Here’s a one liner that might confuse, shock and perhaps, enrage some workplace learning teams. Building L&D products, solutions or tools (alone) won’t solve 99% of supposed workplace performance problems.
Before we begin:
If you’ve read any of my stuff before, particularly my work on Steal These Thoughts!, then you’ll know I have a somewhat obsession with human development and the exploration of meaning.
I’m of the opinion that having meaning in life is more important than happiness. Mainly because happiness is an emotional state, one that is fleeting and cannot be sustained. Whereas meaning is something that drives us, gives us a sense of being and will more likely provide the moments of happiness we seek.
A quick note before we begin:
This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for sometime, it’s taken me nearly 8 months to finalise what you read now.
I’ve always been fascinated by human behaviour and exploring why we do the things we do. As a society, mental health issues have been on a scary increase over the last 10-15 years and particularly in my generation, the anointed ‘millennials’.
I’m a believer in the fact that all of us in some way are dealing with the mechanics of a path and way of engaging with the world that we did not choose when we were infants, being most likely thrust upon us by those who raised us. As I’ve grown older, it’s become pretty clear to me that many of us struggle daily, because some of the things we have been taught in the environment from our younger years don’t actually help us live a good life now.
This post is not me telling you what to do, rather it’s a bunch of thoughts and insights that I feel can help us all find some understanding in why we operate the way we do, whether that’s in how we think, feel or behave. It’s ultimately about recognising that you have a choice in everything in life and we have the power to change anything.
Knowing how to build the right skills is not as easy as one might think…
In a world of bloated centralised content catalogues that mostly promote decision fatigue. The aspiration of the self-led learning movement at scale is quite difficult to achieve.
Simple really. Many of us don’t know what we need to learn. And, even when we do, knowing what resources will actually help us in the quest to build a skill is not so clear cut.
This is where the promise of most learning technology falls apart. Often marketed as the solution to any organisation’s skill-building problems by providing on-demand content. This one-size-fits-all is still relatively standard in the education industry today.
As users, we’re peppered with limitless amounts of content on thousands of topics. But, how does one know what is worth our time and what is not? The choice of content and, with that, the quality of skill-building is all driven by the user who often doesn’t know what they should focus on.
It doesn’t really work, does it? 🤔
What we need is the right content at the right time to provide the desired outcome. Not more content with more choices that we often don’t have the expertise to correctly select.
We know that a lot of skill-building takes place in the day to day. That can’t be disputed. We learn every day through what we experience, but this doesn’t always mean we acquire the right level of knowledge or behaviours for long term growth.
We might learn something in the moment to solve a problem right there and then, but that’s often just one piece of the puzzle. To scale that skill and work towards mastery, one must intentionally seek out more knowledge and practice in that area.
This is where I find many L&D teams get lost.
The last 5 – 7 years have seen such a focus on just in time solutions and building self-led learning. That we’ve forgotten that this is a tool in the wider toolkit, not a cure-all silver bullet or the only approach on which to build your organisational capability strategy.
In order to enable continued growth and strengthen our skills, we need a combination of both intentional learning and in the moment learning experiences.
In the moment experiences do what they say in the title. They help us absorb new know-how quickly and apply it to solve a problem in the moment. We store this in the hard drive known as our brain to call upon in similar future scenarios.
This will give us part of that puzzle I mentioned, but not all of it.
This is where intentional learning comes into the picture.
We can take those lessons learnt from our in the moment experiences and scale them in a structured experience with the right guidance to the most relevant resources, tools and experiences to deepen the expertise in those skills which allow a greater command of it.
This is what I find is missed when talking about learning strategies. It’s not choosing one over the other, it’s making them co-exist to deliver an outcome.
In the moment, on the job, just in time or whatever you want to call it, is great. It will help solve problems in the moments that matter most but it’s not as great in deepening expertise in an area long term.
This is why blending intentional practices and in the moment experiences can not only improve our own growth but for all in organisations today too.
Again, just my 2 cents on an early morning as I sip some delicious warm white tea.
Before you go… 👋
If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.
Who doesn’t love campfires? They’re warm, comforting and have crackling sounds to challenge any ASMR track. And, they’ve also served as an important destination for centuries…
That of a point for human connection.