The thing that irks me most in L&D at the moment is the comparisons made between ‘eating’ and ‘learning’ formats. Whether it be ‘bite-sized learning’, ‘snacking’ or the hideous term ‘feasting’ to describe traditional formal classroom programmes. All I think this comparison serves is to focus on duration and frequency and not the fundamental issues with both learning in business – and eating in the West today: ‘what is in it’ and ‘what it is doing’? With food, it is the nutritional value. In learning, it is ‘what it is helping business people to do better’.
‘Non-foods’ is a term that describes foods that ‘drench our tastebuds with fat, salt and sugar combinations that overstimulate without giving a sense of satisfaction – other than reaching the end of the packet.’ For me, this is micro-learning and any other generic e-learning that is not at all focused on improving the business performance in a given organisation – but instead just ticking the ‘learning + technology’ box.
Perhaps we could compare the abundance of information available today to the access many of us have to terrible foods. But if you are responsible for influencing and improving employee performance and building capability, then serving up ‘non-learning’ to employees is just like throwing candy bars at athletes.
A smarter way of using technology in L&D is to address actual business performance gaps and focusing on building the capability the business requires to achieve its strategic goals. You can do this quickly and easily using technology today but in a smart way that helps people to access the knowledge and know-how they need in order to perform and learn from the most successful and expert people that work in their organisation.
So, I’m not knocking shorter forms of ‘learning’ or ‘support’ – in fact, quite the opposite – but if we are focusing on portion-size to the detriment of nutritional value then we are focusing on the wrong things. Let’s make smart, informed decisions about the nutritional value of our learning and help workers to perform and grow – rather than dish up non-learning in the latest fad-format.
About the author:
David James is Chief Learning Strategist with Looop and a seasoned Talent Management, Learning & OD leader with nearly 20 years of experience in the field. Until recently, David was Director of Talent, Learning & OD for The Walt Disney Company’s EMEA region.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidInLearning