Friday, 9 November 2012

Advice for Heads of L+D and those with 'culture change' in their title...

I’m observing a trend in L+D and culture change programmes (and particularly in those who manage and make decisions around them) a staggering assumption that if something is ‘delivered’ then it is ‘learned’.
Let’s just take a few examples – as real as I can make them to suggest that this is wrong. Keep in mind, as was famously said once, that intelligence is to hold in one’s head two opposing sides of one argument simultaneously.
It says on the side of cigarette packets that THEY KILL YOU. People still smoke.
It says 30 on road signs.  We all speed. All of us.
I’m told to be healthy I should eat 5 portions of furit/veg a day  – you haven’t done that either have you...
It’s told in schools and addressed in magazines, t.v., the web and almost everywhere apart from an Ann Summers shop (there’s an idea) to have safe sex – the UK has year on year an ever increasing percentage of underage pregnancy and rising STD’s in young people.
Got the hang of it? You’ve probably thought of a few real examples yourself.

These are examples of broadcasting messages. It’s evidence of ‘delivered = known’ thinking; something that has kept internal comms people busy at the photocopier for years.
BUT what is broadcast isn’t learned.
Learning doesn't follow stimulus response. It's not a linear process.
L+D and culture change is sometimes seen as something that is ‘done to’ people ‘in business’ by ‘managers'. But Adult Learning doesn’t work like that.
If you wish to encourage a particular kind of behaviour over another (the root of culture change) then, it’s necessary to discover and highlight the cues that lead to the behaviour in question. It’s incumbent for L+D and Culture folk to arrange situations in the design of their programmes (and wider context at work) so that the desired behaviour occurs when those cues are present. Even better if the undesired behaviour doesn’t occur along with supporting feedback when those cues are present too.
At school this is all under the skilful use of reward and punishment. Something that ‘teaching’ professionals should do well and consciously. business would do a lot to learn from this.
In summary: In the context of the professional environment, an adult doesn’t learn what he was taught on a workshop, training or from a manual. He learns only what that workshop, lecture or manual got him to do.

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