Thought provoking, Craig! (http://bit.ly/pKyiNS) How does the alcoholic, trauma victim, redundant employee or drug addict begin to get help? The answer always given is "When they get to their point of need" - and that it is pointless trying to force someone to that help before they realise their need for it. But it has to be both available and accessible when that unpredictable moment is reached.
So what's the parallel and how does it apply to us in L&D? Assuming we believe in the "point of need" and "just in time" pillars of the "learning is work and work is learning" collaborative model - our role in L&D is twofold. The first is to help the people we are supporting with the mindset adjustment to a point of saying "It's OK to ask for help". The second is our own adjustment to a position where we are able to provide resources (contacts, information, even courses!) to respond to the need once it is realised.
"It's OK to ask for help" is about an ecology in the workplace where, to quote from Dr Terry Moss, a line manager with an incredible record in empowerment of people, "There is no crime in failing so long as you have asked for help along the way. There is culpability in not seeking assistance". So the message there is that in L&D we need to do everything in our power to foster a culture in which people work confidently and feel able to experiment, knowing that the necessary support is available to them. I posted about this a while ago. ( http://bit.ly/h9VaRk)
If the first requirement is difficult the second challenge is major. The L&D person of the decade is very different from the Trainer or Instructor of the past. He needs a network that can truly be mutually helpful, an understanding of the business he works in that allows him to identify the real need and respond to it, the people skills to get alongside colleagues, a knowledge of the tools, platforms, repositories etc that can provide help. She also needs a sensitivity to be able to take each person with whom they deal along a path into the networked collaborative world which meets their need and speed of learning, and which neither scares them nor overwhelms them with the twin threats of constantly evolving tools and changing communication norms.
The path along which to lead someone to build their confidence as they foray into the wirearchy is a whole topic on its own. I will be writing about that later!