Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Training & Learning in a 'Pull' Environment

     Training is being impacted from the complex environment that companies currently operate in: globalization, in/out-sourcing, dispersed networks, social networking technologies, and new knowledge management technologies, to name a few.  Hagel III, Brown, and Davison (2010) discuss the transition from push to pull in their book The Power of Pull.  They explain push as the traditional methods of the organization defining our objectives.  “Push approaches begin by forecasting needs and then designing the most efficient systems to ensure that the right people and resources are available at the right time and the right place using carefully scripted and standardized processes” (p. 9).
     In contrast, Hagel III et al. (2010) described pull as operating on three primary levels.  “Pull helps us to find and access people and resources when we need them.  At a second level, pull is the ability to attract people and resources to you that are relevant and valuable…. we need to cultivate a third level of pull – the ability to pull from within ourselves the insight and performance required to more effectively achieve our potential.  We can use pull to learn faster and translate that learning into rapidly improving performance” (p. 9).  This idea of pull is reminiscent of the just-in-time quality improvement program where inventories are pulled, then reordered, only when needed.
     Applying this pull to training programs Hagel III et al. (2010) explained that: “from a push perspective, talent development is all about training programs – anticipating what employees will need and designing training programs in advance that can then be pushed out to employees at the right time” (p. 189).  This is where social media and collaborative learning comes into play.  Pull takes advantage of these platforms on the job.  Hagel III et al. expand on this by describing that “most learning occurs on the job as employees tackle challenging performance requirements and find new ways to deliver that performance” (p. 189). 
     Companies are no longer able to retain all of the knowledge and experience they require to operate within this complex environment.  Companies need to reach out to both internal and external experts to gain the knowledge required to address current problems.  Access to these experts is obtained through social media platforms and is done as the job is taking place.  This employee / expert relationship ends once the job has been completed as employees continue on the to next project or assignment.  Training will occur while conducting the complex assignments as employees work with internal and external experts, learning on the job with the help of mentors &/or coaches.  I like to call this type of training / learning ‘in-situ learning’.  Fostering this type of learning process can be conducted by providing the tools and access to the knowledge required to complete the job.  Training while completing the job will need to be addressed in a just-in-time fashion, providing assistance and access to information required to complete ones’ job.

Hagel III, J., Brown, J. S., & Davison, L. (2010).  The power of pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion.  New York, NY: Basic Books.
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