It’s 4:50 am on the morning of the Australian elections. While our current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his contender, Tony Abbott are probably up at the same time anxious about today’s result, I have been tossing and turning in bed thinking about other things. Namely Jane Hart’s (@C4LPT) Social Workplace Continuum.
Now why would I be thinking about that?
For the past few months, our organisation has been through a major restructure that culminated this week with a centralisation of the learning and development function. The restructure itself wasn’t personally worrying. As as an observer of what is happening in our organisation and in many others (and possibly, across Australia when a new government comes in today), it is clear that organisations and Learning and Development functions across Australia are in “no man’s land“.
They are stuck in the middle of a divide which sees them unable to go back to the comfort of the old ways but at the same time, they must press on into an unknown world and possible dangers. Mark Britz (@britz) called it “Learning Helplessness“.
While the new organisational chart was communicated to our team, I kept thinking about two things. Firstly, Jane Hart’s Social Workplace Learning Continuum sprung to mind. It was evident that the new organisational structure was the ‘push’ that we needed to start to think differently about Learning. It was akin to getting orders that take us out of the safety of the trenches of traditional learning and into a new world. One where we were free to explore more innovative, flexible (dare I say this word, ‘agile’) solutions that focussed more on 20-70.
The second thought amusingly was Euan Semple’s (@Euan) definition of “Digital”which he describes as “the new fangled word which I don’t understand and am a little nervous of “. These two images in my head directly correspond to my observations and experiences of what many Learning and Development people are feeling in today’s workplace.
Through all that though, there are opportunities. You have followed my journeys on this blog to realise that once your mindset has been changed, there is no going back to the ways of traditional learning – and no, it’s not about the gadgetry either as they are merely tools that allow us to do the more important thing to socially connect with others so that we can hear their stories, learn from them and share our own.
But in order to enter the new world, Learning and Development need to be open to the change. We need to role model the way for our organisation so that learning is seamless – it’s not an additional activity that we do only at certain times of the day, or only when our employer pays for it – it has to be part of the way we work.
But this requires new skills for our own people which some may find confronting.
One of the personal challenges I have set myself is to be the role model for others in Learning Development. To try and experiment with new approaches, constantly learn and share what I have learned in various social media through my blog, Twitter and Yammer to inspire others to come on that journey with me.
My first aim is for L&D to build their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and to take charge of their own professional development.
For me, my PLN has been the source of all my learning. Everything began from there. I cannot tell you what was the most memorable course I have been on in my life but I can tell you the most memorable moments that I’ve had with my PLN and what was discussed, where they work, what they did, how and why they did it.
So with that I have set upon a challenge for myself to inspire other L&D people to create and build their own personal learning networks. I believe this is the starting point for the organisational culture to change so that we can easily walk across ‘no man’s land’ and into a new connected workplace where Harold Jarche (@hjarche) describes it where ‘the learning is the work and the work is the learning‘.
I will throw my hat in the ring for one of the Future Capability and Professional Development Consultant roles in the organisational structure and see where it takes me.
I have ideas around what is needed for professional development of the organisation through creating a cMOOC experience around the new skills and capabilities that are needed for a connected workplace ; introduction of social learning programs through Jane Hart and Harold Jarche and programs that primarily focus on peer-to-peer learning which I implemented in my previous role.
As a start though, I will continue to get ‘out there’ at conferences and events and promote my Twitter for Professional Development sessions across Australia in the coming months.
So sometimes we need a push to move us out of our comfort zone but the magic will happen through our networks and opening our eyes to new possibilities.
Let this next phase begin.