Learning on the Edge: 5 Growing Trends That Are Driving Learning and Development Now

Trend #1 — Learning Reality: Differentiating What You Want the Learner to Do vs. Know

The setting was a Q&A session with a panel of corporate learning executives at a university-sponsored symposium on executive education. The question from an audience participant pertained to the importance of an academic grounding as a foundation to corporate learning. The quick response from one corporate learning officer: “My CEO doesn’t necessary care what people know; he cares what they do.” Other panelists affirmed the response with an unmistakable head nod.

What about your CEO or senior executive team? What about your front-line supervisors or employees?

Given the overload of information today, some learning, not all, suggests differentiating what the organization desires the employee to do from what they should know. Where to begin? In separating necessary action from a need to know, consider critical moments of need. For example, when learning for the first time or learning more about a topic or skill, communicating the “theory of the case” may be an important element of training. However, when it is important for an employee to remember or apply an action step or when things change or go wrong, it is important for the learner to know what to do.

A manager who can effectively begin the on-boarding process for a new employee when the new hire reports to work is effectively doing what the organization desires-smoothly and efficiently helping a new employee become productive faster. A bank teller who knows how to visually inspect a check to determine whether or not it is properly endorsed is doing what the bank desires-preventing loss.

How are organizations structuring learning to meet these important needs? Learning solutions are increasingly more effectively considering the learner and work environment, how the learning conforms to the learner’s needs, and providing just enough learning to perform as desired but not more. Providing a set of references, job, aids, blended learning, assessment loops, and feedback loops can effectively transition the learner through instruction about what he or she should do and support continued performance.

Are learning solutions in your organization keeping pace? How could differentiating what the learner needs to do vs. what the learner needs to know to improve the performance of your business?

Co-authored with Laura Butcher, Owner and President, The Learning Point (www.thelearningpoint.com)