Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Rise of New Technology and the Paradox of Learning

A fundamental understanding that will shock both formal education organizations and decision makers in business organizations is this:

" You do not have to learn every piece of technology that appears as the newest, trendy thing in order to safely and productively navigate the new reality of the 21st century!"

To the committed cyber-geek, this is tantamount to heresy and to those who have struggled with learning new technology, they are saying that: "I knew it all along!"

credit: www.

Organizational Errors in Introducing New Technologies to Staff

Credit: Kapu)

Resistance to Change: Employees have good reason for demonstrating a resistance to change within an organization. Such resistance can be communicated to them through the actions of the decision makers within the organization. Such actions often take the form of the following:

  • There is no attempt to re-visit the mission and core values of the organization or any attempt to communicate to employees that this is even being considered as an organizational priority. It is evidenced in the fact that the only change that is permitted is tweaking of some things which very often do nothing to change the ways of doing things that have been in place for decades. Leadership has no vision of what the organization should look like taking into account technological change.

Timelines for Implementing New Technology: Another error in introducing new              technology to employees is the use of unrealistic timelines required for mastery of the technology whether it is software applications, hardware or both. This creates unnecessary levels of stress and frustration for employees at all levels. So, the question becomes:

"How do we resolve this problem so that we have meaningful sustained engagement of employees in their learning?"

Three potential solutions that could be implemented individually or in a hybrid form of all three, might be the following:

  • Creation of a Technology "Sandbox"-- Believe it or not adults still need time to "play" and this is especially true with new technology. It has been stated that 90% of learning these days happens as informal learning outside of business hours. It is on this point that businesses should take their cue and create a 24/7 "technology sandbox" login site where employees can play with the new technology outside the stress of business hours. This is especially true with new software apps. However, there is also great potential in using interactive simulations that allow employees to try out new procedures through role playing and then seeing the consequences of their actions before embedding learning behaviours into their work routine. For example, one area that has been explored is customer relations where the employee has to resolve a problem so that the interests of the organization are maintained but also the concerns of the customers are addressed. Similar simulations can be set up to simulate manufacturing hardware problems. The key here is that the employee receives immediate feedback that doesn't automatically create a risk of a poor performance evaluation.

  • Micro-Learning Implementation-- This is the procedure of breaking learning up into smaller chunks for easier learning and review if necessary. One of the real problems of our age deals with the fact that we are not adept in managing time. With the growth of BYOD and 24/7 connection to the Internet, micro-learning makes sense. This enables an employee to use a tablet or Smart Phone to access a learning module wherever they might be other than at work. This fits well with the first suggestion. The caveat here is that the micro-learning modules must be well designed and should be memorable, meaningful, motivational and measurable. Without these qualities, employees won't stick with them.

  • Develop Mentoring Relationships Between Those Who Get It and Those Who Don't-- An important term to introduce to staff at all levels is the term "Co-Learner". In this age of learning and the rapid growth of new technology, it makes good business sense to encourage the development of these relationships. One benefit it gives us is that it forces us to admit that: 
 "We Don't Know Everything!"

          This is a hard thing for SME's to admit but Subject Matter Experts need to re-think their roles!

The Great Paradox of Learning vs. Training

When we consider all the procedures that have been employed for decades in helping our employees learn all that they need to know in the performance of their labours, we are faced with the daunting question:

"Are our training protocols in sync with the current research on learning science in regards to adults in the 21st century or have we lost our vision and purpose to maintain the status quo?"

Credit: www.

We need to make sure that organizational learning matches with how employees learn outside the workplace where they are connected to the world in a variety of contexts.

Some steps that can be taken in a cost effective way might be the following:

  • Changing the mindset of the organization so that it moves from the "training" mindset that carries a great deal of negative baggage with it to a "learning culture" mindset. One way to begin this change is to separate the dreaded but necessary "compliance training" from the category of organizational learning for the advancement of employee learning. The fact is that in many organizations, compliance training gives learning a bad name in the minds of employees.

  • Using the "mentoring relationship" mentioned to develop actual learning communities devoted to improved performance within disciplines or departments of the business organization. This should not be limited to internal learning communities but should also result in networks online forming external learning communities in the specified discipline. A wealth of information and knowledge exists on the web in many disciplines. Making the right connections can impact not only employee performance but also enhance brand image on a much wider scale within the global economy.

Finally, in order to resolve this paradox involving training and learning within business organizations, there is a need to expand our abilities to design engaging learning experiences that capitalize on e-Learning and blended learning which are becoming more and more the indicators of a healthy and dynamic business organization.

The question that we are left with is:

"Are we prepared as business leaders to take the first risk to encouraging an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset within our employees so as to move forward into the future? "