Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Tools = Autonomy

Jane Hart is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world's most visited learning sites on the Web. 2010 Best in Breed: tools and websites by Jane Hart.

Emerging Trends according to Jane:
  • The increasing consumerization of IT
  • Learning, working and personal tools are merging
  • Social tools predominate
  • Personal (informal) learning is under the individual’s control

Advice for workplaces:

  1. Encourage and support individuals’ and teams’ self-sufficiency to address their own learning and performance problems.
    This does mean relinquishing control and trusting people to address their own learning needs in order to do their jobs. But autonomy is a powerful motivator, as Dan Pink has pointed out in his latest book,
    Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us:
    “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement … A sense of autonomy has a powerful effect on individual performance and attitude. According to a cluster of recent behavioural studies, autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understand, better grades, enhanced persistence at school and in sporting activities, higher productivity, less burnout and greater levels of psychological well-being."
    Self-sufficiency (or self-directedness) will become an important factor for organisational competitiveness, as an article in CLO magazine, 
    Agile Learning, Thriving in the New Economy, states:

    "As competitive environments increase in speed, complexity and volatility, organizations and individuals are compelled toward a dynamic learning mindset. Dynamic learning is defined as rapid, adaptive, collaborative and self-directed learning at the moment of need."
    The role of L&D will therefore be more to encourage autonomy and self-sufficiency, rather than to control and monitor learning activity.
  2. Help develop autonomous workers

    Although it is clear that many people are naturally autonomous, self-directed learners/workers who are already making good use of social media tools, it is true that others will need help to become independent and competent enough to address their own business and performance problems. L&D will have a big part to play in helping some workers acquire a new set of literacies, in order to make responsible, safe and effective use of the new social tools.
  3. Provide performance consulting services, where individuals and teams need help in addressing their own learning and performance problems
    Performance consulting is very different from training consulting. Rather than applying the traditional approach of developing training to address the symptoms of a problem, it involves getting to the root of a problem and working with the individuals concerned to devise and implement an appropriate solution. As Harold Jarche has written in his blog posting, 
    Compliance of an industry:

    “Only when there is a genuine lack of skills and knowledge, is training required [repeat as necessary]. Training should only be done in cases where the other barriers to performance have been addressed. A trained worker, without the right resources and with unclear expectations, will still not perform up to the desired standard."
    Hence problems which might due to be a lack of communication in a team, inadequate resources or even an issue with the work process itself, could be addressed in very different non-training ways, e.g. by communities of practice, new collaborative approaches to working, etc.
  4. Rethink the use of learning tools and system
    Although traditional “command and control” learning systems will still have a place to track and monitor learning in formal courses, particularly compliance and regulatory training, they won’t be appropriate for social (workflow) learning, here learning needs to be integrated into the workflow and not vice versa.

    Some organisations may undoubtedly wish to implement their own, behind the firewall, social platforms to power enterprise communities and collaborative practices in a private and secure way, but these should not be the only tools available to workers. Many individuals will still need to have access to the Social Web, e.g. for connecting with others outside the organisation, and some may wish to use their own tools. Despite the concern that some organisations have about consumer tools, a recent GigaOm article, 
    Are “Consumer” Collaboration Tools Good Enough for the Enterprise?, stated that many are becoming more enterprise-friendly, but furthermore ...

    "businesses cannot ignore the benefits such tools undoubtedly bring to the workplace, and trying to block their use will likely be a futile exercise that will only lead to disgruntled employees"
  5. Help to develop an open, enabling culture for working and learning
    All the above is clearly part of a bigger picture, which implies the need for a wider change in terms of management style. Michael Lascette, in a posting, 
    The Social Employee Manifesto writes:

    “Old approaches to managing employees, with their roots in the industrial society are not adequate for hyper-connected, socially aware employees. We need a new paradigm for getting things done and for empowering a new breed of employee that does not function well in a hierarchal, top down, highly controlled environment."

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