Willingness vs. Ability to Change

Dave Kelly @LnDDave wrote an interesting post comparing Blockbuster’s demise to the changes facing Learning Professionals due to technology advancements. I think he’s right, there are learning professionals resistant to change …but the lack of change is not always due to internal denial as it can be a result of …girth. So, in the case of Blockbuster Video I’m think girth more than denial was the cause and don’t completely agree that they failed to accept that the market was changing. (Although, in all honestly, I don’t have any data to support my beliefs, so humor me). Can we consider then that their downfall was less about a conscious choice of denial and maybe a bit more about an inability to be agile?

It seems to me that Blockbuster was like a big, lumbering Brontosaurus that thrived in an era with few predators (competition), an abundant food supply (limitless market), and a warm earth (strong economy). The need for speed and flexibility was not even a consideration. In the end it’s not that poor old Brontosaurus (Blockbusterosaurus?) didn’t hear the asteroid hit…it’s not that she didn’t feel the weather getting colder …being so big and entrenched in their model and in their world she just couldn’t evolve fast enough. She was built for an era that was suddenly & quickly ending.

Likewise I think that this happens in many L&D departments too; entrenched in formal, top-down models being THE solution – approaches that may have worked well in “warm earth days.” This belief is built upon years of indoctrination by the “Training-Industrial Complex”, snake oil solutions, Industrial Age mindsets, and archaic internal processes, hierarchies and politics abound.

I think that another kind of asteroid has struck the L&D world …it’s called a global financial crisis. The weather is getting colder but the good news is that we are not Brontosaurus. We are not our Organizations …we are not our Departments, we are individuals within who are built to anticipate change, accept change, and be agile of mind. We can work within our systems to change them.

Evolve or die.

2 thoughts on “Willingness vs. Ability to Change

  1. I've heard that it is said that it takes at least 20 years for a new idea to take hold. (I'm not going to search for that to verify because its accuracy is not the point). Perhaps Block Buster's strategic and operational planning efforts were not robust to possible scenarios and didn't have contingency plans for some of the more likely possibilities – and the early warning systems and signals that Plan/Path X was called for instead continuing down Path/Plan A. Success sometimes breeds continued success – and complacency. Where were their Risk Management systems and people – or had they been downsized out – or never put into place in the first place? Whose job was it to imagine the unimaginable as well as the imaginable and determine ever-course corrections – as opposed to mid-course corrections? And where is that happening in L&D? And what role do the Enterprise Stakeholders (including but not limited to Customers) of L&D have in steering the L&D ship in partnership with L&D Leadership and Staff? Whose on point (or at the bow) to see the icebergs – and whose got the fantail watch to detect man-overboard or enemy ships on our tail? Or is everyone's nose on the grindstone cranking out Content or curating Content or empowering others to DIY when it comes to learning "the right stuff" – and not thinking about things other than the here and now? When is Continuous Improvement called for – and when is Discontinuous Improvement called for? And how do you collaborate with your Stakeholders for shared understanding and insight/wisdom and then planning those next steps? We should work within after working outside our systems (depending on where you draw those boundaries) to meet the needs of those we serve.

  2. Couldn't agree more. They say that it took a whole generation of physicists to die off before the correctness of Einstein's theory of relativity was accepted by the scientific community. Lets hope L&D can move quicker than that. http://bit.ly/8X3Sar

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