Keeping Your Hands Dirty

One thing that I greatly appreciate about working for the Guild is their strong desire to stay close to organizational learning and the learning industry. Many of us engage in side opportunities in design, elearning development, consulting and speaking in an effort to stay close to our roots. This is pretty progressive considering that often those who rise to management levels lose touch with the work they once did and as such can lose the faith and trust of those under them.

Staying in the game is important.

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Preparing Leaders to Support Post-Training is Treating Symptoms and Ignoring the Disease

I came a cross this article from 2016 as it was shared recently in my network, One Minute, One Question: How Well Does L&D Prepare Leaders to Support Staff Post-Training?

I had a few questions initially about this piece such as who were the 159 survey respondents? And how come two questions appear to ask the same thing; “we do a poor job” and “we don’t prepare” (our leaders). I mean, isn’t “we don’t prepare leaders” doing a poor job in this context? Also, it is focused only on new hires, leaving out training on new skills or systems of current employees. How’s that going?

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The Best Example of “Micro-learning”: Us

The definition of this new, not new, over-hyped, trending idea is pretty vague. Plus I’m not a fan of yet another formal intervention commandeering the term “learning”. I get it, it’s easy. Yes, these things can lead to learning but in itself, it’s not. Learning is a verb, a process, not a tool or technology. Donald Taylor did well to pull together a definition in his latest post and referenced some of the others who had opinion such as Nick Shackleton-Jones and Donald Clark. I also recommend seeing what Gary Wise had to say.

Micro learning’ is learning from content accessed in short bursts, content which is relevant to the individual, and repeated over time to ensure retention.” – Donald Taylor

Content, short burst, relevant. I think he’s right, but these terms still leaves lots of wiggle room. And given I have the space to work with as do all the vendors, I contend that 10,000 years of evolution has really been defined by micro-learning and most specifically micro-learning in the form of conversation. Small “nuggets” in the form of quick quizzes, video vignettes, audio clips and demonstrations have value but rarely contain the trust, specific context, emotion and right size of information (knowledge and even wisdom) that are found in our interactions.

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Social Business is Business as UNusual

Some of the weakest value propositions still offered by enterprise social tech vendors today are 1. having less email and 2. fewer meetings. Seriously? Is this the best we can do? So what? And sorry, please don’t assume that less of one thing means more of something else (collaboration).

The promise of social technology is (or was) about doing the work of working differently maybe even changing business structure altogether. We know that when diverse people connect and can talk openly, interesting things can happen –  new ideas are fostered, innovations take place, and problems get solved. But it still takes the right people, in the right systems, in the right culture and the right kind of talk; real, honest talk. Technology alone is not going to magically make this happen. Getting it “right” is hard work and takes time.

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A Culture of Capitalism

And yet another company was cited for ethical behaviors. This time it’s Princess Cruise Lines for illegally dumping tens of thousands of gallons of untreated waste water into the ocean for almost a decade. Many will conclude and promote that this is another example of culture and/or leadership gone wrong. Volkswagen’s EPA violations and Wells Fargo’s illegal account creations are two others in recent times to get into hot water. And although I agree that organizational culture, driven by corrupt systems of recognition and reward, play a significant role but they do not play the only role or maybe even the main one.

It’s easy to pin the blame on an idea or a concept of leadership or culture, because really “culture” is nameless and faceless. The fact is though that individual employees knowingly entered false information to create bogus accounts, made modifications to override emissions data, and now installed pipes to bypass waste treatment. Each of these individuals had to have known what their work was in effect doing; jeopardizing people’s credit and polluting the air and the water. These workers chose to do it and chose not to blow the whistle. They got their directives by system or by authority, bullied or not, and consciously chose their path. Of course people were fired at many levels and organizations took on bad press and criminal charges but I suspect that even with all this, these behaviors will continue. There is another system at play that drives how our leaders lead, how business culture forms and how employees behave – surprise, it’s our economic system!

The Culture of Capitalism today is one where people can achieve unlimited wealth (and debt), and one that can obviously fuel unethical behavior. Few will risk being fired for speaking up and for speaking out. There is too much at stake, the job market is challenging for many and the road to financial hell is littered with do-gooders whose story can’t be told or won’t get heard at the next interview since they were terminated from their last position. Additionally Consumerism, “Keeping up with the Jones”, and acquiring the latest and greatest is far more the norm than the exception today as far too many live beyond their means because living within their means isn’t living.

So yes, I’ve argued that systems drive behaviors which creates the culture and I was speaking of activity inside organizations. But we are foolish if we ignore the influence of the outside getting in. Each and every day employees bring themselves and their lives to the workplace and Capitalism, with its offspring of Consumerism, really underpins it all.