RIP Training; Long Life Learning

Credit: Pixabay.com

No one can deny the importance of training for improving performance on both individual and organizational levels. In 2020, the United States alone spent over $82.5 billion on training activities (https://www.statista.com). However, researchers and specialists in learning and development have noticed that traditional training is starting to lose its value. Some organizations implement training activities in the MENA region only because it is one of the key performance indicators that have to be met or just for ‘ticking the boxes’ or increasing the chances of winning some quality award. This is something I observed as an assessor and arbitration team leader in several of the excellence awards.

The approach now focuses on learning activities’ outcomes, be it formal or informal learning. The latter has become more efficient, especially when it is “conscious learning”. The term “learning and development needs” has of late replaced the term “training needs”. We have also seen the manifestation of the 70:20:10 model of learning, developed by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger (2000). According to this model, 70% of learning comes from problem-solving and on-the-job experience, 20% comes from co-workers, and only 10% comes from formal training. This model lays the foundation for a new mindset where the “Chief Learning Officer” replaces the traditional training manager. The “Chief Learning Officer” performs strategic tasks and is managed directly by the general manager or the chief executive, making him the hub of all learning activities. All assessments, reports, market analysis, benchmarking and competitor overviews are submitted to the CLO.

He/she analyses the outcomes of conferences and workshops attended by employees to derive the lessons learned from them. From this, he can change existing policies or establish new ones that promote innovation for the organization. However, many organizations invest in Learning and development activities; however, it may not align with their strategic objectives and ambition. This is one of the major benefits of adopting international people standards such as Investors in People (IIP). It helps organizations focus their efforts and investment towards what leads to achieving their objectives. In plain English, if any learning activities, e.g. benchmarking, job rotation, coaching, cross-training, cannot be mapped/aligned against one of the organization’s objectives, which means there is something wrong. In doing so, organizations have to consider various levels of learning, i.e. individual learning, team/departmental learning and organizational learning. Also, there should be an investment in having learning professionals qualified in the learning and development field. So what are the components of the people management system in world-class organizations? The answer to these questions is simple and can be summarised in three words, i.e. leading, supporting and improving; however, these words are the tip of the iceberg; so what organizations should undergo to learn and invest in their people effectively?

1. Leading means leaders will:

a. Play a key role in inspiring people and set the compass towards the right directions.

b. Live the organization’s values and behaviours and act as role models.

c. Empower and involve people in decision making and objectives setting.

2. Supporting means leaders will:

a. Manage performance and identify clear targets.

b. Recognize and reward high performance.

c. Structure the work and ensure everyone clearly understands what is expected from him/her.

3. Improving means leaders will:

a. Build capabilities and ensure that continuous improvement is embedded in day to day activities.

b. Deliver clear outcome of continuous improvement.

c. Create sustainable success.

In light of this, it is evident that traditional training has no room anymore; sooner or later, it will be replaced by more robust learning and development methods that directly align with the organization’s ambitions and business results. I think it is time that new methods ought to be implemented in organizational learning. Statistics show that with traditional training methods, employees forget 80% of what they have learned in eight weeks. However, the information lost with contemporary models amounts to no more than 20%. Quality guru Deming summed it up perfectly when he said, “what cannot be measured can’t be improved”.

Learning Into Action: A case study of 57357 Hospital for Children Cancer, Cairo, Egypt

In my continuous search for organizations that adopt and implement theories and practices of learning, I studied the case of the Children Cancer Hospital 57357 in Cairo. I can summarise what I witnessed in this hospital by saying that if you want to understand what a learning organization is, you should visit 57357 hospitals. This hospital is considered one of the largest specialized cancer hospital in the world. The hospital’s name is its bank account number (i.e. 57357), making it easy for donors to remember! All treatments, check-ups, nursing services and medicines are offered entirely free of charge to all people regardless of their background, colour or religion. The hospital is registered as a charity. When you step inside the hospital, you feel as though you are visiting another planet. The hospital is located in El-Sayda Zainab in Giza, which is a very crowded area. You see an amazing number of facial expressions in the hospital, such as fear, anxiety, hope, faith, and happiness. I find it hard to explain how a father or mother’s face looks when they hope to have their child cured of cancer. Their faces show you their deep anxiety and sadness. In addition to the children who reside in the hospital, some of whom have spent more than five years there, 500–600 children are treated at the hospital every day. Therefore, the hospital has established a boarding school. The KPI of 70% recovery has been exceeded; the rate is now 72%, and a new target has been set that meets the international benchmark (i.e. 85%).

This hospital is critical because it has provided everyone in the Arab world with hope, which we have missed for a long time. The hospital accomplished this because of its clearly articulated vision and mission. Hospital staff members can relate to the hospital’s shared vision and the strategic objectives; in addition, it is evident that all staff members have subscribed to the hospital’s corporate values and that everyone is “walking the talk”. The hospital director displays a large sign in his office with a quote saying, “Leaders fail when they STOP learning”. I found that the hospital has adopted and put into action most of the organizational learning mechanisms I researched and discussed in my book. Lessons learnt are discussed, documented and shared throughout the hospital’s business units. Water and electricity consumption has been dramatically reduced by adopting new methods and techniques, and medicine consumption has been optimized to reduce waste. Educational institutions are teaching and citing the hospital’s fundraising and promotion campaigns. Corporate and clinical governance is evident throughout all the business units. Do yourself a favour and visit this landmark learning organization, where learning is put into Action.

Alaa Garad is the author of the learning-driven business book and model; he is also a Speaker and Author, Founding Chair of Organisational Learning Conference MENA. Alaa can be contacted Medium or alaagarad@gmail.com

For more on learning and organizational learning, you may like to order the LDB Book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Learning-Driven-Business-Organizational-Learning-Ecosystem/dp/1472986679

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Organizational Learning Specialist & Author of the Learning-Driven Business Book and Model. Associate Professor @ University of Portsmouth Business School.

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Alaa Garad, FRSA, PhD

Alaa Garad, FRSA, PhD

Organizational Learning Specialist & Author of the Learning-Driven Business Book and Model. Associate Professor @ University of Portsmouth Business School.

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