Friday, January 16, 2015

David Kelly "Building a Learning Strategy from an Ecosystem of Resources" #ATDTK

These are my live blogged notes from David Kelly's concurrent session here at ATD TechKnowledge, happening this week in Las Vegas. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

A shift in the ways we define learning strategies within our organizations.

Why don't orgs have a learning strategy? Some orgs the l&d as a team is a new idea -- they're just hitting the low hanging fruit and there's no strategy in place.

A shift happened a while ago -- we went from being training orgs to learning orgs.  Nothing really changed though.

Most orgs - if they have a strategy -- have a training strategy. Not a learning strategy.

A training strategy - there are needs in the org and we address them via training.

A learning and performance strategy -- orgs care about what people can DO and not what they KNOW.

What is an ecosystem? Generally has a nature connotation (the rain forest) - it's a specific scientific thing.  "A community of living organisms in conjunction with nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system."

Lots of factors go into helping people learn and perform -- and only part of that is training.

Let's take this definition of an ecosystem in nature and apply that to the workplace.

So what is a learning and performance ecosystem? It's an organic entity that evolves over time. It's finding the resources all around that support performance (not just training!). We've got multiple systems in our orgs -- in a well-run org, those systems are all connected.

It's a new mindset for those in L&D and training.

How do we interrupt work the least? Providing the least disruptive support to help people and give them what they need.

Technology -- the systems we use that impact our performance -- may not be a training issue, but we have to factor that in.

What are the incentives for employees to perform?

Culture is huge.

Training tends to be delivery of community and information and not partners in performance.

How much time do you waste trying to find something on your company's Intranet -- and it takes too long and so you just saw "I'm just going to Google it." Can I access what I need on this device, that's appropriate for this device, when I need it? How much time is wasted because I can't FIND something.

Are you using your LMS to its full advantage? Most LMSs can do more than just push out courses. Are you taking advantage of that? Do you know what's available to you and how you can use it better?

A learning and performance ecosystem has a PURPOSE.

You don't CREATE an ecosystem within your org. It exists. It's there. It may not be strong or effective, but it is there. There are a lot of resources out there already.

A Learning and Performance Ecosystem is a community of people in conjunction with the processes, information, and technology of their environment, interacting as a system supporting development.

This definition is different than training.

In a natural ecosystem, you have producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Producers: create and add to the environment
Consumers: use that stuff, they consume it
Decomposers: get rid of the stuff that's no longer used

In an learning and performance ecosystem, the producers are from all over the place. Not just training/L&D. But you need to understand WHERE your producers are.

L&D may not need to create that content anymore, they just need to help people connect to it.

Who are the consumers? Is what is produced what people actually need and can they get to it?

You're sitting with a customer and need info. You're not going to log into your LMS, look for that course, and track down the info on page 32. You need the info you need and when you need it.

How do we decompose things that have lived out their usefulness? How are things removed from the ecosystem? In nature, this happens. The dead tree -- the fungus that breaks it down. If there's stuff out there in your system that no one is using, get it out of there. Don't confuse people with outdated content.

This is not just the training department's role. We can help facilitate activities that are going on in the environment.

The environment needs to be nurtured. This is essentially about culture. Removing barriers. Helping things grow.

If you remove something from the environment, what's the effect on the ecosystem? If I take this resource out of here, what's going to happen? Turns out the population B, C, and D really used that resource that you removed because A was no longer using it.

What effect does introducing something NEW have on the ecosystem?

The importance of bees. They help things grow, they carry things from one place to another. Organizations have bees. They help info move and help ideas extend beyond the org. Who are the bees in your org? Do you have enough of them? Are they free to roam?

Some people are just wired this way. They look to share info and solve problems.

Can you increase your bee population?

Does your culture support the idea of sharing beyond the hierarchy?

Sally doesn't share because she's rewarding for KNOWING everything. So she's not going to change. How do we get her to share?

Change the way we look at the jobs that we do as L&D people.

Find the bees are bring them in.

We typically try and get approval first. Instead, just go out and do it. Set up a wiki tomorrow. You may not have good luck convincing your senior team the benefits of bees. Don't ask for permission for this -- they'll be looking at your role through the filter of what learning has always looked like (school). Instead, do a small pilot wiki and then share the stories of the results and how it helped people do their jobs.

Albert Einstein: "The environment is everything that isn't me."

What is really giving me the support that I need? We can build an infrastructure to support this, but we need to start by changing mindsets. Change your view of your role and what you can do to support this in the organization.

Performance support is part of the equation.

They might not need to learn something. They might just need help doing something.

eLearning Guild Research Report just released on Learning & Performance Ecosystems.

The use of this term might be spreading faster right now than its understood. Don't just change your labels without changing your behavior.

Ecosystems are organic -- you can't buy an ecosystem solution.

Let's put learning into the bigger conversation that it's been left out of.

More resources from David Kelly on his blog.

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