I came across this very interesting study done by Robert Kelly, Carnegie Mellon University where he analyzed how much information an average knowledge worker can retain while doing her job. This is what he has found out –
As you can see the amount of knowledge retention has rapidly decreased from over 75% in 1986 to just around 10% in 2006 for an average knowledge worker, which essentially means that today a knowledge worker largely depends on acquiring knowledge ‘just in time’ to do her work. This has some profound implications on how learning is currently managed in corporate environment –
Changing Business Needs > Changing Knowledge Requirements > Does Current L&D Mandate of Just Capability Building Work Anymore?
With fast changing business environment, an employee today has to continuously work on new things. For example, if we look at e-learning course development itself, the amounts of changes that have happened in just last couple of years are tremendous. We have moved from Flash to HTML5 and to tools like Storyline etc. A graphic designer is now expected to know Flash (for some work), tools like Storyline, and Captivate etc. And no one knows what might happen in next 6 months, and if some new tool might launch which may take the world by storm! This is not limited to e-Learning development – almost all service sector industries, be it IT/ITeS, BFIS, Life Sciences, Hospitality, Travel etc are experiencing these changes.
In such environment how relevant is then the annual skill gap based training exercise conducted by L&D teams? An average learner anyways can’t retain majority of the information that is transferred during a classroom training session, and on top of it, when the time comes a learner may not be able to put that knowledge to use due to frequent changes in job requirements or because that information is no longer available in an easy to use form. Isn’t it time then to work out mechanisms through which an employee can access relevant knowledge and expertise at the time of need? And isn’t it time for L&D teams to move away from just capability building to performance support as well? For example, by establishing knowledge portal, where an employee can conduct contextual searches for relevant knowledge that may come from any source (L&D or employees themselves) or look for experts within the organization, and take charge of her own training.
Evolve ROI Measurement Mechanisms to Stay Relevant
In current business environment when every department faces the pressure to innovate and optimize, L&D in my humble opinion can no longer just push ‘Happy Sheets’ to prove worth of their work. It now needs to start measuring learner engagement, and how successfully it supported the employee in timely acquisition the 90% of knowledge that she didn’t have to do her job.
I would love to hear thoughts on this, and also please feel free to contact us if you would like to learn how some of our customers are successfully transforming their L&D function to align themselves with needs of today’s knowledge worker.