Sunday, February 8, 2015

Droughts and Storms: Learning should be like rain - gentle and regular

After too many years in the chill winters of Chicago I've now been in the Bay Area for coming up for 3 years.

California has been in a drought for a few years and desperately needs rain. My new home is in Napa, and the agricultural nature of this area means that it is particularly concerned about the lack of rain. So the rain that is soaking Northern California this weekend is welcomed by all, me included, even if it's keeping me off my bike.

But the type of rain we are getting is not ideal. A few days of heavy downpours quickly saturates dry ground, and runs into creeks and rivers that can't always take that much flow. All too quickly it runs off into the Bay or the ocean.

And sitting here trapped by the rain, I can't help but think how similar this pattern is to so much in the way of workplace learning.

A workforce parched of the skills and nourishment that they need to flourish and grow, And then all of a sudden there comes a deluge. It rarely comes with adequate time to prepare, When it comes it's in concentrated form. New facts and information pouring in, without time to get absorbed before the next set comes rushing in to follow. The minds of the learners fill up quickly and but the facts are still coming. Instead of giving them time to absorb and reflect on what they have just heard we move on to the next chapter. Instead of making time for people to integrate their new learning along with their existing body of knowledge we keep pouring. And worst of all instead of giving time to practice using their new skills we look for ways to bring it to their work, we add to the flow of facts until it runs past being useful and is instead wasted.

If we want to link learning to better performance, and if we don't then we are in the wrong game, then we need to change the way we do it.

We need learning in small, absorbable showers.

We need to allow our learners time to let their new knowledge sink in deep.

We need to think about ways to make the learning available when and where it's needed.

It is our job as learning professionals to guide and direct our learners and to give them what they need to grow.

Happy Learning.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Morning Quarterbacking or Why didn't he run the ball?

As an ex-pat Brit, I have to confess that when it comes to what the Americans call Football, much of the finer points of the game escape me.
Of course that doesn't stop me from going to Superbowl parties and watching the game.

Yesterday's game was certainly an exciting one.
And those, far more knowledgeable people around me were stunned by the decision of the coach to throw a slant rather than run the ball.
After all handing the ball to 'Beast Mode' Marshawn Lynch is what everyone (including no doubt the Patriots defenders) would have been expecting.
The throw to Ricardo Lockette, who was inches away from what would have been his 4th catch of the evening, was intercepted by Malcolm Butler and that sealed the Seahawks' fate

Everyone in the room thought that this was the wrong call. (as it would appear did almost everyone)
Now they did have the advantage of saying that after the play and after the interception. The fact that the interception was a great one crept into everyone's mind at that point  But not the fact that Malcolm Butler had not made an interception all year. The people in the room didn't know that.

After the game the coach explained his decision. It sounded complex to me, involving who he had on the field how much time was left on the clock and how many chances they would have had to try things and some other stuff. In the end he said he told his players "that was my fault totally."

People didn't really buy his explanation.

So what has this got to do with the world of the Learning Pro?

Had he done what everyone had expected him to do then he would have sent Beast Mode' running into 8 opposing players. A learning professional looks holistically at a performance need and should see if there are too many factors lining up to block success.

Instead he evaluated the situation, armed with ALL the information, and did what was not expected. If you have the fuller picture and it's pointing you in the direction of something different, then a learning professional should not be afraid to do the unexpected.

Had the play worked, people would have been calling it the best call of the night. If you get the results you are aiming for people will be prepared to respect your decision and your courage in making them.

Instead Monday Morning Quarterbacks are calling it the worst call in Superbowl History.  If you fail, take responsibility and know that many people will just see the failure, not the courage it took to try.

Happy Learning