Developing a learning culture – Sukh Pabial

I remember not so long ago, developing a learning culture was what L&D professionals were most concerned with. Thinking back on it, and reflecting on recent years of technology development, I wonder if we really understood what we wanted to achieve? Not in terms of the aim, but in terms of the how.

I mean not more than 10 years ago, online learning wasn’t really a thing because the technology wasn’t there, Encarta was probably still high up people’s reference list, Google was just becoming a thing, e-learning was pretty niche and restricted to compliance stuff, YouTube was becoming a thing too, communities of practise were proper out there if they happened at all, social media was My Space and Friends Reunited, On Demand TV was what you had with Home Choice and knowledge management systems were expensive.

I wonder if we look back on the companies who were lauded as having great learning cultures were the ones who were doing 70:20:10 type stuff but never had that name for it?

I look at today’s organisations, with the tech so much more advanced than we could imagine, and with much deeper understanding of what it takes to create a learning culture and how to design great learning solutions, and I wonder how we define that in today’s terms? Is it even still a thing that we are trying to pursue? If not, what is our goal as L&D/OD professionals?

My biggest challenge, in most organisations I’ve been with and in discussing with many others, is cultivating that change to happen through others in the business. Some examples:

A manager asked me to help think about how to develop customer service training. After discussing various supplier options and who the target audience was, I started asking questions around using internal capability instead of external suppliers. People are clever, get them together and we’ll create a solution that is homegrown. The manager will probably still go down the external route, but that conversation about internal capability has started. I’ll keep advocating it too as it’s the right thing to do.

Another manager asked me to consider how to deliver training on a system to all people in the company. I am firmly against mandatory training on such things as that’s never the way to get buy in for the system. Instead I’m going to create a whole advertising campaign about it using insights from marketing – and don’t forget folks, marketing works. I’m also going to make use of Skype for Business (the new name for MS Lync) to deliver learning to people at their desks and have people going out to sites and troubleshooting for people live.

These are my challenges. I’m clearly an advocate for a broad range of learning solutions, and it’s about what works for the organisation, and it’s also about how I advocate for those solutions when business leaders come to me wanting a training course.

Context has always mattered. What works in my organisation may not work in your organisation. What worked in a previous organisation may work in this one with some tweaks. In creating a learning culture, it’s the context which always wins and determines how a learning solution can work.

About the author.

Sukh is a learning & organisational development professional, co-founder of L&D Connect, a community of learning and development professionals focused on developing the L&D profession and our skills. He applies principles of Positive Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience to OD / L&D design and delivery.  Ambition to continually push the L&D industry to be the best we can in our approach, our thinking and our delivery.  Design and delivery of learning events ranging from leadership and management development, interpersonal skills, personal development and recruitment.

An experienced facilitator of events from team building, to workshops needing problem solving/decision making/creative solutions, also experienced in supporting informal learning to become a regular part of business activity.  Advocate of social learning technologies to support organisational learning.

Follow Sukh on twitter @sukhpabial or check out his blog by simply clicking here

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