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e-learning and Company Culture


I’ve just clicked on the opinion poll posted by Training Zone, about the most important issue when considering e-learning. I’m glad ROI is not the top one, but am surprised that company culture is coming out top of the list.

Company culture is an important issue, but can also be a limiter on the success of a project. Company culture infers a stagnancy that I think can cause problems.

Restricting a project for the sake of company culture is putting the people in that company in a behavioural box. Diversity is the key to growth, not just for the individual but also for the future of the company.

I would be interested to hear what other people think.

Craig Worcester

8 Responses

  1. What IS and what COULD BE
    With respect, I wonder if you’re confusing “what could be” with “what is”.

    Yes, it would be nice if companies operated on the basis of “best practice”. But the fact is that most of them don’t. They are largely driven by the need to protect the interests of those who are the true movers and shakers.

    These are the people who shape a company’s culture, “culture” being:

    – what we value,
    – how we do things,
    – what we DON’T like
    – what we reward
    – what will get you promoted
    – and so on

    Come appraisal time, the simple truth is that people will be assessed and rewarded on the basis of how well they have conformed to the company culture.

    In short, if you want something to have any chance of success then it must fit in with, and be supported by, the company culture. If it isn’t then, even if no one says so out loud, it is simply irrelevant.

  2. e-learning and Company Culture
    If you leave things to go on as they have always done then, nothing will move forward. New ideas and ways of doing things need to be introduced in a way that the participants create the idea. Suggestion and a bit of a pushing, work as well as dangling the carrot although the previous is cheaper. No two companies work the same; can you make the difference? and at the same time drag those people kicking and screaming towards your end goal.
    Remember DOS used to be the answer but most people thought Win95 was the solution, yet we are now looking at Win 2003 and Linux and MAC X. People adapt you just have to show them the benefits!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Interesting Result
    Yes, this is indeed an interesting result, but I’m wondering how culture is being defined by those who responded.

    There has been so much hype about e-learning and regretably too many bad experiences, so perhaps the attitude underpinning the culture repsonse is “it won’t work around here”…?

    That it, our staff won’t like that way of learning, they’ll be sceptical about how it would work, etc.

    I can see culture impacting on this, but I would also suggest that appropriate e-learning, targetted at the correct audience, at the right time and with a real business need to focus on, will help to ensure that the e-learning is used…and culture shouldn’t play a role.

    I have seen considerable successes with the use of training technologies used in this manner, in a number of organisations all with strong cultures of their own.

  4. Not surprised at all
    I personally, am not in the least surprised that Company culture is coming out on top of the poll. Wrestling with an elearning project at the moment, I am finding that culture impacts on every area of elearning I look at.

    I wholeheartedly agree that culture should not restrict a project, but you can’t ignore it, to do so you risk dooming a project from the start.

    I say, plan your elearning project with systems in place to cope with all those nasty aspects culture throws at you, and take advantage of all the good aspects. Remember SWOT RULES and keep Culture on the top of your risk assessment!!!

  5. Cultures must adjust to change
    Company culture is of course a barrier to any change. In e-learning, which often requires significant changes in personal expectations and accountabilities at many levels, culture can get in the way. The flipside is that e-learning, if designed and deployed with care, can be a catalyst in engendering culture change.

    And, of course, culture evolutions can be required by e-learning at many levels. Senior managers have to buy in to the importance of e-learning. Learners may have to rethink their own expectations, motivations, and work habits. And trainers have to re-invent themselves to take advantage of the wide array of new tools at their disposal. If a corporation’s culture is gung-ho about continuous evolution and empowerment, then it will not be an impediment.

  6. Company Culture & Learning
    Hi Craig,

    I quite agree with your statement that company culture can be limiting to learning. I would go one step further and say that it is limiting if not damaging to any form of learning happening in the work place. People need to be able to develop their own skills in a learning environment that, whilst reflecting the ethos of a company, also enables a greater importnace on the need for personal development. This also allows the company to go through a period of culture change by recognising internal enterprise ideas generated by the most valuable of all commodities – the company staff.

    I also feel that too much emphasis is being put on e-learning, as this if done incorrectly can be very limiting to an individuals learning needs, never mind the companies.

  7. e-learning as a facilitator of change
    E-learning can be used to change company culture, not to be restricted by it. For many organisations e-learning presents an opportunity to address wider issues around empowerment, responsibilty and the chance to review the role of the training & development department. In my view, the role of e-learning in facilitating change, particularly that of T&D departments, has been overlooked. E-learning shoud allow organisations to embrace change, to see how e-learnings potential can cause change and not to restrict e-learnings impact by limiting it because of comapny culture.

  8. Catch-22
    Ken writes:

    “In my view, the role of e-learning in facilitating change, particularly that of T&D departments, has been overlooked.”

    Whilst I very much support all the calls for company culture change in favour of more learning, more flexibility, etc., it seems to me that if we’re being realistic there is a Catch-22 situation here.

    That is, if the company culture doesn’t already support e-learning then how can you introduce e-learning to change the culture?

    If, on the other hand, the company culture does support the use of e-learning, what is it you want to change.

    If the answer is “other areas of the culture” then I’d personally advise caution. If the attempted change fails then e-learning could be badly adffected by any backlash.

    To put it VERY simply, there appear to be two main “roads” to change – “push” and “pull”.

    Yet whilst there seems to be a growing realisation that “pull” is much more likely to work than “push”, still several of the suggested solutions are distinctly “push” in tone.

    Or am I reading between the wrong lines?


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