What now for Learning and Development Specialists?

In the last blog I explored the 70/20/10 learning rule and I started to touch on the impact this way of looking at learning will have on organisations. For those that didn’t read it, don’t worry - The headline I’m concerned with is the number 70% because this tells us, quite logically, that most learning is completed on the job. Guess what – people learn all of the time! Wow, what a revelation!
I want to expand on this a little and to explore some of the changes it will take for many organisations to really embrace a true learning culture based on the 70/20/10 rule and inparticular nail the 70%, since this is the biggest number right?
Firstly it requires a big shift in mind set and a change from top down, directed learning to encouraging grass roots bottom up learning. This surely means a shift away from the rigid top down complex competency frameworks which people (particularly in big organisations) are supposed to follow and the consequential, endless battle to measure the workforce against said ‘competency skills’ and/or learning interventions designed to improve those competencies. It means moving towards a model where, yes people still have context and know what is important for them and their company to achieve, but the company on the whole is less concerned with trying to micro manage how people learn or go about doing their jobs.  It also means an end to the prescriptive training needs analysis or at the very least being more flexible on this approach.
In terms of making the 70% happen, the challenge for Leaders, HR and L&D professionals is to create the conditions so that this 70% is happening as effectively as possible. This can present a challenge and let’s not shy away from the attitudinal one amongst the workforce. Many people have become used to learning ‘happening to them’ i.e. training is something which happens on a course, is something you are told to do etc I recently encountered this sort of mind set and it’s not uncommon - don’t underestimate the challenge of change in this regard. This takes education on the part of the company but it’s also about accepting and then encouraging the natural learning and sharing that most of us will gravitate towards. This can be quite organic and I’m a believer that early adopters will help most of the rest to follow. The huge growth in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for example is down purely to people wanting to learn for learning sake. In fact this underlines the huge opportunities technology is presenting for learning and HR professionals. On the whole though it means Learning and Development professionals have got to move away from ‘doing’ to ‘facilitating’ and ‘enabling’. Learning Technology in particular is providing us with the means to facilitate, to enable and to allow people to learn in a manner of their choosing.

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