Technology is not the answer. Not automatically.
But many executives thought it would be so, that it was a matter of selection and investment. Now, many look back on prior enthusiasms for technology-based learning with tales to tell of dashed hopes. With hindsight, they know that nothing is automatic, not even mobile learning, and that success does not come easily.
No longer do executives see technology as learning fairy dust. They know it’s a minefield out there.
Those of us who believe in technology for learning and support must contribute by helping executives find those mines and do something about each and every one of them.
Here is a checklist to coach leaders as they consider their organizational readiness to benefit from technology. Can they offer a strong affirmative to these statements? Really and truly?
Honest consideration will remove any fairy dust still lodged in the corners of their eyes.
- We are clear about what we want our people to know and do.
- We have provided good reasons for our people to be enthusiastic about going in these directions.
- We are prepared to show commitment going forward.
- We provide ways for them to talk to each other and to experts as they move in these directions.
- We have analyzed how they feel about this initiative and are responding to concerns and questions.
- We will help them to explore their resources and grow comfortable with a more independent and connnected way of learning.
- We have looked into their confidence about moving in these directions and are poised to boost or maintain that confidence.
- They have access to the necessary technology.
- We have thought hard about where and how they will access these programs and anticipated and mitigated glitches.
- Their managers know what we are doing and why.
- Their managers are keen on this direction.
- Their managers know enough to talk about this with them.
- When our people go in these directions, we will recognize their efforts.
- We help them by providing what is necessary to be successful, from learning programs, to information on demand and human support too.
- We will track how they are doing and help them do better with the outcomes and with the means for getting to those outcomes.
- We are making conscious decisions about what they must know by heart and what can be referenced at the moment of need.
- We constantly ask ourselves about the value of what we are delivering, both the ends and the means, remaining humble about these ideas and technologies.
Few executives will honestly consider this list and yes, “Yes, sure, we’re good-to-go.” It might be concerns about the first line managers. Perhaps it is fuzziness in the rationale for the program or even tweaks not yet made in performance reviews to reflect the new priorities. Whatever it is, however many red flags there are, we must work with them to create alignment and fertility.
In the classroom, we rely on instructors to step up and make fixes when a program is off target. An instructor adds an example to make it relevant. Another reminds the employee of all that he already knows. Yet another teacher acknowledges that the software has not been rolled out and sets up online coaching sessions to refresh and maintain skills– or contacts first line supervisors to prepare them for the altered ways their people will now approach this task. Think about the savvy instructor who recognizes that the instructor guide, as now written, ignores a new competitor. She adjusts to make the program timely– and useful.
When we move to technology and expect employees to reach for and appreciate assets in the workflow, their efforts must return high value resources. What they find must matter to them, boost their fluency, answer a key question, connect them to a meaty conversation, or point to a valuable policy, community or person.
The resource must make a case for itself with the individual and a home for itself in the culture.
These are good times for technology for learning and performance. But not automatically. Expectations are high, grow ever higher, and link us not just to learning, but to what really matters. It’s all about graduation rates, sales, safety, retention, a second language, matching services to needs, and superior service. These reality checks, these conversations, this focus on execution and alignment, this is what we sought when we dubbed ourselves learning and performance professionals, not just trainers.
That’s 17 statements. What would YOU add?