Nigel Paine – Work is leaning, learning is work

My belief is that the only organizations that will survive over the next twenty years are those that are flexible, fleet of foot, and creative, able to cope with volatility and uncertainty and complexity and ambiguity and the only way you can do that is to have people who learn. Learning becomes the essence of work, work is leaning, learning is work, you know that. And therefore we have to radically change what we mean by corporate learning, you know, and in many ways we have to radically change the people who’ve spend their careers in corporate learning, and been delivering courses and drip feeding bits of learning, it’s not enough, it’s not sufficient. A learning organization is one where learning happens all the time. Insight is churned, knowledge is shared, information is brought in from outside and constantly processed. That is not the same as delivering, you know, you get your two courses a year, you get three hours a year or three days a year, or whatever it might be, this is completely different approach.

So I think organizations are waking up to the power of engaged employees who are thinking beings, as opposed to beings who just do what they’re told and process stuff unthinkingly. So it’s, I think there’s a revolution in learning; already in the US, there is more money spent on learning in the US that in the whole of higher education in US. So it’s already a massive investment, but I think that it has to be differently focused, and it has to be an enabling investment now; not a doing to people, but enabling people to do things to themselves. And that utilizes the technology, the thing will make that work is technology, we have to use the flow and the free exchange the technology allows. We really have to use that much more consciously for sharing knowledge, and building knowledge, and creating intellectual property, intellectual resources. Human capital is the only way you do it, machines can’t really do that, they can help, but they can’t do it, so there’s got to be some big rethinks around learning, as far as I can see, and those organizations that get it would do better.

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