Carrying forward

During my presentation in Minneapolis on future-looking applications of technology to learning, the usual and completely understandable question came up about how to change an organization to buy-in to this new way of acting in the world: to start focusing on performance outcomes and not courses.  I’m sensitive, because I have claimed that the change is needed.   So I riffed off a couple of answers that I’ll offer for discussion:

For one, the question was how to start. I suggested making small changes in what was being done now: push back a bit on the immediate request for a course, and start really diving into the real performance problem. Then, of course, designing a solution for the real problem. I also suggested starting to chunk content into finer granularity, and  focusing on the ‘least‘ that can be done.   I didn’t add, but should’ve, that bootstrapping some community would be good, and I’d also suggest that you have to be ‘in it to win it’ (as the lottery would have it). You have to keep experimenting yourself.

I added that you should simultaneously start some strategic planning.  That is, be looking at the larger picture of what can be done and where an organization should be, and then figure out what steps to take towards that in what order.  When I run my elearning strategy workshops or for clients, some folks might need to start working on performance support, others might best benefit from initial efforts in social, and some might better start on improving learning design.  And that’s all good, it’s what is right for them and where they’re at.  But you won’t get there if you don’t start planning.

One of the attendees started asking further, and was already doing some prototyping, which triggered another response from me.  Start prototyping different approaches. Web (including mobile web) is a really good way to follow on from choosing the early adopter to work with, finding an area where a small intervention can have a big impact, and get some initial measurable improvements to leverage.  Iterate quickly.

As a final suggestion, I added that there likely is a need to ‘manage up’, that is educate your bosses and up about the need for the change.   It’s really Org Change 101: you need to create a vision, get buy-in, spread the message (the benefits of change, as as Peter de Jager suggests, make it a choice), support and reward the change, get some early success, and leverage that going forward.

This seems like some sensible top-level approaches, but I welcome additions, revisions, improvements.

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