Chief Learning Officer - May 2006 - (Page 60)

CO0506.qxd 4/18/06 2:55 PM Page 60 general left business intelligence Informally Speaking: Peter McStravick In today's ever-changing economy, companies rely on Fi g u r e 1: Extent of Informal Learning Management their people to subscribe to a code of life-long learning C o m p r e h e n s i v e strategy in place to and be self-directed, self-motivated learners who can 8% f a c i l i t a t e and support informal learning adapt quickly in a dynamic workplace. To support them in this initiative, smart companies invest in formal S o m e ad hoc solutions in place 46% b u t no real strategy training offerings. Still smarter companies take a more N o solutions and no strategy in place holistic approach by supporting both the formal and 35% b u t want to move in that direction informal learning that occurs at work. N o t interested in developing a strategy 11% This month's survey asked Chief Learning Officer maga- b e c a u s e informal learning can't be managed zine's Business Intelligence Board to share its thoughts 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% on the topic of informal learning. In its simplest form, % of respondents informal learning is everything that formal learning is not. It includes a wide range of learning activities that fall outside a formal training program, such as on-the-job to rally support for something people can't quantify and occurs training experiences, informal discussions with colleagues, atten- without structure. Survey results support this fact. When asked to dance at industry conferences, reading trade publications and, more estimate the amount of informal learning that occurs within their recently, technology-facilitated activities such as Internet search- organizations, only a fifth of respondents indicated that it was ing, the use of online referenceware, live chatting, wikis, blogs and something they even tracked. Of this group, 15 percent said they podcasts. Informal learning occurs in both collaborative and indi- had no idea how much it accounted for, and the remaining 85 per- vidual settings and might be either planned or serendipitous. cent of responses were relatively evenly distributed across the full Learning professionals realize that it is not a matter of whether range of available choices, making it difficult to assign any one informal learning occurs within their workplace, but whether it is value to the amount of informal learning happening today. something they are willing or able to support. Tr a n s f e r of Knowledge: A Key Benefit If this month's survey results are any indication, the learning Tracking, however, need not be a prerequisite for recognizing the community seems split on this last point. No one disagrees with the value of informal learning, but many respondents were split value of informal learning. Despite the large percentage of respon- on whether it is something that should be formally supported dents who do not track informal learning, many acknowledge the May 2006 given the challenges that lie in tracking informal learning and inherent benefits that drive the need to support informal learning measuring its impact. within their companies. For example, learning professionals know that informal learning initiatives facilitate the transfer of knowl- I I Chief Learning Officer How Much Informal Learning Is Happening? edge throughout the enterprise. In business, making informed deci- In 1999, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that 70 percent sions relies on having access to the most up-to-date information. of the learning that occurs in the workplace is done informally. For The faster information travels to those who need it, the better leaders who have the responsibility to support their employees' equipped they are to make sound decisions. Whereas formal learn- personal and professional development, this is a hard number to ing tends to be slow and methodical, informal learning often occurs ignore. It is no wonder that respondents ranked it among the top rapidly and spontaneously. To this end, many companies provide three issues the learning industry should be paying more attention their employees with tools such as electronic whiteboards, live to in 2006. See Looking Forward: The Learning & Development chat, screen capturing applications and Web conferencing in order Industry in 2006, January 2006. The challenge comes from the to help create, capture and distribute informal learning content. fact that informal learning is such an amorphous concept. It's hard Business Intelligence Board members also said that they recognize 60

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Learning Officer - May 2006

Editor's Note
Table of Contents
Letters to the Editor
Take Five
Selling Up, Selling Down
Guest Editorial
Learning Solutions
Robbins-Gioia University
Deloitte & Touche USA
CLO Profile
Washington Gas
Case Study
Human Capital
Health Care Service Corp.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Business Intelligence
In Conclusion
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources

Chief Learning Officer - May 2006