Forget ‘the New Normal’, think ‘the New Specific’

Covid-19, lockdown and social distancing had and still have a major disruptive influence on the learning and development industry. In many cases we saw the classic Freeze, Fight, Flight reactions by training providers, learning leaders and trainers. Some just got paralyzed, doing nothing and hoping that the ‘storm’ would be over soon. Others tried to fight and protect their programs, interventions, initiatives and courses as long as possible. Also, there was a massive flight towards ‘online’ with the webinar as the safest option to choose. It’s hard to say what was best or worked best but in general the intentions were to do the best thing for sure while facing a crisis.

Now the dust is starting to settle in many places, everybody is talking about ‘the new normal’. Many say things will never be the same like before. Suggesting we will never return to classroom, live instructor-led training. Confirming each other that online learning will be the default for sure. Discussions about ‘the new normal’ very much focus on the delivery mode of learning and I think that is a huge mistake. Instead of choosing the ‘delivery-mode-new-normal’ learning professionals should better focus on ‘the new specific’. On what is relevant now, on what kind of support professionals need now in their specific (changed) context. On the ‘relevancy-mode-new-specific’. Not defending and transforming learning stuff to online versions without questioning their relevancy. 

Learning interventions (and performance support!) should be designed to support professionals in getting their jobs done in their specific circumstances. Covid-19, lock down and social distancing might very much change the circumstances in which jobs can still or need to be performed (or not!). Moving ‘old learning stuff’ that isn’t relevant any more to online makes no sense. Learning interventions, programs, training, exercises were once (hopefully deliberately) designed based on a good analysis of what professionals needed in their specific context to get their job done (and don’t be surprised if this was not the case). So first we should be brave and check if the analysis and assumptions ‘pre-covid’ were clear and are still valid. If not we should be even more brave and scrap the stuff that isn’t effective any more. Instead of fight to keep the ‘old stuff’ and flight to move it online to serve ‘the new normal’ it’s better to reconnect with the professionals we want to support and find out what they need. What they need to get their jobs done in ‘the new specific’.

About the author – Ger Driesen: 

Think of someone connecting people, ideas and inspiration in the global L&D community and you’ve just created a good description of Ger Driesen. He is the Learning Innovation Leader at aNewSpring, the provider of a learning experience platform. In this role, he focusses on sharing the latest insights with L&D professionals to inspire them to design, developed and deliver learning the best way.

During his career, he has had a variety of L&D roles, from L&D consultant, trainer and facilitator, to L&D manager and entrepreneur. He’s known as ‘the Dutch L&D trendcatcher’ based on his articles, blogs and tweets on L&D trends and he is a regular speaker at international conferences.

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