The Uberization Of Workplace Learning

The Uberization Of Workplace Learning
Summary: We’ve never truly recognized it, but our lives have been drastically rewired by the cloud. Businesses such as Uber, Spotify, and Airbnb, for example, have cut out the ‘middleman’ when it comes to booking transport, listening to music and finding holiday accommodation.

How Times Have Changed...

The Democracy Of Things

As the cloud removes all of the inefficiencies that are inherent in analog, such as removing the need for taxi queues, traditional agents can be 'disintermediated'. You only have to recall the Parisian protests against Uber, back in 2016, to recognize the potentially disruptive force the cloud can have.

As this process of digital disintermediation continues to gain momentum in domestic and social settings, we need to ask ourselves how such technologies are impacting the world of work.

eBook Release: Maximising Microlearning: An Overview Of Short Form Learning In The Corporate Sector
eBook Release
Maximising Microlearning: An Overview Of Short Form Learning In The Corporate Sector
Discover the realities and benefits of microlearning in the modern workplace and how it can be applied.

From Augmented Reality to big data, there's no doubt that learning solution providers have embraced new technologies as a means of delivering learning—we're increasingly surrounded by new and improved, digital modes of engaging with the end-user. However, we also need to reassess the role of the L&D professional in an age where 'Google search' has enabled a democratization of information; free and frictionless access to a wide variety of learning objects.

What can L&D professionals do to maintain a pivotal role in this revolution?

A Personalized, Retail Approach To Learning

In the days before an individual's ability to self-diagnose learning gaps and self-medicate on solutions became so easy, the L&D professional had the role of 'broker'—mediating between the learner and blocks of skills/knowledge.

In the digital age, with the proliferation of free knowledge, how can L&D continue to create value?

Learners should not be greedy with content, instead, they must learn how to identify and acknowledge the value of content. If we consider both Barry Schwartz's Paradox of Choice [1], and Iyengar and Lepper's jam experiment [2], context is key and less is more, and too much choice is demotivating.

By becoming Sherpas of knowledge, L&D professionals need to demonstrate to colleagues the relevance of the content they're consuming—how it's core to their job, not distinct from it. The passive consumption of information can only move to active knowledge retention if learners have a reason to use it, and know-how to apply it.

In this respect, L&D has much to gain from retailing principles, products need to be thoughtfully packaged and actively sold to consumers. Today's learners, such as shoppers, are increasingly motivated by impulses and triggers, and for this reason, we need to 'season' their work-life with learning, in order to get them unconsciously 'hooked'. If the material cannot be accessed and consumed within 5 minutes, you may have lost your 'customer'.

This is where L&D professionals can benefit from interaction with technology. Digital modes of learning are unrivaled in terms of scalability, agility, and adaptability.

Knowledge As A Service

Accenture has a useful infographic that outlines the process of making something 'as a service'. It has some interesting implications if we consider setting out knowledge/skills 'as a service'. By this, we mean the learning objects, rather than the L&D function—which has always conceived itself as a service or business partner [3].

Here is what we believe we can borrow from the world of Uber to become a learning disruptor, by using a few of the points from Accenture's Infographic.

We Believe—The Learning That We Offer Needs To Be

  1. Intelligent
    The use of data analytics will allow us to better sell in learning rather than merely track usage. Imagine a content delivery strategy that adapts to the circadian rhythms of your colleagues!
  2. Agile
    Speed of access and consumption are key here—think Amazon 'one-click' purchase. We know that when a user has a need for learning materials—(e.g. supporting content to help deal with an internal conflict)—we have a 5-minute 'window' from trigger to fulfillment.
  3. Scalable and plug-in (able), but remain personalized
    Your system needs to be able to aggregate learning objects from a variety of courses into an easy dashboard—think 'Slack' for learning. But areas for interaction need to be personalized enough to make individual input meaningful.
  4. Rapid response
    How fast can you create a digital companion to an event/session/project? 72 hours anybody?
  5. Cost-efficient
    Ask yourself the following when assessing any learning intervention—how will this help us make or save money?

Finally, Some Questions For Your Consideration

What if …

  • Apple re-designed your learning portal?
  • Dunnhumby (Tesco Clubcard) managed the data you gather?
  • Richard Branson met with your Instructional Designers?
  • Mumsnet re-organized your learning communities?
  • Dragon's Den evaluated your investment in learning?
  • Save the Children looked at your ability to respond/adapt to events?

How To Embrace The Change?

The modern world is being defined by the rapid speed of change.

The modern world is rapidly changing; this is an undeniable and uncontroversial statement. It is simply a noticeable and observed phenomenon. As this article has pointed out, the cloud has revolutionized the world, democratized information, and redefined what it means to be a learner. In the midst of all this change, it can be easy to wonder how you can possibly keep up, adapt, change, and stay relevant. Workplaces are not the same as they used to be, making it a necessity for learning to change as well.

The true test with microlearning comes with its delivery. Ensuring that all the elements that have been discussed here, are properly implemented into a simple but effective bundle, something which is going to grab employees' attention and turn them into active and engaged learners. The delivery of the perfect microlearning package doesn't have to be a daunting challenge fraught with difficulties. The full details of successfully delivering a microlearning package can be found in Skill Pill's eBook Maximising Microlearning: An Overview of Short-Form learning in the Corporate Sector, which contains all the information needed to enter into the world of microlearning.


[1] Barry Schwartz's Paradox of Choice

[2] Iyengar and Lepper's jam experiment

[3] The New World of As-a-Service