No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Parkin Space: Welcome to the 21st Century Learning Arcade


Remember the arcade game Space Invaders? The more attackers you shot down, the more they spawned and mutated, and the faster they moved, until inevitably you could not keep up. Game over. Welcome to 21st century learning.

Change management used to mean dealing with single adjustments in an organization. Now change is altogether different. It’s pervasive, relentless, unpredictable, non-linear, and frighteningly fast. That has implications for our concept of training, and for the nature of the services we provide.

Today, opportunities and threats are often first identified as they recede in the rear-view mirror. By the time we have created a learning strategy or simply a training course to address an issue, it’s no longer important or its context has altered. By the time we have configured our resources to exploit an opportunity, it’s gone.

We used to be able to take 100 hours to develop one hour of training product, knowing that it would be relevant and effective for long enough to generate a healthy ROI. That is no longer true in those areas where a company’s differential advantage is generated and sustained: inside its nervous system. It is the inherent smartness of the business, and the speed and effectiveness with which communication takes place, that are keys to competitive survival.

Individual employees and entire companies need to be better able to anticipate, generate, or react to change. That means making them (and the processes that support them) smarter, faster, more flexible, more collaborative, and more synergistic. Identifying and building the analytical thinking, communication, and decision-making skills of individuals at all levels, as well as in teams and business units, is becoming more vital than ever.

It's not enough to re-cast training as "learning", important as that shift is. To stay relevant and effective, learning has to be performance-driven and pro-active, which means being a formative part of company thinking, and of company workflows, rather than an after-the-fact service to the business.

Training professionals have to be willing to change their perceptions of what they do and of what “good practice” is, and to challenge the perceptions of others in management. The polished course may not be relevant. Training departments as central gatherers, re-formulators, and disseminators of skills and knowledge may no longer be relevant.

We need to lose the notion of training as a series of products and recast it as an integrated collection of perpetually evolving performance improvement processes. We should use appropriate technologies to collapse course development lead-time – or to eliminate courses completely. We should create dynamic learning processes that directly leverage the skills and experiences of employees. And we should integrate SMEs, managers, and business partners directly into the actual learning process.

With the accelerating pace of change in business, all employees have to learn more, more frequently, with less available time. People need to fit learning into their lives, rather than fitting their lives around chunks of learning. Trainers have similar constraints in doing their job: we have to develop and update more competencies more often, taking less time to do it. If training is to survive as a relevant function in business, we have to mutate, spawn new ideas, and move ever faster. Our best salvation may lie in collaborative teamwork.

Read all of Godfrey Parkin's columns at his TrainingZone Parkin Space


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!