Fail Safe: The Needed Paradigm Shift, Part 2

Discussing The Needed Paradigm Shift

The concept of "paradigm shift" was first proposed by the American philosopher, Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). A paradigm shift happens when important changes occur either from within an organization or from without which challenges the way that we have always done things.

When we think about the training culture within business organizations, we can see that this culture of "best practices" has been entrenched within the business culture for decades but we have to ask a very important question which is:

"Have we really critically and forensically evaluated whether or not this training culture has adapted and evolved in the light of the forces of change that have risen in the 21st century?"

The Present Status Of The Training Culture In Business Organizations

 In a recent article written by Bryant Nelson, the publisher and managing editor of Your Training Edge titled: "Changing Training Paradigms", makes the following point:

"The challenge faced by training providers is how to meet the requirements and learning expectations of learners while developing skill sets that are appropriate for the new face of the digital economy."

It is worthwhile to note that in the status-quo training culture, the goal was always to meet the needs of the organization whereas the learning needs of the learner were secondary. Given this shift, his recommendation to plan future budgets that are repurposed to focus on changing learner expectations is timely but is it really being done?

The second force impacting the training culture is the more sophisticated technologies that can be used to provide more effective learning. For example, it is not an effective approach to PowerPoint staffs with slide decks of bullet points in the 21st century. The reason is that people have already been exposed to these sophisticated technologies and actually apply them in informal learning. The fact that training regimens in some business organizations are not up to speed on this explains why learners claim that they learn more from their informal learning than they do from formal training sessions.

Bryant goes on to suggest that training paradigms are shifting to meet the learning requirements and expectations of learners by including such technological approaches as eLearning, interactive video, webinars, and MOOCs. However, this brings up another salient question:

"Are these new technologies being injected into dated training models that have their roots in the industrial age?"

If this is the case, then is it realistic to expect gains in performance indicators when in the mind of the learners, the disconnect between their connected lives outside the business organization is out of sync with how they are expected to learn and develop new skillsets within the business organization?

Leaders in the area of corporate learning have been forecasting the need for a complete paradigm shift in training for years. Michael Allen of Allen Training and Solutions predicted three important trends in a blog article titled: "Top 3 Training Trends and Tips" (2013). Not only does Ron Zamir, the CEO of Allen, reinforce the need for this paradigm shift but presents some statistics from Aberdeen Research in which it is stated that only 39% of business organizations were considering increasing their budgets to take into account this re-focusing on learning. Strangely, many training regimens do not understand the importance of enabling sustained engagement of learners within the business culture as a way of increasing performance and ultimately a reasonable increased ROI.

A key quote that answers this very point is the following:

"Business environment is the last key driver, and perhaps the most important one. 44% of professional service organizations now define metrics in advance, and 58% of them link employee engagement directly to profitability (Aberdeen Research)."

 Given the present status of training, the questions to ask are:

"What is the training culture shifting to, and how do we begin?"

Fail Safe And The New Paradigm

 In order to take a more proactive approach to corporate learning, the following are suggestions in order to get started:

  1. Changing The Mindset In Corporate Learning Also Includes A Change In Concepts
    The culture of training needs to change to emphasis on a culture of systemic learning as a driver for the business organization. This is the very shift that has put Google and Apple at the top of global business. They recognize that their greatest assets lie in systemic learning from the C-Suite to the entry-level positions. Another reason for changing the concept has to do with the accumulated "baggage" that is associated with training. Although training sessions involving compliance training are necessary, they should not define what learning within the organization is all about in the business organization. Try a test by asking employees at a staff meeting to raise their hand if they look forward to compliance training sessions.
  2. Re-Examine The Role Played By The CLO
    As the person directly responsible for the learning culture within the business organization, are they willing to direct this new paradigm shift? It will be their responsibility to communicate the new vision of learning within the organization. Will they critically evaluate onboarding approaches to make sure they align with the new paradigm shift? Will they help define the necessary budget adjustments so that they do meet the requirements and expectations of learners?
  3. Appointment Of A Learning Principles Officer
    The fact that the proposed paradigm shift to a learning culture is new to many organizations, a new staff position would be needed which involve the person in staying abreast of the changes happening in adult learning as indicated by new Cognitive Learning Research, tracking, individualizing and enriching the learning of staff within the organization, providing forums for the innovative ideas of staff and networking with leaders in the field of training and learning such as Clarke Quinn, Wil Thalheimer, Julie Dirkson and Michael Allen.
  4. Incorporation Of AI Into Learning
    One of the greatest assets that an organization has is the creative capacity and problem-solving ability of staff. The problem is that very often this asset is wasted through tasking individuals to tedious, time-consuming, repetitive tasks which could better be handled by an advanced AI algorithm. In freeing staff members from such tasks, they can be re-tasked to collaborative problem solving and innovation that would benefit the organization and enable staff to feel that they are stakeholders in an enterprise which values their contributions and can use their input in reality.
  5. Capitalize On The Informal Learning That Employees Involve Themselves In Outside The Business Organization
    One of the glowing statistics about learning in the 21st century is that people can use mobile devices and access what they want to learn 24/7 and from any location. It is worthwhile to provide staff access, especially in regards to collaboration opportunities, on the web to a company work area where ideas and even tutorials may be accessed. To promote this idea, it would be necessary to give added value to its use.

In conclusion, it is reasonable to suggest that in a swift-moving technological business world, planning in a proactive fashion means being in sync with what is happening in the globally connected world. Not to be proactive means that you become reactive to every change, and your organization continues to be the hamster in the hamster wheel where all that you accomplish is running to catch up. The failsafe should never be getting back on the hamster wheel.