Culture Shifting from Corporate Owned Training to Employee Owned Learning


Recently I’ve written about trends in eLearning as well as how general technology trends impact the training industry. There is one significant theme that is often ignored that I’d like to take a deeper look at. The theme is personal ownership of learning. For many this is nothing new. But for many more this a significant shift in mindset. And more specifically, this impacts the training world in ways few are discussing. So let’s talk about it.

What does it mean to the training department when learning becomes everyones responsibility?

Let’s start with what I don’t mean. I don’t mean to imply that the enterprise (or SMB) is suddenly forcing all employees to take responsibility for corporate training and development. There will always be a place for the training and development department. What I’m referring to is the trending rise in available content and access to peers and experts. So maybe it’s better to rephrase the question:

What happens when employees take responsibility for their own learning AND gladly teach others what they know?

…instead of being asked to do so by the training department. Today’s technologies are simple and effective content creation and delivery mechanisms for everyone. Employees are doing this already outside and inside the enterprise. The tools exist today, but the workplace culture has some catching up to do. But it won’t take long. The next generation workforce is already fluent in the use of the tools. And more importantly they are culturally comfortable with quickly, and easily, sharing their knowledge, experiences, and lives, almost instantaneously. Most businesses today are not equipped culturally to handle the coming socially open workforce. But rest assured all departments will work out their own issues.

What does that mean for T&D?

I’ve seen the knee jerk response of our industry to seek ownership of learning and wanting more control. However, I would encourage quite the opposite. Command and control is no longer an option. The best approach is to learn from the content world outside of your corporate walls. Employees creating content are not your competition. They are your partners. Identifying employees with a knack for creating useful content should be leveraged, supported, encouraged, and produced.

You may have an engineer who teaches wonderful courses in one country and creates her own content as well. Engage that engineer and use technology to scale up her reach. Use your learning management system to expand her audience, gain valuable feedback and usage data, and make her a star. In a strange way, training professionals have become the Simon Cowell of their companies.

There is a lot to talk about in the coming years. But I’ll end this blog post by stating that training content is no different than any other content. Your job is not about you and the magic you bring to content as an instructional designer. The ultimate culture change needs to occur within our own industry. The rest of the world will always learn just fine without us, but the business needs training to reach specific goals. Use every asset you can find to help the business meet those goals.