Monday, March 06, 2006

The Three Rs: Rants, Raves, and Reflections

Every participant to the Learning 2005 Conference last fall was given a copy of Learning Rants, Raves, and Reflections. I finally got around to reading it this weekend.

This collection of articles by training and development specialists was edited by Elliott Masie of the Masie Center and published by Pfeiffer. The idea was to get a “state of the union” update on workplace learning from those on the front lines…the good, the bad and the ugly so to speak. There is a particular emphasis, as would be expected, on both the promise and shortcomings of eLearning as it is practiced today.

On the whole, the book is an uneven, disjointed effort. Some of the submissions are broad
industry-wide reflections, and others have a much more personal, “here’s what we have being doing” flavour. This is a danger of such collections.

However, there are some good points in this collection. Here are a few.

Elliott Masie, The Masie Center

  • “Stop using silly numbers, measure what counts”…silly numbers include total learners trained, learner evaluations, completion rates, focus on organizational results…the numbers that matter
  • "Content is lonely without context”…workplace learning is too focused on content….it is context that is important, what makes the learning real, and understandable and applicable
  • “We are rapidly moving toward the deconstruction of the course”…learning will be on demand, and available in smaller, digestible chunks at the point of need

David Metcalf, DM2 Research and Design

  • “Rather than being relegated to a corporate overhead cost, smart learning experts are seeking out opportunities to make significant financial and operational impact on their organizations.”

Beth Thomas, Bank One

  • “How many times have you seen, or been part of, training on broken processes? Why doesn’t anyone ask, WHY are we training on this? Can’t we make it simpler so we don’t have to have any training?” Not everything is a training problem…it could be a process problem, know the difference.
  • “Stay away from all that training-specific lingo during conversations with executives! The way you sell it is by understanding what the top business goals of the company are, what type of people are needed to get the job done, and how this translates to shareholder value.”
Scott Sutker, Hewitt Associates

- Successful training vendors view themselves as business partners not salespeople.

Larry Israelite, Pitney Bowes

  • Three mistakes we make in workplace learning: we are attracted to things (i.e. technology toys) instead of thoughts, we exclude learning professionals from the creation of learning, and we put too much faith in pundits, instead of finding our own solutions
Lance Dublin, Consultant
  • “What managers care about are measurable business results in a language they can understand: profits, costs of sales, time to proficiency, and increases and decreases in key business indicators.”….Training professionals experience the “Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome” (get no respect), because they do not talk in a language that management understands

Nancy DeViney, IBM Learning Solutions

  • “Content will be delivered within the context of a person’s role and interests, seamlessly embedded into the workflow.”
Do these themes resonate with you as well…why, or why not? Let me know.

We will be exploring many of these issues in our upcoming webinars this week and online courses, which begin on April 3rd.


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