What if your organization got rid of the Learning & Development function? What would the average manager or department head do? What would workers do?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while. When work is learning, and learning is the work, training that is pushed from outside has less relevance. The L&D department is supposed to ensure that training is appropriate for the job, but with jobs constantly morphing into something else, a major disconnect is developing between the doers and the trainers. How many people take courses that are not relevant to their current work or are provided at the wrong time?
Let me propose some things managers and knowledge workers can do without a Learning & Development department.
Observe how people are learning to do their work already. Find these natural pathways and reinforce them.
Connect any “how-to” learning to the actual task. Show and tell only works if it can be put into practice. The forgetting curve is steep when there is no practice.
Make it everyone’s job to share what they learn. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find “how-to” videos and explanations on the Web? That’s because someone has taken the time to post them. Everyone in the organization should do this, whether it’s a short text, a photo, a post, an article, a presentation with notes, or a full-blown video.
Make space to talk about things and capture what is passed on. Get these conversations in the open where they can be shared. Provide time and space for reflection and reading. There is more knowledge outside any organization than inside.
Break down barriers. Establish transparency as the default mode, so that anyone can know what others are doing. Unblock communication bottlenecks, like supervisors who control information flow. If supervisors can’t handle an open environment, get rid of them, because they are impeding organizational learning and it’s now mission critical.
If you do have an L&D department, share what you are doing and perhaps they will help you become more self-sufficient for your organizational learning. If they don’t, ignore them, as they will be going away anyway.