I am the 83 percent


It may well just be me, but there seems to be more and more going on online about the issues caused by poor working practices around collaboration, in particular around documents.
This is interesting as it follows a presumption a few years back that, with Google Apps and new versions of Office, these problems were set to disappear.  As always, technology implementation without good change management has led to problems for some and what seems to have instead emerged are a complicated picture where:
  1. Some companies have failed to adopt new technology.  The imminent death of XP may drive laggards into reviewing practices and supporting improvements through tech.  For now, people are continuing to face challenges and wasting time due to inefficient IT.
  2. Some have adopted office solutions, badly.  I am increasingly of the belief that what is needed is ‘possibilities’ training in the tech sphere.  There is no point throwing people in to hours of, say, Excel saying training when what they actually need is for someone to look at what they do and offer possibilities for improvements.  For example, I wonder what percentage of the world’s population uses Excel everyday but do not know Macros even exist, never mind how to author them.  Sitting down with someone to spot where efficiencies can be made and identify the small differences in application understanding can, ultimately, add up to big efficiency savings.  This works across the board, for example I often sat down with people to show them how to do something with learning management systems only to end up asking ‘why do you do that?’ about how people operate in Office and other software.
  3. Some feel the need to look further afield.  I guess the outstanding question is if Office, Google and other major players are actually what you need.  The video above is a nice example of the problems identified by a company looking at alternatives whilst the likes of Huddle offer what can be seen as simpler but more effective solutions.

It is then of interest to see iCloud finally step up to the plate and potentially try to fill the enterprise-sized gaps in Apple’s offerings.

CILIP rebrand part two – aka for the love of ‘qualifications’

I had not intended to follow up my previous post with another but the disaster* that has been the CILIP corporate rebranding exercise has perhaps allowed for just as big an issue to go seemingly unnoticed.
This elephant in the room is what is happening to CILIP Qualifications.  Firstly, I will admit it’s not all bad but this just seems to make it even more disconcerting, the PKSB is good (as I’ve already suggested) and the simplifications in process make sense.   So what’s bad then?  Well…
  1. Fixed time (20 hours) for CPD – many members will know the problems this causes in their industries.  Lawyers, accountants, teachers and many more have professions backed by timesheet driven box ticking – no focus on learning outcomes or application of learning in the workplace or other professional activity.  Building a portfolio of evidence can be a pain but if we genuinely want reflective practitioners, working from a strong research basis, then portfolios are far better than saying ‘yep I’ve attended a course for two hours’.  This time driven approach is also difficult in light of 70/20/10 and other models which recognize the fuzziness of informal learning.  Again a portfolio, which for many people will be based on a blog they are maintaining anyway, allows for better recognition, articulation and reflection of and on learning.  I presume this is a change to encourage members to re-validate chartered status rather than doing it once and then letting it lapse, I fear it will simply water down the status of the ‘chartered’ role.  Of course a name change, from CILIP, within the rebrand may do this anyway.
  2. “Registration” – from primary school to Ellis Island this implies, to me, something you have to do.  Something you are forced into to make sure a greater power is aware you exist.  This is not how I envision my professionalism.  It is a tricky one, granted, but why not ‘career path’, ‘development path’, etc?  Perhaps the logic is that new professionals can be told to ensure they are ‘professionally registered’.  However, it again implies something you are doing for the good of CILIP rather than yourself.
* I’m taking “disaster” as the correct term on the basis that:
  • it has split the membership (the General Meeting vote being roughly 50/50) and undoubtedly alienated many people (the c.90% of members who did not vote).
  • correctly singled out on JISCmail lists and elsewhere as how not to perform change or communication management.
  • seemingly led to CILIP HQ being on the defensive and even less representative of the members than normal; the decision to call on branches and groups to support the rebrand seemed particularly odd as branches should be the conduit for membership concerns, not the other way around.
  • it even led to a horribly tabloid piece in The Times.
What does this all mean – well it encourages me to become even more withdrawn from the organization.  Indeed I may well fall into the ‘paying my dues and revalidating for the sake of it’ group I hint at above.  Amazing that a group I had such enthusiasm for six or so years ago can sap it away from you quite so impressively.

Did the Corporate University kill the Learning and Development department?

A lot of interesting stuff in the LPI’s report on the first results from L&D professionals mapping their skills to their new capability profiles.

For me, the big question which emerges seems to be if the trend for ‘corporate universities’ (CU)/’academies’/’business schools’/etc. have ultimately restricted L&D down a path they will struggle to come out of.  Yes, the CU focus can be argued as having created rigor in course development and deployment, often decreasing the reliance on third party training providers or off-the-shelf content, but they have in places restricted L&D to a fairly narrow subset of the the parent organization’s focus. The LPI summary suggesting the results show L&D professionals “lack the breadth of skill required”.

Where L&D is disparate from other support functions (including HR, IT and KM functions) there is immediately a risk of disconnect when it comes to actually building an overall framework for employee development and increased work efficiency.

Of course this isn’t necessarily a problem, yes you might need a wakeup call but, in some organizations delivering/developing trainings might be just what is needed. It might be that the organization needs what LPI results would suggest, at least historically, the respondents can supply.

The challenge from the LPI and other benchmarking would be for these professionals to reflect and consider if their team really offers what their organization needs and, perhaps more importantly if they do not, is another department at least filling the gaps. As an L&D professional you might want a role that we can see as the “21st Century profession” but other professionals are similarly looking at expanding responsibilities so I slightly question if the “Training Ghetto” is inevitably a bad thing.

Just as an academic university is only as good as its student support (including libraries, IT and facilities) perhaps the challenge now for corporate universities is recognizing how to create the collegiate atmosphere around courses (social learning) and user generated content management (library services).  That information architecture and developing communities/collaborative learning are identified as weaknesses in the LPI results then it would seem to be an area L&D departments need to improve in or at least leverage other teams in their organizations.