Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Post number 4 in my summer series to help people first understand, and then start to experience, and enjoy the fantastic world that is modern learning.  To taste is to enrich.....

The first step is to get a practical understanding of the world we are now living in – and what better way than to do that with a few stats! We are living with the outcomes of a revolution that has happened to every human being over the last 15 years. It is called the internet and with it has come the social media and a huge change in the way we communicate, share information, and indeed view our lives.  But first the statistics….

There is now more than a mobile device for every person on the planet – of course not everyone has one and some have more than three, but what it means is that we can, and do, connect with orders of magnitude more people than we did just a few years ago. And it is instant – we no longer even write emails to people. Yes, we do of course but email was eclipsed long ago by the volume of texts, IM’s etc that fill the cyber space. WhatsApp, one of the newer messaging services and with a footprint that is by no means global, now handles over 31 billion items a day – more than Twitter which itself eclipses email! There are nearly three times as many Facebook users as are subscribers to Outlook. I could go on – for those of you interested in trawling the stats have a look at .

But the lesson is clear. We all have devices and platforms that enable us to communicate in new ways – and we are doing it! (Still not convinced – then look at Erik Qualman’s stunning video that highlights our new world). It has happened at the expense of traditional methods! Why? Because the new methods are more effective for individuals. We have found them to work first in our social lives and so, naturally we take them into the work environment.  That is exactly the reverse of the way organisations and employee development evolved over the last century – during which the organisation decided what was right for its compliant workforce (we called it the way, but forgot that the “L” stands for Listening at the beginning and the “P” is for People at the end – everything else is in between making it happen).

So it is now imperative that talent hungry organisations respond to the social environment and create scenarios for talented people that enable them to thrive and innovate, otherwise they will not align or perform, and will not stay or even join in the first place. Paternalism, autocracy and even structure and rules are becoming outdated. The name of the game is to become specifically and intensely aware of how people communicate, how they want to learn and how they can be helped along paths they have determined for themselves. Of course there is lots the organisation can do to help its people create the environment that makes them successful – but that is for a later post in this series

This clip from a talk by Jason Fried takes a look at the implications for how effective work gets done

How then do we “Get to grips” with Learning today?  The great American evangelist Dr Billy Graham used an illustration when challenging people to meet God – “What does a banana taste like?” he asked them. “No-one can describe that taste – the only way to know is to try it”. You cannot stand on the side and observe learning – by definition you are involved in it. Therefore to understand it we have to explore it, use its techniques, experience the support of online communities, feel the power of the technology to open up new learning horizons. So in my next post I will be listing resources that I have personally found helpful and “tasty”.

To end this post I quote Lisa Goldstein, someone who I came to respect first through our mutual involvement in an online community, and who I subsequently  met and who has become a true part of my own learning network. 

I think an important element an organization must have is the ability to care.  I could be wrong, but it appears that when an organization / superior cares about the best outcomes for their subordinates, it is obvious and makes the difference.  I've heard small and large organizations say they do not care and do not invest in their staff because they think it unimportant.  Employees who are happy about learning opportunities and are supported are in such a situation either because their superiors truly care and want the best for their employees, or because the employee has been empowered enough through independent power, resources, and money to take care of their own needs. “

As with parenting – there is a time to let go, watch people fly, and be ready to help when they need it – but it takes courage!

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