The 702010 Learning (Department) Model

I’ve always felt L&D as a department was kind of forced into that space since that’s how traditional organizational design works; skills, tasks, departments, etc. But unlike Accounting or Marketing, “learning” doesn’t play nice with ROI. We have also come to accept that “learning” doesn’t come in one flavor, i.e. training. Most, however, subscribe to the idea that people learn in doing their work, finding information, chatting with peers and experts AND then from training. Yet most L&D departments are made up primarily of training professions. This has to change.

Where many have gone wrong with 702010 is in treating it as a learning model and trying to build to some arbitrary percentages, i.e. “we need to be learning informally 70% of the time!“. No, 702010 as I’ve noted is more a principle or rule like gravity. It just is, deal with it. And maybe the best way to deal with it is by using it to build the best of kind L&D department, The Modern Learning Department.

If the majority of learning happens in and through the work we do, then organizations would be wise to invest most heavily in KM methodology and technology. Additionally, they’d need to provide new incentives and capability to help people move newfound ideas more easily into their public sphere. Incentive changes to be in reward, recognition and success measure changes as well as a reposition of management to be focused on support and growth. To do this there would then need to be significant IT and Org Design skills in this new L&D department. Next, if people learn much in social exchanges then the org needs to better invest in community management capabilities, internal comms and communications/social technology, as well as coaches and mentors embedded in the various workflows. And finally, to a lesser extent, training. If compliance box-checking is required then, of course, you need ID and elearning skills. But if not, traditional training and trainers will be the smallest part to make up this new model for L&D.

With the right mix to meet the real ways people learn, organizations can break free of the defaults we’ve seen for decades; training-centric.

To recap, A Modern Learning Department:

  • 70% (Most) KM professionals, Org Designers, IT
  • 20% (Much) Social Tech, Community Management, Internal Comms, Coaching and Mentoring
  • 10% (Some) Trainers, ID’s, eLearning Developers

Social Leadership: Encourage, Support or Model? Pick One.

Three ways leadership can advance social in their organization are through encouragement, support, or modeling. Let’s say if you have to have leadership pick only one, which would it be?

I’d argue it’s modeling. Here’s why.

By the very connotation of the word, Leader, Leaders lead the way. They go first. They don’t direct, they don’t point and tell, they do. You could be CEO, Sr. Division Manager or occupant of cube 31. If you do, and people follow, you’re leading.

When you’re consciously and strategically advancing org social, you have to model and here’s how it can look:

Explain to your followers (peers, reports, employees, etc) what you would like to see them do, why, and then ask them for their support in YOUR efforts to do the same. Tell them what barriers you may have and ask them what theirs are. Then discuss all openly.  In one fell swoop, you’re in it. You’re sharing, you’re inviting collaboration, and you’re modeling how to blow through silos.

Modeling is encouraging. Modeling is supportive.


Every Leader is a Follower Too

Let’s be honest, when people say “leader” they really mean manager or someone in the c-suite. Next, people think if these folks could become better listeners, build trust, reveal their failures, do the thing and everyone will follow, etc. then the trickle-down cultural effect will be amazing. Well, it’s not. Like you, I’ve been reading this kind of stuff 10x a day, every day… for like 10 years now. So why aren’t leaders changing? Why isn’t this new way the norm rather than the exception by now?

Here’s why. It’s the system. Either the system they subscribe to or the system that’s imposed on them. The system is just org design things like rewards, recognition, measures, value, etc. A simple truth is that most “leaders” got to where they are by understanding these systems. They mastered them. Now YOU want them to change and go against the system that sustains them. Your efforts at influencing might get some small actions but once they deviate too much or too fast, especially in the very large orgs, the system will pull them right back.

Maybe we’re aiming for the wrong target. Maybe we should focus less on trying to directly change individual behaviors and first focus more on the systems they follow. So if the maxim is true that every leader has followers, well then even a “leader” is a follower of something. Aim a little higher.

Is Your Organization Being a Hypocrite?

Corporations are psychotic, was a general sentiment I shared in a Twitter exchange with Paul Joycelyn the other day. However upon examination it’s far more accurate to say companies of all sizes can be hypocrites. Just look at what they say and do on the outside? Are they applying the same on the inside? Is your org hypocritical?

  • It’s important to build relationships with customers and partners which takes compromise and being trustworthy. Are you being equally as open to ideas and acting with sincerity to those you lead and manage?
  • Listening to the market to learn their wants and needs. Are you listening to employees for the same?
  • Recognizing that talent is everywhere and extending the enterprise is seen as critical. Are you recognizing different skills within the org and creating new opportunities for the people you already have?
  • Delighting customers with easy to use/ “just works” products is paramount. Is the same passion being applied inside in the form of a clear alignment of work to goals, effective tools, and providing work with purpose?

These are all easy to address. Just point the same energy, the same customer strategy towards your own people. Bring the outside in and the inside will better drive the outside.

Do For You

This past Friday morning I met with four enthusiastic folks involved in tech from a local company for a casual coffee about using social media. This is a bit of a departure from my usual posts but they had such great questions and perspectives that I thought it could benefit others to share the advice I gave for those dabbling in, but maybe not quite using social technology to its full potential. It was not a technical conversation, however. I don’t bother with features and functions, I like to get to the human side of it all. The conversation ranged from things like “it’s overwhelming” to “Using LinkedIn for sale leads only.” I had just one hour, so I framed things around 4 points.

Authenticity & Sincerity and Consistency & Frequency

Let’s start with their concerns first, as we did that morning.

It can be overwhelming.”
Yes, if you let it be. Social technologies, all of them, are just tools. Pick your tool, be comfortable there for as long as you want. If it’s business-related of course you may want to step into the “places” clients or customers are eventually if they aren’t say on Twitter and you LOVE Twitter. But it’s really overwhelming if you chase everything. It’s also a whole other layer of work if you don’t make it a part of your work. Ask – where can it fit into building connection? What’s your purpose??

Getting sales leads.
Yes, that’s a perfect use but you can go further to draw people to you not just “cold call” THEN pull people to you. Draw them in continually. We talked about creating or sharing content for these platforms and why you want to do that. For me personally, it’s always been about putting my ideas out there and inviting conversation. The conversation isn’t always positive or negative but through accolades or criticisms, I’m learning and that’s MY purpose. For these folks it was sales. So, sharing content about their work and sharing it in ways that revealed their passions for their techniques, products or services without being “salesy” is important for two BIG reasons… and here come my 4 points from above.

First, be authentic. Listen, I work for the eLearning Guild. We do some really great stuff for the learning community. Do I believe in all of it?? No, no I don’t and if I all of a sudden started sharing EVERY. SINGLE. THING we do I would be seen as a shill. That’s not good for me and it’s not good for the Guild. The second reason is just a reality I see all the time. People show all this massive love for their company and their social channels are filled with all company stuff. Their identity and their company become one until they’re not. The business cycle is real. People get let go all the time. Now you’re out, looking for work and well, you’re just known for promoting your company. Who are you?? Worse, you land a new job, start doing the exact same thing and then people have zero trust in your sincerity. In my opinion, Social should be an extension of you, not your job and company. You should be focused on your professional interests and passions all the time and when what your employer is doing or promoting aligns, then share. If not, don’t.

A good question came up regarding side hustle interests. Most don’t know but I do have a regional consultancy called ThruWork. It’s all about helping small businesses and non-profits create more social organizations for continuous learning and knowledge sharing. I don’t market. Mostly I just share my ideas and if a client is interested, we talk. For me, it’s still “learning” so of course, the Guild has no issue as my being active in the work of L&D is good for them too. The folks at coffee were astute to recognize that nothing lasts forever, so having other interest if the floor falls out is wise but outright promoting a business could be looked at really unfavorably. The best way is to become a resource for others in your area of expertise. Share ideas, re-share relatable content by others in the space of your passions. It keeps you in the game and in the know for just in case but it’s not a hard press.

Finally, we discussed Consistency and Frequency. If you’re building your expertise and/or a brand, both are really important. You can’t be taken seriously if only 1 in 10 of your posts, articles or shares is related to your professional interests. However, I will caution that you need to be human. If you’re 10 for 10 professional, you look like a bot. Nobody connects to a bot. You have a life, share a bit of it. Be real. I like to say that people don’t connect to smooth and polished. You have to have some rough, sometimes humorous, honest edges to put out there for people to grab on to. The reality is people only work with people they trust. People don’t trust emotionless robots. And yes, some level of frequency is needed. There’s a ton of information out there with all kinds of advice on an exact number of times per week to post blah, blah, blah. Getting caught up in this game is the best way to ultimately hate it. I get that it works, but honestly social media aside, have you ever tried to force a conversation to happen?? It’s ugly and embarrassing. I like to operate more serendipitously. If I find something I know my network would like, I share. Same with writing, etc. No times exactly. I can go days with nothing but I think it’s better than telling everyone that I’m eating a peach just so they know I’m alive.

I closed our conversation with a final thought. As they were sharing openly what they do at work, their experience and expertise I asked if they had any social tech at their company. You see, they were forming quite a powerful Community of Practice right there in that coffee shop, a great thing to keep going both synchronously and asynchronously! Start their networking practices with people they already know and trust and then grow out from there.

Hope you found this of use.