On April 27, 2011, Clark Quinn and I kicked off a meeting of the Chief Learning Officer Executive Network at Symantec in Mountain View. The Executive Networks people took notes; here are the main points from my presentation.
Work Is Changing
- Work is no longer just doing just what is in your job description.
- In 1986, 75% of the knowledge that a worker needed was stored in their heads.
- By 2006, that number was estimated to be 9%. The needed information is no longer in the worker’s mind but it is “out there” in the minds of others.
- The need for personal, informal networks – to be able to find information — has never been greater.
- We are moving from the information age (knowledge workers) to the conceptual age (conceptual workers).
- Historically, most managers didn’t make time for employees to learn, grow, and develop. Now work and learning are converging into a new type of work known as conceptual work.
- Innovation has to be baked into corporate of culture.
- Conceptual work involves gaining experience, learning, developing new thoughts and new ideas, and even developing new lines of business.
- In this new era of work, the potential value that a worker can create is 200 times greater than average, because they no longer have physical limits.
- Informal learning does not mean haphazard learning. It opens up possibilities and resources – the sky’s the limit
- Research in many countries has found that 80% of the learning required for workers to do their jobs was acquired by watching someone else do the work and other informal means.
- Learning is not formal or informal: it’s always a mix of both.
- Novices – those new at a job – often learn more effectively and quickly in a formal learning environment. Experienced workers prefer to acquire needed information through informal channels. You need to provide a framework for informal learning, but experienced workers don’t want to go to “courses.”
- In informal learning situations, when someone is struggling, others step in to help in “real time.”
- Spending/learning paradox: The majority of the training budget in most organizations is spent on formal learning – the place where it actually has the least impact on performance.
- Training departments know how to produce formal learning because it is like school.
- Management has to have faith that there is productive work going on and that informal learning is enabling workers to get the information that they need to do their jobs.
- If you have high expectations of people, they will live up to them; have low expectations, and they will live down to them.
Education vs. Engagement
- Learning is more than just education.
- Learning should include real, meaningful tasks, not knowledge recitation, but application.
- Learning needs to be about the problems that a worker really cares about.
- Learning: Natural, social, spontaneous, informal, unbounded, adaptive, fun.
- Learning engages the heart and mind.
- Meaningful conversation is the strongest learning tool!
Classroom vs. Workscape
- The traditional classroom environment is apart from work – it is where training is delivered via “push” mode. It is packaged inside of a program and is delivered piecemeal. It includes events, is generally static and the end result is that the learner comes away knowing things.
- In a workscape, learning is embedded in the work, learning emerges in pull mode. It is a fluid, holistic, process. It emerges as a result of working smarter.
- In this environment learning is natural, social, spontaneous, informal, unbounded, adaptive and FUN. It involves conversation as the main ingredient.
- Happy people learn more effectively and do more work.
- Study by Nicholas A Christakis & James H. Fowler
- Social networks have clusters of happy and unhappy people. A person’s happiness is related to the happiness of their friends, their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends.
- Happy people tend to be located in the center of their social networks and to be located in large clusters of other happy people.
- What are you doing and how happy are you?
- What makes people happy? In this order: sex, conversation music, walking, eating, cooking, shopping, children, reading, commuting, work is on the bottom.
- Work should be increasingly about conversations. Conceptual work – conversations that are paid for.
- Examples of the power of social networks relating to weight and smoking – if you have friends who are obese or smoke (or they have friends who are obese or smoke), you are more likely to be obese or smoke.
New Paradigm: Working Smarter
- Dirty words: training, learner eLearning, informal, social, school, learning. Don’t use these words in an elevator with an executive! Now call it working smarter.