With all the discussion of disruptive businesses in the hotel, transportation, and music industries, it makes sense to think about how L&D departments can use a disruptive approach to help employees learn better and faster. David James, chief learning strategist for Looop, explores this idea in his article for Learning Solutions Magazine, “Next Action: Refocus, Re-skill L&D to Support Modern Business Needs.”
What I learned from this article
James points out that disruptive technologies succeed when they meet customer needs better than the status quo. For L&D, that means finding more effective ways to help employees do their jobs better.
- A disruptive approach leaves the classroom and puts resources into employees’ reach as they work.
- L&D can re-skill to create simple custom resources or curate existing ones.
- L&D can and should create cohesion between the organization’s goals and employee development.
What does a disruptive approach to L&D look like?
James suggests that training managers step away from the classroom and incorporate learning in the workflow. He advises building a collection of resources like Google or YouTube but customized specifically to the needs of the business.
He also makes the terrific point that you can revise, update, and improve the offerings as time goes by. It’s good guidance for L&D departments that are making their first incursions into digital territory. Disruptive approaches don’t start perfect; they evolve.
What do workflow-accessible resources look like?
James describes three types of information you might find in these resources:
- Instructions: how to do something
- Inspiration: how another accomplished a goal
- Interpretation: one or more ways to accomplish something
These can be videos, written documents, even audio, but the delivery channel is less important than the function. Work-embedded resources provide the basic information people need to do their jobs better.
James also notes that there’s no reason to give up on face-to-face training, but with a resource-based approach, you can spend classroom time in “discussion, debate, challenge, and practice” rather than teaching basic concepts.
What’s the key value that L&D can bring to their organizations?
James sees a great opportunity for L&D “to become the best-connected and most effective department in the business.” By uniting business goals with work-flow support, trainers become the stewards of the “tribal knowledge” that aggregates individual expertise into the company’s market value.
And, although James doesn’t mention it, a foundation of living educational resources can help a company develop a culture of sharing, learning, and innovation.
Given that we learn so much of our jobs by doing our jobs, I agree with James’ disruptive approach to training. Getting information out into the workflow makes sense.
I would add that although we think of videos or written articles as “resources,” it’s consistent with a disruptive approach to open our perspectives to other resources that might be hiding in plain site, like experienced employees, SMEs, managers, and peers.
It’s also important to remember that learning often requires feedback and guidance, and it might be necessary to assess how much progress a learner has made with a specific skill. Plus, some skills need to build over time, and it’s helpful to have a learning path that encourages employees to stretch out of their comfort zones.
It’s incredibly exciting to think of re-focusing L&D toward the work environment, but without a long tradition of how to do it, we all face uncertainty and risk. Thanks to David James for a terrific discussion of how we can take our first steps.
At Pract.us, we’re dedicated to helping you turn work experience into learning resources. Learn more.