His post was using a model of to identify organizational learning needs that I thought was too static. In addition, I think that the training needs change depending on the longevity someone has in the organization. Most corporate training in the beginning is really acculturation, training the new employee in the way the organization does business and its expectations for the employee. While this usually is done under the guise of content training, the fact is that the hidden agenda is for employees to learn the
I look at this as the sapling putting down roots. The newer the sapling the more likely they are to put down roots (you can graft a tree, but it may “look” different on the new tree). Once roots are established, the trees can begin to branch out (creating learning networks). After a while they begin to produce their own buds, leaves, and branches. Leaves fall as they are no longer needed and new leaves are developed.
This analogy can be used towards training and workplace education. Once the employee has a basis to work from, he or she begins to create their network. These branches grow in complexity over time. Knowledge, both tacit and explicit, formal and informal, nourish the professional growth of the employee, allowing him or her to produce in their job, discarding knowledge or skills that are no longer relevant (I don’t remember how to code using Wordix as it is no longer is necessary since no one uses it), replacing them with new skills and knowledge (like falling leaves replaced by new ones each spring).
This is a much more dynamic model. Every once in a while, an infusion of fertilizer (formal training) might be needed to keep the tree (employee) healthy. However, for the most part, a tree grows towards what it needs such as sun (goals), away from encroaching trees (micromanagers or other employees that might undermine him or her).
Information vs. Learning
So how do I distinguish between information and learning? Information is a tool that an employee uses. It is not necessary to “learn” when accessing and using information. To learn, there needs to be some engagement with the information and the creation of understanding through meaning making. As an auditor, I would look through inventory numbers, comparing them to projections and actual counts. My job was just to identify differences. In doing this job, I would follow a process I was trained to do without being required to make sense of what those numbers meant, just did they match or did they not. However, as a curious person, I would try to make sense of the differences. Why were they different? What was the process in reporting the numbers? My interviews with auditees often was as much an opportunity to learn about the plants and their processes, putting them into context with other industries I was familiar with. My learning required my own effort. Was it necessarily what the company wanted or needed? No. Was I engaged with the “information”? Yes.
Past the initial training and acculturation, I was able to learn for my own benefit within the organizational structure and culture. Some of what I learned was for my own personal benefit, but some also contributed to the organization. I became a node for international operations, especially in terms of understanding the international business climate and labor laws in which overseas plants were located.
Where do we go from here?
What we have yet to look at is how an organization balances the employee needs and goals, with group needs and goals, and how can the organization harness the creation of knowledge at the individual and group levels?