Technology and Workplace Learning
Nigel Paine, author of The Learning Challenge, talks about the rapid pace of technological development and its impact on workplace learning.
1. What have been the main drivers for the rapid change in workplace learning?
The rapid changes in workplace learning relate directly to the rapid changes in work and business. The increasing pace of change, increasing volatility and the pressures of globalization have led to more changes in the way we work in the last 10 years, than in the preceding 50. Learning has to adapt and adopt new practices and new alignments with the demands of work if it is to stay relevant.
So the main drivers the changing workplace learning include:
- The rapid advance of technologies, particularly relating to personal devices such as smartphones and tablets which are perfectly suited to learning at the pace and place an individual chooses.
- The rise of social networks that allow rapid exchange of knowledge and building virtual communities of practice.
- The need for increased velocity, increased customisation and personalisation and increased flexibility of delivery and deployment.
- The need for new capabilities in the workplace such as flexibility, curiosity, innovation and role spanning.
- The demand for different leadership competencies to encourage a more facilitative and enabling approach and to develop leaders as both learners and teachers.
2. What motivated you to write this book?
I have three main motivations for writing this book. The first was an overwhelming sense that many people working in learning leadership in organizations large and small, had very little out there which could guide them through the myriad changes are happening all around them. The aim of this book was to be their companion guide through some of these changes.
Secondly, I wanted to celebrate some of the fantastic achievements in learning. There are many people doing a stunning, innovative and mould breaking job out there and I wanted to celebrate their achievements and promote them in a way that others could learn from.
Finally, I wanted to create a reference book that people could dip into when they wanted to learn more about instructional design, or impact measurement or the neuroscience of learning. These are areas that don't impact constantly but when they do, the individual needs a clear overview and a way of getting asense of direction. The book's aim was to do this.
3. What are the skills and behaviours required by a successful learning leader in 2015?
Skills and behaviours required by the successful learning leader in 2015 are very different from those of the learning leader in, say, 2000. The biggest shift is away from focusing on catalogues or programmes of learning events and managing those successfully to being able to build and sustain a learning environment which encourages people to learn in many different ways. This requires a more enabling and facilitative approach to the role rather than an approach that focusses on control and the delivery of a specific programme of content.
The 2015 learning leader has to get close to the business and understand what drives the organization that employs them, regardless of whether that is a company, a charity, health service provider or local government. To not have a profound understanding of the drivers of the organization is now a serious caree-inhibiting deficit.
The role is no longer one which allows you to get on with your job quietly, regardless of what is going on in the business. The new learning leader has to be able to argue his or her case with the senior executives, make a contribution to delivering the overall business strategy and be seen as a critical component of any employers’ people proposition.
The learning leader is also an integral part of the talent management setup. In other words, this role is no longer set apart from the broader concerns of performance management, talent acquisition, retention, succession planning and career development. The learning leader has to be deeply involved in all of these areas.
4. What are the main challenges faced by L&D practitioners today?
L &D practitioners face five core challenges. The first is building a technology strategy that works for L&D, but aligns with the broader organizational technology strategy. Technology is changing rapidly and the L&D practitioner has to be across both the large shifts in technology capability, as well as the development of small apps. This is both future facing and practical day-to-day work.
The second is to be able to clearly measure the impact of what they do. If a certain amount of money is invested in L&D, the organization has a right to ask what they get for their money. And the entire L&D team needs to know what works best on what works less well.
Third, is understanding and getting more value from the social learning environments in the workplace.
The fourth is to be able to piggyback on other initiatives, technologies and developments within the organization and exploit those for learning. This requires understanding and negotiation at the highest level.
The final area is to be able to take a commanding role with senior executives and show both credibility and competence. The L&D practitioner needs to be able to, not just argue for learning, but frame business issues and business challenges from a learning perspective and to be able to take responsibility to deliver on this.
5. How does this book help to address these?
The book, fortunately, has chapters on all these areas. I have interviewed six successful chief learning officers from around the world and looked at what they do that is special so that others can learn from their expertise. I've also interviewed experts in each of the topics that I write about in the book, so there is a combination of research and theory combined with practice. This makes the book rich and practical.
6. Tell us about your website and the additional materials available there
The book has its own website which is attached to my own website (www.nigelpaine.com). Each chapter has a section of the website which includes other readings and blog posts that are directly relevant as well as space for readers to upload their own suggestions of good materials that others should know about. In time it will have additional case studies, and additional interviews, so that it becomes a living resource to complement the book and extend its reach and relevance.
Save 20% on the RRP of £29.99 when you order The Learning Challenge before 30 November 2015. Enter LEARN20T when prompted at the checkout.