L&D as the knowledge transport organization

More and more I hear within my organization that the old fashioned ways of closing the knowledge gap can not keep up with the speed of the learning curve of the organization. Employees do not have time to structurize knowledge, to transfer knowledge and to receive knowledge. 

I see L&D as being the transport organization for knowledge within the company as well as to its outside world. L&D  builds and maintains the infrastructure and defines and deploys knowledge transport vehicles to make the transport as efficient and effective as possible. This can be from good old teachers in the class up to Artificial Intelligence and Crowd innovation. Teaching just being one of many ways of knowledge transport.

My main concern as Corporate Learning Architect is that my installed vehicles and infrastructure are not fast enough to keep pace with mentioned learning curve. The fuel used to run the vehicles is time from employees. Expensive and always short in supply. 

Looking at above, L&D needs to reorganize and (re-) define job roles to survive as 21st century knowledge transport organization.

Drivers are needed able to drive one ore more types of innovative vehicles. We need people who take care of the infrastructure, e.g. IT platforms next to classrooms. We need analysts to measure effectiveness and efficiency of the infrastructure and its vehicles. 

Next to this, we need to teach employees being drivers themselves and how to make use of the transport system. For this we need a.o. navigation systems.

So within your company, what is the condition of your roads and railways, your harbors, your cars, ships and planes, the satellites and its drivers? 

But the main question, how satisfied are your customers?


Beware of the coyote effect


This picture to me is a nice metaphor of how business looks at L&D. My advice: do not hunt business but seek collaboration and use each other’s strengths to maximize learning. Sit together with business at the dinner table. Not being a support team who waits to be called upon at the decision of business.

It is about optimizing time to competency of the employee, and there is more to it than developing talent- and other learning programs. It is about connecting those who need with those who know and therefore certainly not chasing behind the (business) problem, but being ahead of the business.

What inspired me to write this blog: https://lnkd.in/eCFrax6

Learnalytics – a business tool or L&D tool?

At my department we have started a proof of concept on Learnalytics together with a company able to do big data analysis and a department who requested a training. As starting point I asked the question: “Are we able to measure the impact of a learning intervention, by connecting and measuring the correlation of learning data and business data?”. Can a correlation be found on enterprise KPI’s between a group of untrained people doing the same tasks as trained people?

The  foundation of the experiment was the Kirkpatrick taxonomy of evaluation. As a professional L&D department we analyze a training request using the 8-field instrument of prof. J. Kessels. Which means that we (try to) define the kpi’s of each level to be able to give answer to the question “when are we satisfied?” As pilot team we were interested in measuring the change in business KPI’s at level 3 and 4. These are hard to measure as a lot of other parameters influence the chosen kpi’s. 

As proof of concept we used a CBT made together with the business department. We started to set up the learnalytics tool. We connected enterprise databases, HR data of employees (years of experience, educational level) and LMS data (trained or not and when trained). 

Did we find the answer to the question (did training contribute on level 3 and 4)? Not yet. Not because we did not see correlation, but training was not the only contributor. But it gave the business department interesting insights.

This made me think:

  1.  L&D supports the learning of employees but is not the owner of the KPI targets.  Is it L&D who needs to prove impact of a learning intervention? As the 8-field instrument states: the lower 4 fields are expertise of L&D and the top 4 of the business. This would mean L&D only needs to proof training was useful on level 1 and 2. It is up to the business, to proof the impact of learning on level 3 and 4. Of course with L&D and the Business facilitating each other. 
  2. Who should be the owner of a learnalytics system (who is the actual DMU when a learnalytics tool is acquired)?
  3. What if L&D uses learnalytics at the start of analyzing a learning request? Can the learnalytics tool be used to help getiing insights upfront? Can it be used to help finding the answer to: “will training contribute to the goal” upfront?
  4. By using a learnalytics tool, does this help in quantative figures to proof “the existence of being” of our L&D? Or are other factors still more contributing?

For me this proof of concept learns at least 2 things:

  1. Being involved early in projects as L&D helps influencing product and process designs by asking: “How do we get the subject sustainable into the brains of our target group?”.
  2. L&D and the business lines have to work as partners to meet the business goals. See also my blog earlier.

L&D as partner to the business groups

The more I read conversations about my profession on blogs, LinkedIn and the like, the more I notice that only the L&D people react to subjects like f.i. 70:20:10. We as L&D people argue text of our L&D colleagues and start talking within a safe environment about our target groups what is best for them without involvement of this targetgroup.

Learning programs should be internally and externally consistent. I mean the triangle of business groups, learners and educational experts should agree with each other about the best way to get the “message” across. Too often I see we are not really listening to each other or take the time to understand each other. We as L&D people should be able to explain the world of learning in such a way, our business groups understand us. Without pushing what we think is right. As bringing the message across is the core of our profession, why not use this to bring business and L&D closer together?

We L&D people have knowledge on how to best get the message across, and the SME’s know why, what and when about this message. By going along together as a team, in stead of being silo’s, amazing results happen.
Simple: if I as a learning architect have 100% free play, the result would be 1 on 1 mentoring and coaching for every employee. Educational a good solution, business wise and practically not feasible.
If the business had free play (and they often do), then as short as possible learning interventions will be the result (mostly a short formal one time classroom lecture). Time is money and being out of the daily work flow is equal to not being productive. This gives the opposite point of view . From an education pepectivee not really effective, businesswise a good solution. The answer lies, as always, in between.

My experience is talking with the SME’s and really make effort and time in understanding each other, brings change in the way the SME’s think of learning. Less classroom developments, more performance support (like exploring 70:20:10). And most of the time with hardly any extra budget.  This because the 20 and 70 is most of the time already existent but need to be recognized as learning. The business and L&D in projects now fully acknowledge each others strengths and become a team. As a result my team is increasingly involved earlier in projects, where I, as a learning architect, am able to influence how knowledge is structurized and transfered.

My experience also is that when business and L&D are partners to the same organizational goal, L&D will soon not have the capacity to handle all requests as business sees the advantage of having L&D on board.

So let’s start talking with each other and increase the business impact together!

Kan een bedrijf zonder hiërarchische structuren bestaan?

Mijn broer maakte me attent op een artikel in de Volkskrant over management in Europa en Japan. Het werd beeldend gebracht door te vergelijken met een roei wedstrijd waar de verliezende boot meer management heeft dan roeiers. Dat doet mij denken aan een onderwerp wat me al een tijdje bezig houd:
Het einde van hiërarchische structuren Is volgens mij in zicht.

Management lagen zijn ouderwets. Ze zijn ontstaan tijdens de industrialisatie begin 20e eeuw om informatie van de vloer naar directie te krijgen en vv.
Nu zijn we beland in een kennis economie waar de flow van kennis veel en snel is en waar kennis heel snel verouderd is. Daarnaast veranderd de wereld constant om ons heen en moeten we als werknemers, maar ook als bedrijf flexibel genoeg zijn om mee te bewegen.
Een hiërarchische “harkstructuur” past daar niet meer bij. Een netwerkstructuur lijkt het antwoord. Maar een aantal bedrijfsprocessen zullen moeilijk aan te passen zijn. Het antwoord zal dus een mengvorm zijn. Zo min mogelijk gelaagdheid, staf functies die toezicht houden maar zoveel mogelijk autonomie geven aan zelfsturende teams.
En dat een netwerkstructuur werkt bewijst dit artikel:http://www.inc.com/chuck-blakeman/companies-without-managers-do-better-by-every-metric.html
Kijk ook eens op de site van Valve, vooral het instructie boekje voor on-boardings is een goed voorbeeld.

Maar ook de herstructurering van de Buurtzorg is een goed voorbeeld. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiaUDHg2o5I

Mijn vraag is nu: hoe beïnvloed deze verandering de kijk op bedrijfs leren en dus het bestaan van een L&D afdeling?

Securing Knowledge Flow

As part of the learning centre of the company I am working, I think a great deal about why our department exists. What do we contribute, or what is the value proposition of our learning centre. We already agreed upon the mission satement

“To optimize time to competency of the employees”

But then the question will be how? How does a learning centre contribute to it’s mission. I think the answer should be:

“The learning centre secures the knowledge flow within her organization”

It made me think about in what ways our department can facilitate the flow of knowledge and skills. I tried to put it in the picture below.

knowledge flow

As knowledge is either:

  • In the head of one person (tacid knowledge)
  • Known within a group
    (tacid knowledge within a group, f.i. way of works)
  • Or explicit on some sort of medium (f.i. website, wiki, e-learning, pdf)

Looking at securing the knowledge flow, this means that knowledge can flow f.i. form one person to a group of persons (typical example would be classroom training or lecturing).

This would mean that the added value of a L&D department should be: having answers on every crossing in the picture. This pops up questions like:

  • How can we facilitate knowledge flow between groups?
  • Where can we place social learning?
  • Where modern workplace learning?
  • What kind of solutions can you think of if the flow is from eplicit knowledge towards explicit knowledge? Is this auto-generating knowledge? Is this or will it be possible?

So I will try to fill the matrix in a next post, but I like to split it into three versions:

  1. What is the definition of each cell?
  2. What is needed to accomodate the flow?
  3. Which (IT) tools can you think of to facilitate?

Lot’s of thoughts. Next Post more.