It's funny but there is a great debate on at the moment in terms of why organisations are again culling the L&D function in response to the recession/financial crisis/dumbass investment decisions etc.
This morning the CLC (Corporate Leadership Council) released the results of a survey that asked CEOs which areas were to suffer the most in response to the crisis. L&D came out on top at 38%. So this means, globally, that a third of organisations surveyed will stop investing in development of employees. Recruiting was second and IT infrastructure was third.
It would appear to me the way modern business is setup, it (modern business) becomes the greatest impediment to informal learning being adopted. The hierarchical post modern structures re-enforce organisational norms and protect those managers that feel they have "earned" the right to be there. This plays out in such a distributed "tentacle like fashion" that it is almost impossible without an, inspiring "risk taking" leader, to get things done. This is why formal learning still enjoys a "pride" of place more as a reward structure rather than anything beneficial to the career of the individual and the benefit of the organisation.
We need to shift the function of management and eliminate the organisational barrier! Here is my theory:
Currently: The managers primary focus and need is to make sure some work gets done. Whether that work is manufacturing widgets or crunching numbers or making sales—it’s the manager’s responsibility to mobilise the people and resources to get the assigned objectives accomplished.
Future: Can we shift the primary focus to: The manager needs to tend to the satisfaction and growth of every direct report, because employee satisfaction and growth have important bottom line benefits. Are they learning and growing and becoming more valuable to the organisation? If a manager isn’t adding value to the work of his/her people, or if the manager isn’t helping to increase the personal capability of his/her people, that manager is superfluous to the organisation.
My theory goes that if we can get this shift happening then informal learning and performance support gets the opportunity it deserves and we know that when the opportunity is afforded, then the recognition it needs to prove it's worth, is given.
It is about the value chain to begin with and we are too far down on it at the moment. We have ridden the LMS/ elearning/ Virtual Classroom wave but the trough, not the crest, is in place at the moment.
And lastly, organisational un-learning is poor to say the least so we continue to build on the learning and re-learning and do not eliminate from organisational memory, that which should be forgotten. We always evaluate that which is useful verses that which is not, and we always know what routines are no longer valid verses those that are being introduced. So why do we continue to allow these said routines and experiences to stay in place? This is where KM and Learning overlap and whilst we continue to focus on managing widgets instead of people we will always perpetuate that which is in motion and not that which should be forgotten.