I was talking with a colleague over lunch the other day about her company, platform, and organizational learning issues. And something occurred to me: we’re trying to merge onto a freeway right at a blindspot.
In orgs, there’s a real tendency to bucket any discussion of learning into ‘training’, and dismiss it. You’ve heard me go off again and again about how I think learning includes innovation, creativity, problem-solving, etc, and that’s because I’m trying to make learning the umbrella term for all the good stuff & secret sauce, not automatically shunted off into the realms of cost-center and irrelevance. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think training has to be irrelevant (though in practice much of it is). The problem is that those same executives who identify a problem and demand a training solution for it aren’t open to a more discerning analysis of the problem, more enlightened learning practice, or more. Regardless, it’s easy to get ignored as soon as they hear ‘learning’.
So then you can look at another channel to come in, and the obvious alternative is knowledge management (KM). Except that, too, has a real easy knee-jerk rejection. The initial wave of KM had so much hype it could only under-deliver on unrealistic expectations (as has happened before with AI and expert systems, as well as every new management phase). So, KM also is a difficult sell.
The problem, then, is where do you come in? What is the fog-penetrating terminology that will help get the C-suite to really ‘get’ that you’re talking about stuff that’s mission-critical? That’s a big blindspot. Collective intelligence? I just read that ‘innovation’ as a term is dead. ‘Social media’ can bring up bad images as well. And anything called 2.0 is liable to be seen as hype, whether it’s Web or Enterprise.
The sad thing is, there’s some real ‘there’ there, but it’s an uphill sell. Any bright ideas about how to market a real-game changer to people who need it, but can’t see it?