Learning…is to prevent drowning

Bob Mosher, writing in CLO magazine, was discussing training design. He was reminded, of an experience when he was a camp swimming instructor. "I was teaching rotary breathing and required strokes. But a colleague had another idea. Within minutes of starting he had his kids in the water. While he supported them under water he had them splashing away to get back to the dock. When I asked " Aren't we here to teach the kids to swim?" He replied, "We only have a week, my goal is to teach them not to drown.""

Bob noticed similar in the business world. He was hearing from learners that...the methods they were armed with to battle workflow are often dated, confusing and not consumable at the moment of need.

He went on, "When preventing drowning the first thing you do is search frantically for some form of life support to help the swimmer stay afloat regardless of ability. Depending on the circumstances, swimming may not be an option. Our learning designs need to - lead with survival first and sustainment second." (Italics mine)

Our role is shifting from "teaching swimming" to keeping learners afloat while they try to perform effectively. I saw this play out daily in the SaaS world. There users dealt with UI/workflows that changed often with little notice. Yet they still had to conduct day-to-day business operations as the tools changed. At those times they desperately needed help to prevent drowning in the changes.

We need to equip the enterprise to survive the turbulent and ever-changing work environment first - to prevent drowning. Then add training to prepare them to use, maintain and adapt to the new workflows. There is no time to do it any other way.

Have you noticed a similar trend?

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