Friday, January 16, 2009

The Impact of Conditioning

Well I am back refreshed and ready to take on another year!

In personal news I have secured a new role here in Australia which combines Learning, Communication and Knowledge Management so I am extremely excited at the prospect of what this year will bring both professionally and personally.

I thought I would commence this years posts with something of an observation and something which is dear to most when producing learning for any organisation.

Just this week when consulting with a client about their learning needs I noticed that we seemed to be having the same old conversation which went something like:

"So you are sure this is a learning need and not something more deeply behavioural?"

"No, they just need assertiveness training and I am thinking it should be blended learning"

"What tells you this is a learning need?"

"They just let everyone walk over them and they need to stand up for what they believe is right"

"How does your senior manager feel about this training for the team?"

"He suggested it......."

What strikes me about this and many other situations that we find ourselves in, is that the perceived learning needs of most organisations seem to be, conditioned responses of their experiences over a lifetime of work. Now don't get me wrong, we are not talking classic Pavlov's dog, but more so that it is easier to conduct learning program's than it is to address the critical causes of performance problems.

Intuitively, I could say that 8 times out of 10 there is a learning need there. It is just not what the direct manager or other managers think is needed.

As a profession, corporate learning needs to look at the conditioned responses that happen in a wholesale way everyday. Lord knows the global hissy fit has caused a lot of traditional reactionary responses to various situations and the actual critical evaluation of situations has fallen by the wayside and the solutions have again become the stock standard responses.

My observation on this is that most of these responses are conditioned responses. In order for organisations to continue innovative cycles of advancement and at the same time respond to market pressures, they also need to ensure they exhaust the possibilities for learning and performance. This means they should embrace fields of practice such as Appreciative Inquiry. But that is another post and something else to ruminate on....

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