By Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson
Change is hard, especially in the Learning & Development (L&D) Field! The irony of this revelation is that those of us in the L&D profession are supposed to be in the business of helping our learners navigate change! We want our learners to be flexible, dynamic, self-motivated learners. Yet, my experience is that we are often our own worst enemies at exhibiting these same characteristics. Con and I spend a lot of our professional life being invited into organizations by the L&D department to help them introduce and adopt new learning technologies and approaches, and when asked which stakeholders are often the most resistant to these changes, it’s the L&D team itself that tops our list.
This is a problem since, in my opinion, we’re facing one of our toughest internal transformation challenges we’ve ever encountered - moving from a training deliverable focus to a workflow embedded/performance focus. According to the recent 2018 Annual L&D Bench marking Report from Toward Maturity, we’re sailing into a “perfect storm” of both desire and skills when It comes to enabling this transformation. The reports shares that 98% of top organizations name “Improving Organizational Performance” as a top priority, with the L&D department following suit at 93% listing “Integrating learning into the workflow” as one of its priorities. All good right? Not exactly. The issue is that there is a large variance between the desire and the ability to deliver with “supporting workplace learning” listed as one of L&D’s weakest skills! How do we manage this mismatch? Its starts with a few fundamental changes.
I’m going to be a bit general with my first recommendation, but we have to first realize, and accept, the need for a fundamental and significant change in the first place. As I mentioned earlier, we're often invited in by the L&D department, but when change needs to occur they are the one who puts up the greatest fight. What we've learned is that many don’t truly want to change. What they want is a validation that, with minor tweaking of a few operational processes, their current instructional methodologies, and existing learning technologies they can have their cake and eat it to. Workflow based deliverables aren’t training deliverables. It’s that simple! You will include or embed a degree of training in there somewhere, but training isn’t the focus. It’s part of the supporting cast, it’s not the lead actor. The sooner we realize that the sooner we’ll begin to turn our thinking, analysis and efforts to focusing on creating workflow deliverables in the first place, and not just massage older efforts in a new way. The change starts from within and it starts with our willingness to change in the first place.
The second thing I see creating this disparity is our constantly defending old and outdated models. Ok, deep breath, here it goes – Let’s look at approaches such as ADDIE, examine where they came from, and exactly what they’re good at creating. I can feel the irate comments coming!! ;) Now I hope you’ve read enough of our blogs and know us well enough to stay with me on this one. I’m NOT blasting ADDIE or saying that it doesn’t have its place. What I am saying is that a methodology designed to meet a learning need from over 40 years ago probably targets a different time for our learners and the organizations we support. The deliverables, primarily training, are not the deliverables of workflow learning. A new focus and methodology needs to be examined and adopted, and the good news is that many are emerging and being used right now such as our own 5 Moments of Need approach. Many organizations, large and small, are becoming "5 Moment of Need" design departments. The challenging reality though is that studies out organizations like ATD on the use of various ID approaches find that a large majority of us still use ADDIE as the primary approach to our design work, while newer approaches such as SAM (Successive Approximation Model) and the 5 Moments, just to name a few, still sits at a much smaller percentage. We need to own the fact that this brave new world won’t appear without the adoption of newer approaches on our part.
Finally, it’s tough to beat Dustin Johnson (DJ), the current #1 golfer in the world, or at least he was when this blog was written, with wooden shafted clubs. When it comes to performing at the optimal level, equipment matters. That applies to the equipment and tools we use as well. If you want to lead with workflow deliverables, we need to design first and foremost with equipment and tools that enable and create workflow learning deliverables. There is a whole host of incredible new authoring tools emerging that help create workflow learning. Now you’ll notice I put tools last! Back to my golfer metaphor, I’m not going to beat DJ, with even the best clubs out there, because I don’t have the golfing skills to do it. In other words, my 2nd point above trumps tools!
Workflow learning IS transformational right now and will change the L&D landscape forever. It’s here and growing. The questions are will we change, do we know how to make the instructional change, and are we adopting the tools to enable it?
More resources on The 5 Moments of Need.