Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.
Six years ago, Pfeiffer published Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance. The book advanced the then-controversial thesis that people mostly learn their jobs experientially. Workers learn more in the coffee room than in the classroom.
They do not move
I thought I had made a sound business case for investing more in informal learning, but few organizations changed their ways. They continued to put almost all of the training budget into schooling novices. They acted as if the natural way of informal learning didn’t exist. Or was someone else’s responsibility. They squandered the opportunity to increase their effectiveness by becoming networked learning organizations.
More smoke than fire
Today informal learning tops many training department agendas. They’re attracted by the low price tag. However, few of them are doing much systematically. They give lip-service to doing more with less but run a few experiments rather than embracing the philosophy. Times are tough, and they are leaving money on the table. This is crazy-making. I’m convinced that working smarter by boosting informal performance is a key to survival in today’s topsy-turvy business climate.
Showing organizations what to do
I’ve resolved to turn the situation around by showing organizations what to do — how to increase the effectiveness and depth of informal learning — in the larger context of working smarter in the digital enterprise. Working Smarter is not education for intellectual enrichment; it is how people get better at doing their jobs over time.
The first phase is research, identifying what works best, gathering good examples and stories, building learning communities, creating model, drawing the graphics, shooting the video, and communicating the recommended approaches. This is ongoing.
Vendors who sponsor the research will gain insight into how to design products and services to support working smarter, thereby improving client profitability. Vendors also get bragging rights, insight into customer needs, and guidance on sustainable product development. Sponsors may host webinars, conference presentations, Major sponsors gain access to the Internet Time Alliance brain trust as well.
This is a live project. I’m currently getting my arms around it, reviewing changes over the past half dozen years, and pondering where we’ll be headed in the next two or three.
Help me unearth practical examples and stories of organizations that are taking advantage of informal learning. Among the questions I’m looking for answer to…
I’ll keep you posted. Get in touch or leave a comment if you’d like to participate.