Friday, November 13, 2015

Re-Writing the DNA of a Learning Culture--Part III

In the last post, it was suggested that even though the design of an effective learning culture within a business organization has been demonstrated by example to be good for the long term prospects of an organization in an age of learning and innovation, there are still barriers to following through on what needs to be done that originate with the nature of today's business culture. A point that I made is that an effective learning culture is a driver for systemic innovation within an organization.


 In a very good post by Moe Glenner posted in LinkedIn titled: "Can Big Tech Regain Its Innovation Mojo", Moe suggests that there has been a shift in thinking towards not doing innovation within the company but instead, purchasing innovation. This approach to innovation in the long term is counter productive and represents one of the strategic challenges for a business looking to compete effectively in a globally networked economy. Henry Doss, an expert on innovation and its relationship to leadership, in an article for Forbes(Jan. 2015) titled: "Why Big Business Fails At Innovation" labelled this approach as "Herding" and describes it in the following as:

"When businesses outsource innovation and limit themselves to the purchase of innovative output from suppliers, they inevitably position themselves in the "me too" category. If there is a truly innovative product, strategy, market positioning or management paradigm out there to be bought and sold, then of course everyone is in the market for it. And inevitably, this competition to buy the newest innovation leads to purchase herding behaviour, with everyone leaping into the market place to "buy innovation".

This consumerism mindset which is part of the industrial age of thinking about things takes us away from being creators of new knowledge and skillsets and back into the past with all of its assumptions which are really out of place in the digital economy.

Credit: Robin Teigland

If we maintain this type of mindset then creating an effective learning culture is irrelevant because the business culture maintains the approach of "doing things the way that we have always done things".
With respect to L&D , there is a tug of war going on between the traditionalist perspective for business culture vs the new and evolving perspective that sees the need for developing an effective learning culture. In another very effective LinkedIn post by learning strategist, Deirdre Jensen titled: "The L&D  World is Splitting in Two", she details the nature of this struggle. I fall into the new camp and will suggest a new role that business organizations should consider in their attempts to transform their culture to one in tune with 21st century realities.

Re-Writing the DNA of the Corporate Learning Culture: The Learning Principles Expert

What I am going to suggest is changes to the learning culture in an incremental but discerning manner, starting with the creation of a new role tiled the Learning Principles Expert. This is predicated on the understanding that the roles of those who are intimately involved with the learning culture need reformation.

Rationale: We live in an age of learning where knowledge is growing at an exponential rate across many disciplines, many of which have direct impact on the business interests of organizations on a global scale. In this age, the creation of global networks that will enable business to collaborate across international borders are becoming an essential as we see the establishment of trading blocs such as the Trans Pacific Trading Partnership which is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy, about which agreement was reached on 5 October 2015 after 7 years of negotiations. The pattern for these networks is already in play. The ability of employees within an organization to be effective real world problem solvers and online collaborators is becoming a 21st century essential. The use of  effective "blended online learning" by employees needs to become more and more an essential in the recruitment of talented staff.

Organizational Fit: A great idea, not my own, that has been suggested by others is the establishment of a "Guru" line within the organizational structure with its own separate line for advancement and funding. One of the problems of merely placing it within L&D is the inevitable budget struggle. For the Learning Principles Expert, this is the approach that I would suggest.

What are the responsibilities of a Learning Principles Expert? This will be the focus of my next post...

[If you feel that the ideas presented in this post should be broadcast further a field to promote open discussion and hopefully, inspire great ideas, then please use social media to pass this on or put a link to this blog for reference by others within your organization!]

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