Thursday, January 08, 2009

Learning in Hard Economic Times: A Delicate Balancing Act

Harold Jarche has an interesting post concerning innovation and learning that I post here in its entirety.

In Innovating in the Great Disruption, Scott Anthony suggests three disciplines necessary to foster innovation in difficult economic times - placing a premium on progress; mastering paradox; and learning to love the low end. He also discusses the importance of learning;

" Innovators will need to continue to find creative, cheap ways to bring their ideas forward. Fortunately, they can tap into a plethora of powerful tools to facilitate rapid learning."

Rapid learning is not PowerPoint slides turned into online courses but rather increasing the ways to connect ideas and people. This is the future of training and e-learning, or what I call ABC (anything but courses). Anthonys third point, love the low end, also speaks to the use of inexpensive tools such as web services or open source software. If learning professionals can be seen as catalysts for innovation, then even in difficult times will their future look bright.

While I will agree that the corporate world is mistaken in believing that a one-day or two-day training program is sufficient to develop employees in a specific process, I fear that Harold is going overboard with his "ABC" idea. Without a base, formal presentation of some sort to provide a framework for ongoing learning between people you could end up with a case of the blind men describing the elephant.

Harold is correct in stating that "[r]apid learning is not turning PowerPoint slides into online courses," but it is also not a matter of setting up a bunch of social web services to facilitate discussion. In fact what is telling about the quote he provides is what preceded it.

While more and more companies recognize the name of the game is transformation, the tolerance for blind experimentation has never been lower.

And that is too true. In times like these, the corporate world looks to cost centers such as training as the first place to make cuts. So any proposed innovation will require a balance between something old and something new, which is what I suggested way back in 2007.

Harold Jarche » Innovation and Learning

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