Why has learning got to change? Premium

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Each year, companies spend on average over $1,000 per employee in return for 32 hours of traditional training. However, 75% of managers report that programs have no impact on their performance. This comes as no great surprise given that 90% of knowledge and skills are acquired through experience, not classroom training.

1. A new context for learning
While the goals of professional training and knowledge development have changed very little since the 1950s, the means through which to reach them have evolved tremendously due to the huge increase in amounts of information (big data) and the emergence of knowledge networks. In addition, things change much faster than they used to, so people must constantly acquire new types of knowledge. Finally, Gen Y has now entered the workforce, and they expect up-to-date learning methods.

2. Compartementalization hinders knowledge development
Given the current abundance of knowledge circulating throughout the work environment, people are no longer interested in merely accumulating information. Instead, they want to have learning experiences. New knowledge acquisition can no longer depend on isolated transactions between “teachers” and “learners”; it should be the result of collective undertakings where people learn from each other.

3. Experiencial learning in the workplace
Companies must shift from a static conception of employee development (i.e., learners listen to teachers during occasional training sessions) to the idea of learning as a continual, experiential process; people and teams should always be attuned to learning new things. This means creating areas for virtual and/or face-to-face collaboration—places where people can meet, talk, share ideas, help each other out, and even formally define good practices.


Expert perspective from Maryannick Van Den Abeele, head of the reciprocal knowledge exchange network at La Poste (French postal service).

How can learning be aligned with a company’s operational requirements? The mail division at La Poste tried out reciprocal knowledge exchange networks (RKENs) that directly connect “suppliers” and “seekers” of knowledge. The advantage of this system is that it moves away from the unilateral relationship, turning employees into active participants in their own development and allowing everybody to benefit from collective intelligence!

Read our dossier
The new face of learning: chaos or well-orchestrated collaboration?

Based on Too Big to Know by David Weinberger; “70:20:10: Explorer les nouveaux territoires d’apprentissage by Charles Jennings and Jérôme Wargnier, an interview with Laurent Saussereau, CEO of Yuman and with Maryannick Van Den Abeele, head of Reciprocal Knowledge Exchange Networks (RKENs) at La Poste, France, January 2013.
Business Digest nº 233, february 2013

Watch the video
David Weinberger on Too Big To Know

David Weinberger, researcher at the Berkman Center and co-director of Harvard Law School Library Lab, explains the key ideas from his latest book Too Big to Know. His talk represents an opportunity to review the issues of knowledge transfer in the era of the Internet and social networks.