There are a serious number of changes that are affecting organizations. We’re seeing changes in the information flow, in technology, and in what we know about ourselves. Importantly, these are things that L&D needs to acknowledge and respond to. What are these changes?
It’s old news that things are happening faster. We’re being overwhelmed with information, and that rate is accelerating. On the other hand, our tools to manage the information flow are also advancing.
Which is the second topic. We’re getting more powerful technology. We can create systems that do tasks that used to be limited to humans. They can also partner with us, providing information based upon who we are, what we’re doing, and what else is going on.
And there are increasing demands for accountability (and transparency). Your actions should be justified. What are you doing, why, and what effect is it having? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re going to be looking for a job.
Most importantly, we’ve learned quite a bit about ourselves that is contrary to many pre-existing beliefs. Specifically ones that influence organizational approaches. Our myths about how we think, work, and learn are holding us back from achieving optimal outcomes.
For one, there’s a persistent belief that our thinking is in our heads. Yet research shows that our thinking is distributed across our tools. We use external representations to capture at least part of our thinking, and access information that we can’t keep in our heads effectively. Yet we seem to depend on courses to put it in the head instead of tools to put it in the world.
Our thinking is also distributed across others. “You’re no longer what you know, but who you know” is a new mantra. So is “the room is smarter than the smartest person in the room” (with the caveat: if you manage the process right ;). Informal and social learning is the work. Yet we still act as if we believe that people should solve problems independently.
And we also act as if how we learn is by information dump. Add a quiz, so we know they can recognize the right answer if they see it, and they’ve learned! Er, no. Science tells us that this is perhaps the worst thing we could do to facilitate learning.
In short, our practices are out of date. We’re using patch-it (or ignore-it) solutions to systemic issues. We address simple things as if they’re not all connected. It’s time to get on top of what’s known, and then act accordingly. Are you ready to join the 21st century?