Monday, June 6, 2011

What's the "High Concept, High Touch" Solution for Organizational Learning Today?

June's Big Question over at LCB asks how WLP professionals might break down organizational walls to learning. I recently read Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, and one of the central themes of the book is that we are in an age where we have to think more conceptually, and less analytically, partly because the tools to free our minds from rote work are readily available. I want to borrow that theme in my answer to the BQ.

From my perspective, one of the most impactful ways for WLP professionals to break down organizational walls to learning is to think about the 'big picture' of learning within their organization, or the wider organization in general. Ask questions:
  • What is the organization trying to achieve in near and long term scenarios?
  • What is happening with learning in the organization, right now?
  • What isn't happening with learning in the organization, right now?
  • What may be maintaining the 'walls'?
  • What level of shift is needed?
  • How feasible is that shift if it were begun today?
In short, what WLP professionals need to have is vision. Not vision statements, but what the concept of the high-performing, high-learning organization in their respective settings looks like. This "high concept" will be "high touch", meaning its maintenance will be a very active process. The tools will be myriad and the networking will need to be diverse and, well, interconnected. To use another analogy, WLP professionals will have to seek and create new relationships (Harold Jarche's response is one specific way), and curate them over time and other pockets of leadership and skills evolve.

What I'm describing isn't big on specifics, but no two organizations are alike, and to twist a cliche, all learning is local. The point is that WLP professionals more than ever have the ability to couple the best our industry has to offer with the pulse of the organizations, and then facilitate the best possible solution (with a solid change management plan).

Easier said than done?

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