Why are organizations so bad at learning programs?

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Saturday quick-hitter, so here’s a few reasons:

“Learning occurs best when we are not fearful and not defensive.” I got that quote from this post at Darden. Seems logical, right? Problem: most “learning” since WW2 has been tied to annual performance reviews, which create an inauthentic context of fear and defensiveness.

Execution is valued more than learning: This is part “Temple Of Busy,” part “Everything Is Always Urgent,” and part “If I Execute Well, I’ll Get Promoted, So Who Cares About Learning?”

HR typically owns it: People don’t care about what HR does, because HR doesn’t have its own P&L.

It’s seen as fluffy: If you’re a deal-making world builder or a road warrior sales guy, why do you need to stop and think about “learning?” You’re out there doing it. Slaying the f*ck out of those dragons, baby!

It’s a cost that could be avoided: Most companies still run on cost.

It’s meaningless: We’ve been doing training and learning programs for two generations now, and the same problems exist with managers, processes, workflows, communication, etc. So what do all these books, speeches, and modules actually do? The real answer is: “They make other people money.” The actual answer? They essentially just run in circles and repeat the same thing as the last program you were sent to sit through.

No one really seems to know how to design it: While some good examples of learning programs do exist, most seem to be either (a) cookie-cutter bullshit or (b) some up-sell from a “hot startup.” Inside enterprise companies, L&D programs are usually a legitimate tire fire.

Performance reviews are an outdated relic: Learning is supposed to occur once in a year in an inauthentic, forced way. Ha. That works well for the On-Demand/Knowledge Economy, eh? There are better ideas, but most aren’t there yet.

Deliverables above all: Most managers claim to want A-Players and innovators. It’s usually a lie. They want drones who will hit targets, get stuff off their plate, not ask a lot of questions, not really want to be managed, etc. A-Players and innovators need to have discussions and understand the context of pain points, problems, work process, etc. Most managers have no desire to do that. They claim to want to do that because their bosses use those words (“innovative learning culture of trust…”) but they just want to keep their own head above water, not manage 12 people. Most work cultures are “Deliverables Above All.” Learning doesn’t fit there.

What else you got?

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

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