Bob Mosher is a senior partner, and Chief Learning Evangelist at The 5 Moments of Need™ — an organisation that specialises in helping learning professionals design, develop, and measure effective learning and performance support through the 5 Moments design methodology. He has been an active and influential leader in the learning and training industry for over thirty years and is renowned worldwide for his pioneering role in new approaches to learning.

Earlier this month, Bob was joined by David James, who is CLO at Looop and former Director of Talent, Learning & OD for The Walt Disney Company’s EMEA region, to discuss the need for change, and why now, more than ever, it’s important for L&D leaders to be better at it.

Listen to their conversation here or read on for the highlights.

L&D Is A Conservative Industry (That’s Averse To Change)

The workplace has been greatly disrupted by digital for many years now, yet the L&D industry still seems to be averse to change even though it’s supposed to be in the ‘change business’.

Often, L&D seems to get lost in ‘measuring’. It’s so busy focusing on running programmes and organising training that it often interprets the wrong things as making a difference. Things like measuring how many employees attend a classroom session, or how many people rate a session 10/10 works on the day they’re doing the training — but it doesn’t go beyond that. And when the training session has ended nothing has changed because all attention was spent on running and facilitating the programmes (and no progressive changes were actually made).

That said, it’s not the inability to change that is holding L&D back. It’s the lack of leadership. There’s no clear vision as to what L&D can and should be doing, and that’s why L&D’s impact on organisations and its people is often confused with being all about attendance and completion rates. What it should be about is guiding and supporting people to do the right things at the right times, as they transition into and through an organisation. When we focus on this, we look at helping employees to achieve their desired goals and results, and raise the benchmark on what successful performance looks like throughout the organisation.

To summarise, L&D often looks too far into what it can do rather than what it should do — and what it ‘should do’ starts with vision and leadership.

How Can L&D Modernise?

When we take people away from work to learn new skills, we have them practise something for a later date. This isn’t going to impact performance. Regardless of how much an employee has practised, when the time comes and they need to use those skills, they’re not going to remember an hour long session that happened months ago. We need to bring the work closer to the solution if we expect to see results. This isn’t a myth or fictitious solution that has come out of nowhere. Google has proved that this is the preferred way of finding answers for over a decade now. And we all do this too — when we’re in the flow of work and have a question or problem, we use our devices to go to YouTube or Google to grab what we need so we can apply it immediately. L&D still hasn’t learned from this. 

Learning used to be the most appropriate way of helping to aid performance — you would bring people together, prepare them, and they would retain all of that new knowledge and use it. That might have been the case because work was more manual or repetitive in the past — but in this day and age, things have changed. Skillsets are evolving, and employees expect their training to support them in achieving their goals.

We’ve Confused Corporate L&D With Education. They’re Different.

In the world of work, it’s not about what you know or learn, it’s about what you do. So we need to refocus our efforts from developing learning, designing and delivering learning content by: 

  • Understanding what our employees want to know rather than what L&D wants them to know.
  • Being contextually relevant at the point-of-need rather than focusing on curriculum or content.
  • Looking for ways to help employees do what they want to do better in order to remove friction, increase capability, and work towards actually solving real problems.

When we start focusing on the day-to-day we bring work much closer to the solution. It’s at the point of doing that we work our way back and recognise what work is really about; doing our jobs better and faster and enhancing everyday performance.

Technology As A Means Of Support — Not The Whole Solution

We’ve seen learning technology as the answer to all of our prayers for too long. The LMS market is full of feature-packed systems that L&D leaders think will immediately solve all of their problems and deliver results. 

We need to start using technology as a means of support, rather than seeing it as the whole solution.

Use An Agile Approach To Solve Problems & Impact Performance 

By uncovering existing problems in the organisation and understanding what people are trying to do — and what’s getting in the way — you can roadmap with your people what an ideal solution would look like. You can then draw up a minimum viable product/solution (MVP) and use the tools and techniques of a project manager to map this out. By thinking agile you build a prototype and test to see how it affects performance. 

When you see something that works you can then look for smart technology to find ways to remove the human element and automate the process. It’s a wasted effort trying to automate before you know if a solution can solve real business problems. And too often in L&D, this is where we go wrong, because we look to solve our own problems with technology rather than the problems of our employees. Our employees don’t need to know how to get classroom training or generic courses onto their desktop. They need to know how to access useful content that’s going to help them perform better in their role. So for technology to really affect performance and minimise friction, it needs to offer value for the end user. 

Listen to the podcast here.

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