Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Transforming a Traditional Learning Culture into a Hybrid Adaptive Form--The Learning Principles Expert

Perhaps a good analogy of what we hope to accomplish would be the biological process of a metamorphosis that occurs in the life cycle of a monarch butterfly.

Some of the similarities that we can note are:

  • Like the Monarch butterfly, business is a living organism that proceeds through stages of change in its life-cycle
  • At the larva stage, changes in a business may just involve tweaks or enhancements that are not readily noteworthy while the vision, mission and service remain largely unchanged. Outside appearance, much like varieties of larvae, seem similar with the idea of "branding" being the distinguishing mark.
  • Movement to the next stage of change, as in the case of the monarch butterfly, always involves struggle against institutional inertia.
  • Movement to the next stage is also impacted by outside forces which may cause an organization to reach a plateau or to even cease operation and disappear as would be the case of a predator impacting the Monarch butterfly at one of its vulnerable stages.
  • When the monarch butterfly fulfills its final transformation, its opportunities to escape its former constraints and reach out to the greater world increases. What awaits business organizations that transform their learning cultures to their ultimate conclusion is a greater, more adaptive and more in sync connection with the expanding opportunities in a digitally connected collaborative world.
A Stage in the Transformation of a Business Learning Culture: The Learning Principles Expert
The obvious questions to ask in regards to this position are:
"What will the responsibilities be of someone in such a role?"
"Who will such a person report to?"
"What kind of organization resources would be needed to support such a role?" 

Some proposed responsibilities for such a person might be:

  1. Creating and Tracking Learning Profiles for Employees: If we accept the idea that in an information and learning age, we need to have employees always learning in order to support informed organizational goals then it makes sense that we use every opportunity to encourage and empower the learning activities of our employees. Both formal and informal learning are important and should be harnessed to the benefit of organizational goals. This would also help the organization obtain clear data on the intellectual and creative talent that exists within their staff. This is especially important in giving direction towards the goal of encouraging innovative thinking as a natural mindset in the work place.
  2. Collaborate with the Instructional Designer: A person in this role should be an expert on current adult learning principles as well as someone who is knowledgeable of the many ways on how adults use technology, such as social media, in their learning. This person should be an experienced educator with a sound understanding of effective pedagogical principles and also new and innovative pedagogical principles. The reason for this prerequisite is that in order to create an effective learning culture, you need a person who has the skillsets to create irresistibly engaging learning experiences in collaboration with the instructional designer.
  3. Design Learning Networks Connecting the Greater Global Business Network: One of the new and evolving initiatives that will prove very important to the survival of business organizations is called "open innovation". In order to make innovation more cost effective and overcome the "herding" mistake mentioned in the previous post this is a path that should be explored. An example of this type of thinking is the "open source software movement" that has resulted in very powerful and useful software applications without the huge capital required in the development and testing that is often seen in large software companies. The same type of thinking could be used as one path to innovation. You could maintain it as proprietary within a large organization or create temporary partnerships with other organizations within your particular business sector.
  4. Design Forums for Employee Innovative Idea Presentation and Testing: If we truly want to see employees engaged in collaborating on real world problems germane to organization interests then forums need to be designed where employees and their collaborative groups can present such ideas to a diversified but expert forum for exploration. Employees need to know that they are making meaningful contributions in helping the organization succeed. They need to feel that they are stakeholders in their future and that of the organization.
One of the vehicles for accomplishing the above is to put into place effective blended learning practices. A Learning Principles Expert could lead the way in such an endeavour.
The purpose of the above suggestions is to provoke some introspection and discussion. It is not all inclusive but it is a step to cause thoughtful engagement in the cause of transforming the learning culture so that an organization can adapt to the changing world outside its walls.
 Next... a consideration of the next two questions mentioned above

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