it’s time for the IT tail to stop wagging the Business dog. In their vision of the future, business people will define and own business processes. Instead of doing what-if analyses with numbers on spreadsheets, decision-makers will do what-if analyses of how their business operates or might operate.
As I recently wrote here, it’s as if builders could move walls by shifting them on blueprints displayed on their laptops. With a comprehensive business blueprint, an executive can hand off an entire bundle of processes, say payroll, with minimal fuss (and with knowledge of precisely what savings will result.) A manager can experiment with different ways of getting a job done and chose the one with the most profit potential. A worker can fix a glitch in the system that has been irritating customers for once and for all. In the BPM world, business runs the show.
The authors propose a daunting laundry list of other functions the new paradigm can help accomplish, among them “accountability, activity-based costing, business process outsourcing, competitive intelligence, concurrent engineering, crisis management, inter-organizational systems, just-in-time (JIT), key performance indicators, lifetime customer value, pay-for-performance, resource-based strategy, security audit, scenario planning, and supply chain optimization.” (Whew.)
My interest in all this is how it improves learning and human performance. Process-oriented environments will impact traditional training just as word processing and social change eliminated most of the nation’s secretaries. Process innovation empowers us to create jobs that provide more throughput and greater worker satisfaction, although not through traditional training departments. Imagine the potential of:
For training directors and CLOs, the future holds good news or bad news. It depends on where you’re coming from. Training administrators who fail to understand the new dynamics of business as likely to find themselves stripped bare, evaluated by metrics they do not understand, and looking for another line of work. Those who adopt the process mindset take on significant new responsibilities, for everyone knows that the people in the organization are more important than the technology.
After fifty years of waiting for instructions in its corporate cocoon, training is ready to unfold its wings and be recognized as a full-fledged business process.
I wrote this post nearly ten years ago. The wheels of innovation turn slowly.
Internet Time Lab needed a logo for its iPhone app to measure emotion. At my partner’s suggestion, I turned to 99designs.com, “the fastest growing design marketplace in the world.” Their site says they’ve conducted 174,000 design contests and paid out $1.4 million to designers last month. I’d never heard of them.
Nine days ago, I posted a spec for what I wanted, put $149 on my credit card, and began receiving design options. 23 designers submitted a total of 62 entries. 3 withdrew their Continue reading
Internet Time Lab needs an icon for its forthcoming mobile app. “Blips” records a person’s feelings at various times during the day and displays aggregate results on the web. The name Blips refers to the scant amount of time — a couple of Blips a day– it takes to increase one’s feelings of contentment and satisfaction.
October 26, 2012, 12:26 p.m. ET
In this lopsided Wall Street Journal article, a professor slams training for all the wrong reasons.
For one thing, he disregards experiential learning on the job and seems to think that training always takes place away from the job.
He touts the need for a thorough needs analysis Continue reading
Jurgen Appelo plays with more models of how things ought to work than anyone I else I know. His book Management 3.0 presents, assesses, and sometimes interconnects with agile, people-oriented processes relentlessly. I’m a fan. See his blog. And this presentation:
Some people think their credit card information and Amazon preferences are stored a mile overhead in a cumulus cloud. It’s not that mysterious.
Just think of the cloud as a humongous computer that is connected to endless warehouses of rack-mounted servers spread around the globe. Is it safe? Like walking across the street in Manhattan, it’s perfectly safe if you know what you are doing. You don’t need to see inside the cloud. All that’s required is faith when you put things Continue reading
The largest obstacle holding L&D professionals back from taking advantage of network technologies, distributed networks, social connections, peer interaction, and informal learning may be their bedrock belief that learning = courses.
What’s a course? Where did courses come from?
The word course derives from twelfth-century French for running or moving forward. Over time, it morphed into meaning the circuit that was being run on, as in racecourse. In the fourteen century, academics started Continue reading