Corporate Eye

The Revolution In Corporate Training

Talent management is top on the lists of many CEO surveys.

Today’s workforce issues have the potential to impact business performance in the coming years, according to Deloitte Consulting LLP’s recent survey on talent management strategies. Almost three quarters (72 percent) of companies surveyed said they are concerned that the inadequate skills of incoming workers will negatively affect their bottom line. 2005 Talent Management Strategies Survey

As it is stated in Key Trends in Human Capital Report of Saratoga Institute, that in order to stay ahead in the competition, Organizations must rely on its people’s capabilities. In other words, Organizations have long known that they must have the best capable people in order to succeed in the competitive and increasingly complex global economy. Now, there is also awareness that Organizations must approach talent as a critical resource that must be managed in order to achieve the best possible business results and positioning over competitors.

Simply put, Talent Management is the recruitment, development, promotion, and retention of people. Since the new route to competitive advantage, Talent Management is an essential corporate concern. Read more in DDI’s CEO Guide.

Development of talent includes training to develop skills to meet rapid changes in the business landscape. As indicated in the following graph, thanks to Bersin & Associates (small compared to the big consulting companies, but one of the best when it comes to talent management) learning and training is a key component in talent management.

This is where the revolution comes in. The rapidly changing business landscape is demanding a change in how learning and training is delivered. While this is happening guru Jay Cross tells about the new 80% rule — companies spend 80% of their training budgets on formal methods but 80% of learning takes place informally at the workplace. But the revolution has already started —

50% of respondents to a recent eLearning Guild survey felt that informal
learning works better than formal learning; and 75% suggested that at least 50% of the
knowledge employees need to perform their jobs effectively is acquired informally.

Informal Learning can be as simple as reading parts of a book or article, taking a course from the robust inventory offered by open source networks and other providers. It can also be as comprehensive as a corporate wide network making full use of Web 2.0 technology such as such as customized internet search, specialized databases, Wikipedia, Social software (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, instant messaging, web based video, podcasts). As consultant Peter Senge puts it, “…informal learning is that which allows the tacit knowledge resident in a group to emerge and be exchanged, sometimes by serendipity, sometimes in the course of accomplishing a specific project, through the construction of spaces that support learning.

Since I believe in the value of visuals, here is one the best for Informal Learning and does a great job showing its essence —

You may view the full image (large file) at this site.

A brief comparison of formal vs. informal learning —

Didactic “Sage on Stage” lectures Experiential/Interactive
Bricks and Mortar Virtual and Bricks and Mortar
Explicit knowledge focus Tacit knowledge focus
Normally passive Participatory
Scheduled Any time
Mechanistic Organic
Tell Show

Two additional key benefits of Informal Learning are that it has a significant positive impact on the corporate culture and it contributes to the transfer of tacit knowledge which is vital to corporate performance

Informal learning is not meant to completely replace formal learning. Rather the two are blended into a composite approach that increases the return for the company’s investment in employee learning.

Informal Learning Advantages

A well executed corporate Informal Learning process has a number of benefits

  • Cost savings
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Improved customer relationships
  • Fast new product development

Informal Learning Corporate Example

According to Jeanne C. Meister, writing in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, one company using informal learning in an innovative way is Intel Corp. They have created an in-house wiki called Intelpedia. This is a way for Intel employees to share knowledge, collaborate with employees and post need-to-know company information in a safe, behind-the-firewall space. Within the first six months, more than 10,000 page lookups were tracked and Intelpedia has quickly become the go-to place for new recruits who need to know what an Intel acronym means or want the latest update on a project.

Examples of Financial Benefits

  • Accenture receives a 353% return on investment in learning. The Communities of Practice are an excellent approach for Accenture professionals to exchange information and learn from one another.
  • IBM employees learn 5 times as much at 1/3 the cost of classroom instruction. “Basic Blue,” was developed as a new, worldwide management training program. IBM uses Basic Blue to deliver critical leadership information to new IBM managers via a combination of e-learning, simulations, in-field experiences, face-to-face, experience based workshops, and coaching.

Finally, if you don’t already know about Web 2.0, you will learn enough to have an interesting conversation with the Millennials generation in your organization.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.