Forget about ‘Training’

I was reading a book called ‘Action Reflection Learning’ (ARL).   It contains a lot of stories on how to make learning happened without using the traditional learning intervention i.e. training.

The underlying rationale of ARL is that people learn through various means.   My reflection – as I look at the capabilities I currently possess, very few of them were acquired purely from training classes I attended before.   To me, I learnt quite a lot by simply doing and observing others.   (See my previous post on the 70/20/10 principle.   Note that readers of this blog have commented quite a lot on that post.   It seems that though the principle is intuitively correct, it is not backed by research.)

What makes ARL more interesting is that the ARL projects are run more like business development projects (BD) rather than standalone learning initiatives.    Get the participants to do things under the real BD works (e.g. to derive how to maximize value after a cross border merger).   Then design processes (e.g. reflection log on cross cultural leadership) within the BD works so that learning can be ‘distilled’ from the projects.

A beauty is that the whole things can get buy-in more easily from the management.  Results of the real works can better be evaluated as compared to a series of training class.   There could be cost saving, revenue pipeline, attrition rate, etc.

Weird thoughts come to my mind.  Perhaps we should forget about having learning / training departments reporting to HR departments in a company.    Learning initiatives should not be launched as standalone projects / classes.   Instead, park the learning resources under the BD / strategy function.    Learning priorities are factored in the corporate strategies.   BD projects are designed in a way so that these learning priorities can be met as well.

How possible could it be?   Which companies are doing this already?

2 Replies to “Forget about ‘Training’”

  1. Great thinking David – thanks for sharing.

    Learning priorities ought to be strongly anchored to business strategies and in a way that is closely relevant to the needs of business leaders at the coalface. That way, skill enhancement can be an explicit part of growing the business. L&D professionals could help leaders provide an environment that explicitly supports learners as they experiment with developing and applying their skills in “live” settings.

    Neuroscience supports the claim that it is the “doing” that cements the learning. If we can shift new learning from our prefrontal cortex to our basal ganglia then it becomes an embodied way of being or a hardwired behaviour. The classic example is driving a car: only through practice do we become proficient. Perhaps we need to get more corporate learning out of the classroom and do more of it behind the wheel.

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