Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Leverage Informal Learning

Learning becomes the life habit for digital talent, and culture style for the digital business. 

Digital touches every aspect of business and society today, just like work is no longer the place we go, but the tasks we accomplished; now learning is no longer only about taking the courses in the physical classroom, or the education is 'done' in one's youth; it is the knowledge we gain, the insight we capture and the wisdom we pursue in our lifetime through multiple learning channels, anytime and anywhere. From a talent management perspective, how to leverage informal learning, how to enhance it, how to work with it and how to encourage it so it aids the organization in reaching its goals.

Informal learning at the corporate level starts to be more accessible to employees. The forms of informal learning take place in some of the most progressive organizations that support talent development. The reliance of Corporate University is starting to fade to alternate learning methods that encourage and engage employees in looking forward to participating at a higher level. For example, besides e-learning, there are organizations that encourage staff who participate in learning activities to return and teach others using a peer to peer approach.

Informal learning is on the rise with the increase of social collaboration tools. The emergence of social platforms provides the new way to learn, share and collaborate via direct applications at the corporate level. The organizations with learning culture have implemented the set of social collaboration tools as part of the overall talent management platform. And, the social/informal learning will become a mainstream learning channel and a preferred delivery method in the digital era.

There are still challenges to leverage informal learning and deliver best tailored learning solutions from a talent management perspective. Informal learning has always been happening but only now are organizations looking to leverage these conversations, create a knowledge sharing culture and change the scope of L&D's. But the main challenges include:
      1)  competitive nature of the business environment, the pressures to deliver results and optimize the use of work time. 
     2)  it takes time, that is hard to find, allocate and commit. 
    3)   lack of learning and knowledge-sharing culture.
    4)  It is very hard to measure "learning". How do you quantify and, therefore, justify the learning outcomes? The tricky thing is that formal learning is documented and subject to budgets: informal learning is rarely tracked - so it is difficult to identify comparative trends.

Now, information is only a click away, and the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened in the digital era, learning is not the things you are 'done' in your youth, and it has to become talent’s life habit and the corporation’s culture style; from connect-collect-collaborate to ask-learn-share, digital talent management will enable not only the information flow and knowledge flow, but more importantly, it will empower the mind flow.


Some have complained that the terms 'human resources' and 'human assets' are demeaning; 'digital talent' hits a new low in turning people into objects.

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