Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013 - (Page 9)
CoNNeCtIoNs | charLes Jennings
the focus has moved
from the process
to the product
eXtractinG learninG from work
e need to learn in order to work well. There is clear
evidence for that. However, we also need to learn from
Over the past few decade, most learning professionals have
wholeheartedly embraced the former of these two statements - it
has been the raison d’être for learning organizations. However,
only a few address the latter.
There is certainly an increased interest on linking learning with
work. Learning content and activities are now designed with the
impact they will have in the workplace in mind rather than a focus
on the learning itself. For many, the focus has moved from the
process to the product.
injecting Learning into work
Many learning professionals have extended their programs
into the workplace in one way or another. The increasing focus on
outputs and on solving organizational performance problems has
been a major driver.
Some achieve this simply by constructing pre-work that is carried out before participants take part in a training program, or by
developing work-based exercises and activities that are completed
by the participant back in the workplace following a program. A
large percentage of blended learning is built on this approach. Prepare in the workplace - learn in class – “embed” learning back at
So, there is a clear trend toward embedding learning in work.
This is good to see, although there is still a considerable way to go.
Adding learning into the workflow is certainly better than
providing learning as a parallel activity to work. All the evidence
points to the fact that learning is a continuous process that works
better if carried out in the context where it is going to be used
rather than away from the workplace. Research tells us that the
relationship between success in post-course tests and performance
in the workplace is complex but often weak. People who do well
in class tests don’t necessarily turn out to be high performers in
extract rather than inject
Injecting or adding learning to work is one approach. It is better
than away-from-work learning. However, an even better strategy
than injecting learning to improve performance is to extract learning from work in order to further improve performance. Why is
extraction better than injection?
Extraction of learning from work can be much more readily
incorporated into daily or weekly work rhythms. It is easier to take
time in a meeting with your manager to think about what you’ve
learned from your last week’s work activities and how you can accentuate the positives and extinguish the negatives, than it is to
take time out to step through some workplace learning activity.
types of workplace Learning
Injecting Learning INTO Work
Extracting Learning FROM work
Courses and programs are designed tools and techniques are used to exso they add learning into the work- tract learning from work experiences
objective is to improve learning
objective is to improve performance
Flow: learning > work
Flow: work > learning > better work
measurement: learning metrics
measurement: performance metrics
results in additional activities and results in changes activities only
Of course, you could take time out to work through some learning exercises or content in the workplace without involving your
line leader, so it may be easier in the instant, but it certainly won’t
be as effective.
the Line Leader role in extraction
Line leader involvement is the key to extraction of learning
from work. If your direct manager supports your efforts to learn
from your experiences and if she provides space and time to allow
you to reflect on your learning, then it will be highly successful.
If your line leader is not involved, you may still find good opportunities to extract learning from your work but, almost inevitably, opportunities will be fewer and the work experiences from
which you are extracting learning are likely to be less focused for
My advice is to think “extraction” rather than “injection.” Use
work to learn and develop, as well as using learning for work.
Charles Jennings is a director of the 702010 Forum, Duntroon
Associates and the Internet Time Alliance. Email Charles.
Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2013 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine / www.trainingindustry.com/TIQ
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013
Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013
From Where I Sit: Back to the Basics
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: A Brave New World
Extracting Learning From Work
Poor Behavior: Your Brain is Partly to Blame
How to Design Engaging Training Programs
The Missing Link in Learning
Don't Let Training Be Half-Baked
What the Latest Brain Research Tells Us about Designing Learning that Sticks
Motivation: The Key to Learning Transfer
Improving Learning Outcomes with a Bite-Sized Strategy
Adult Development: Predicting Learning Success
From One Brain to Another: What We've Learned about Learning
Formalizing Informal Learning
Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013