Real learning is a part of the work, not apart from it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Money Talks, Bullsh*t Walks

Ah the tentative marriage of Democracy and Capitalism. When times are financially good, incumbents win. When times are tough, the public moves to "throw the bums out!" In many organizations L&D is the long serving incumbent and as we know when organizational times get tough, L&D seems to be the first "bum" to get the boot. But what if the organization is profitable and division, departments and individuals can choose L&D services or not because they are a real cost (or investment)? 

In my organization we have charge codes for all activities. Simply put, if we don't charge our time on a customer project, we don't get paid (the org that is). To ensure that time and money is accurately recorded we have also had specific charge codes for non-project related activities, things like travel, training, and internal events. However this changed in 2015. Employees (about 80% of our workforce) are now required to charge any training event time directly to their project (vs. a single universal corporate code). 

Hold the phone! So any training taking 15 minutes or more outside of ones work will be charged against the profitability of the project? We may see managers and employees alike scrutinizing every offering and analyzing the impact of every attended event! Requests to L&D to build elearning, host a webinar, deliver a face-to-face event will plummet! Employees will now be cautious when selecting a training class over say a job aid or an informal coaching opportunity! Many employees will even forego an event altogether, instead promoting the idea to their peers that those in the know need to share openly and frequently!  

I couldn't be happier!

This can only make our organization stronger in my opinion. Better connected, thoughtful, continuously learning, and with everyone focused on the finances. Pragmatism can take it's rightful place on the learning throne! Unnecessary training and time away from doing the work will be on the decline. The question of "how can we get this information/skill without taking time out of work?" will be murmured throughout the organization. Now we may have a real opportunity to help people embrace workflow learning. More social approaches to knowledge sharing can thrive in these environments not because of some stale executive mandates to use an ESN, unconvincing presentations on loosely related industry comparable statistics re: social and informal learning, lukewarm peer encouragement efforts, or god forbid gamification tactics. No, now it's in using the model of business, it's economics, supply and demand, it's because people get hit in the wallet that behavior changes! 

At the end of the day, the bottom line is what matters and the fatter that bottom line is, the better.  Caveat Emptor! 

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