L&D’s Last Mile Problem

Amazon is moving so fast on getting you stuff in hours not days. What’s the impact? Goodbye 7/11. This is the world we live in. Convenience is king and the need to run to the quickmart for the one-off item is on life support. Another example of this growing speed expectation can be found with our mobile devices. Today we move between entertainment, work, and family & friend chit-chat with our thumbs!

I’m not telling you something you don’t already know or at least feel. The new reality is immediacy.

Products are products, good customer service matters but time savings matters most and it’s going to impact the work of HR and L&D if it hasn’t already. Here’s a scenario that is happening or will be very soon:

Executive: “We need our people to do X better.”
L&D: “Great. We’ll do some observation to determine the current state. Then meet the SMEs to flesh out the details. We’ll move then to determine the best mediums for the course to make it media rich and engaging. We can then create the storyboa…”
Executive <interrupting>: “Wait? What? Have you seen the numbers!? How long will this take?”
L&D: “With the current team we’d probably need 8 weeks.”
Executive: “Nope.”
L&D: “Ummm OK, with our REL tools we can develop and deliver an effective solution in maybe 2 weeks.”
Executive: “Nope.”
L&D: <muttering under breath> “Sh*t.” “You know, new skill development takes the right approach, content, practice and feedback loops to…”
Executive<interrupting>: “Don’t care. Fix it faster.”

And there it is, the Last Mile problem for L&D. If the last mile problem for social is the organizations’ design, the last mile problem for L&D is the organization’s new expectation of speed. The expectation of NOW is real and courses and microlearning aren’t going to answer the bell.

Just like Amazon will wipe out convenience stores, technology like voice, chat, and enterprise social will continue to pressure the course factory model of L&D. Tech has a knack for cutting out the “middle man” and since L&D sits between expertise and novice or knowing and unknowing, the need now is to carve more channels not create more content. L&D must get involved or get out of the way.

The First ESN Post Every Leader Should Make

When companies decide to go all in with enterprise social tech many rightly look to get leaders on board early. What’s often overlooked in traditional approaches is the current state of trust and the foundation of trust being consistent actions. Assuming they aren’t “into” social already,  the moment a leader, maybe someone who is distant from the day to day or someone perceived as infalable or someone viewed as easy to anger and hard to please begins sharing birthday wishes and cat photos the jig is up. There is a better way though… Ask a Sincere Question.

I’m looking for?
I need?
I want?
Where is?
When is?
Who is?
How do I?

Questions do two important things for the workforce and one very important thing for leadership. For the employees, a question invites participation and reveals humility. Both are a draw, a pull towards the person behind the title. For the leader, they learn the one very important point of how starting a conversation creates connection and leads to collaboration. It shows them how all this social really works.

Don’t Lose Your Grip

So I finally ordered a case for my newer iPhone X. It’s been far too long and well there is significant risk of me dropping and smashing such an investment. After a little research I went for a minimalist case that is more about grip than insulation. My logic is if I don’t drop it in the first place then I don’t have to worry about it breaking. Plus the boxy cases really take away a lot from the phone being mobile as in easy to access/use.

This prevention and protection serves as a good metaphor about how we approach organizational knowledge (our practices, approaches and beliefs). Because similar to my phone, knowledge is an extremely valuable company asset.

Protection of knowledge is about effectively communicating it. It’s about consistency and compliance and maintaining what you know and do from top to bottom.

Prevention on the other hand is about helping knowledge remain useful and not becoming stagnant, it’s ensuring knowledge is current and therefore valuable.

For example:
When does a new sales technique become explicit and promoted? When we know it works. And when do we know it works? When we pick up the signal that there is a new way that has greater value and benefits than what we’ve been doing.

Successfully preventing knowledge from degrading is about remaining open to signals through open networks and connection. The sooner we have the signal, the sooner we can compare it, evaluate it and employ it.

However, it is important to keep things that work working. But far too often we wrap so much formality around a change process that protection of knowledge becomes the priority over it’s true value.  When this happens we risk being too insular and our know-how and practices can’t evolve quick enough. On the flip side, too much change too quickly breaks consistency of execution.

Prevention and protection are both important but I’d put a little more of a priority on not losing your grip on the reality that information changes rapidly; changing what we know to be true faster than ever.


Give Me A Reason

OrangeTrail, a Netherlands-based company is thinking and doing right (just see who they’ve been hiring, working with and learning from and you’ll see what I mean). They exists to help organizations successfully unleash enterprise social tech and they have a very simple but powerful framework to help guide adoption:

Give people a reason to visit, a reason to stay, and a reason to come back every day.

Simple. Let me just add since they help with enterprise social, when they say people, they mean workers. There is a difference. Social in an organization comes with all the social and psychological trappings of the system people work under.  As I’ve said, and you can acknowledge this yourself; we go to work not to learn, not to be entertained or to make friends. We go to work to work. Regardless of the social platform employed, if you follow OrangeTrail’s approach and you want people to visit? show them how it makes their work easier and faster. You want them to stay? Ask for their input & bring them relevant content. You want them to come back every day? Encourage platforms to be the place where people get work done together, not just get together.

Believe it.

It’s been said that if you’re in the dumps and you force yourself to smile and hold that smile it can change your outlook. Sounds great but most don’t believe it and when in the dumps find it too hard to try.

Why not believe it? Believe that most often you can fix this yourself and then do it. What do you have to lose?

The same holds true in business. If you’re not getting the best from your employees, if you’re not getting the new ideas, or the problems solved, you can turn to leadership seminars or employ some new fangled process or increase training. These are common solutions and why not? They are in your face daily on every type of media there is and so you “believe it.” Here’s something new to believe, believe your business can solve these issues itself, start by believing the problems are caused by your company’s very design and the solutions are in your company right now.

– Learning is happening always not just in some special place at some special time. Believe it.

– People learn best with and through other people. Believe it.

– We learn more by doing things than learning about doing things. Believe it.

– Organizational communication (top to bottom, bottom to top) is the key to your business’s success or failure. Believe it.

Believe it yet? Yes? Now do something about it.

A better connected company is a better performing company!