The Non-Training Approach to Workplace Learning: Learning in the Social Workplace

Stowe Boyd
Nov 26, 2011 · 2 min read

The socially networked business (‘social business’) is one that has moved past business process and the organization chart as defining modalities and maps. One of the casualties is traditional course-based training and learning, where people are pulled from context and trained in an abstracted manner.

Social learning is really about creating a culture where people’s natural tendency to cooperate leads to people learning new skills and reasoning in context, without the need for (as much) our of context, classroom-style teaching and learning.

But there is a conflict with older, larger, and conservative organizations:

Jane Hart via Learning In The Social Workplace

[…] although Jay Cross and others have brought to the attention of the learning profession the fact that most learning in the workplace occurs outside any formal learning intervention — informally, in the workflow — the only way that most training departments have been able to deal with this is by trying to “manage” it and build it in to the training blend. But blend it as much as they like — it won’t change the fact people will still learn informally and continuously — outside of training events — and L&D will never be able to manage it all!

But now, the emergence of social media has given individuals and teams the tools to support their own learning and performance needs much more easily and powerfully themselves. And by doing so many are already circumventing the L&D function — and citing a number of reasons for doing this:

  • L&D is too slow to respond to their needs
  • courses are not the most appropriate way to solve their problems
  • they don’t want to have to leave the workflow for the solution
  • e-learning frequently annoys adult learners as it treats them like idiots
  • and they don’t want to have Big Brother breathing down their necks monitoring and tracking their every move.

What is needed quite urgently is a new approach to helping those in the workplace do their jobs, or do them better — in more effective, efficient and relevant ways in the modern workplace. An approach that is NOT about designing and delivering courses, but is about working with individuals and teams at the grass roots to both encourage and support continuous learning practices as well as to identify more appropriate solutions to business and performance problems through non-training interventions.

Jane Hart has set up a new website to explore these ideas, here.

The Non-Training Approach to Workplace Learning: Learning in the Social Workplace

Stowe Boyd

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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