Smaller, Faster Training is Not Going to Move Us Forward

The world of work is rapidly changing. New technology, new competition, new strategies demand workers stay current, adaptable and responsive to this change. Organized learning, historically the course factory, has a solution and frankly it’s just more of the same in smaller packages. L&Ds latest answer to this growing complexity is faster, smaller training. This has really been building for some time as the data drawn was pointing to workers being opposed to lengthy courses with bells and whistles; multiple paths, and animated characters.

Was what workers wanted, what was needed? The scenario sure reminds one of Henry Ford’s quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

So, courses are being broken up, pieces floated into the workflow at best or still something to login to the LMS to access at worst. A new name appeared called “micro-learning”. Say What? Sometimes these are mini-courses, video vignettes, or quick quizzes, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 30 minutes… alas the definition is in the eye of the vendor and it reeks of desperation. Many a vendor have pitched it as a way to address the shorter attention span myth or millennial expectation nonsense, all claims that the way we learn has changed. Nonsense. How we get information has certainly changed but the wiring of our brains?? Marketing drivel.

Sadly L&D continues to rest on its laurels, its golden era behind it and yet only capable of doing what they know best with the tools they know best vs. what is needed most. The industry has taken a page right out of big pharma’s playbook; convince people there’s a widespread illness and provide the cure.

So what is needed most? The most effective learning tool is and has always been conversation – humans are built for it. And although it’s not the only way to improve performance, it is the place where the solutions should start. Nothing is smaller and faster than conversation, sharing, and collaboration. And if organizations reframed to enable more free flow of information, then L&D should shift to enabling this and pause all the creation. The job is and has always been about outcomes not outputs… no matter how small.

Between Us

Real knowledge does not exist within us but between us, in our conversations is something I’ve felt for a long time. So with that, if we want to create more knowledge, we need to create more conversations.

In principle it’s that easy. However the practice, although simple, is much harder to do.

To create conversations we must understand what it means to converse. To be equals, to listen, to communicate without agenda. The barriers to real conversation today are not physical or even technological, they are cerebral. Ego, power, fear and positioning get in the way. Because of these, most conversations are only labeled as such when in reality they are just carefully crafted monologues devoid of empathy, compassion or respect for another’s perspective and history. In these communications information is shared but this information can struggle to become actionable knowledge because this transfer happens best when there is a human connection.

Ask yourself – when did you last have a true conversation and who was it with? In all likelihood it was with others you respected, trusted and enjoyed. The outcome was likely mutually fruitful and satisfying.

Now imagine if you could have these at work with peers and leaders alike. It starts with you.