It first happened in 2010 and then everyday thereafter. Emerging from my Master’s Degree in Adult Learning & Global Change and leaning into social media, I couldn’t connect the dots between 40 pages of a training workbook and 140 characters on Twitter. What troubled me was that I couldn’t un-see it. I still can’t. What troubles me even more is that as workplaces and organizations, for the large part, leaders can’t see it to begin with.
If how we consume information is increasingly lean, why aren’t we Lean Learning?
We spend most of our lives talking about lean bodies and budgets. We’re obsessed with it. We Photoshop and save pennies for it. Yet when it comes to learning, we pack on the details and filler. And then we retweet, repost or simply repeat facts at dinner parties like “Goldfish have greater attention spans than we do today.” GOLDFISH. Think about it – but you won’t be able to for too long because. Yeah. So why are we still elevating excess information when simple is not just sufficient, it’s just right?
Exactly, it’s way too complicated. Anything complicated in the workplace is the silent killer of innovation, ideation, and productivity. Yet we celebrate unnecessary details. We applaud terms that exemplify complicated like “matrixed organizations”. Then we use them in job descriptions and hope we get talent that can disrupt the matrix with their novel ideas and velocity. Lean Learning is part of the entrepreneurial DNA. Complicated learning says you don’t want to evolve, that you’ll die fighting for the status quo. This may have been cool in the 80’s or 90’s, and although stonewashed denim, scrunchies and audacious prints are reemerging as fashion trends, complicated will never again be in style.
This is Your Moment
Lean Learning is here to stay. It’s about moments of truth, of thriving, of clarity. Moments that propel entire days of finding meaning at work, of creating value beyond the boundaries of our own imagination limited by company imposed models & frameworks. Today, in the social era of limited time and excess consumption, employees need bite-sized pieces of social and digital knowledge that allow them to learn in a way that fits into their skinny calendar slots. This is how I define Lean Learning. It is being on the go and in the know and at its core are four key elements:
Learner as Hero – Save the day and increase self-efficacy on your own terms.
Micro Consumption – Learning that is lean and meaningful: short podcasts, 140 characters, 30-second videos, one-pagers, two-liners.
Social as Catalyst – Ideation through curation within and across social, mobile and collaboration technology.
Conscious Disruption – Showing up authentically, being fiercely curious, and raising the game by choice vs. prescriptive design.
Learning must be be lean and meaningful so that we can quickly consume, digest and apply it in real time, in real life to make a real impact on people as well as profit. In the world of work largely guided by an end goal of creating shareholder value, we often forget the need to create human value. Until robots run the world, this matters.