Transformation NOT Information

Jun 29, 2016

Putting E-Learning in its Place

We live in a digital world. The way we acquire information has been revolutionized, but it is a mistake to assume that the way leaders learn has evolved at the pace of technology.

Imagine you’re having open heart surgery and just moments before you go under the surgeon informs you that this is his first time performing this operation. But not to worry, he took a great e-learning course on it. Our hearts willing, most of us would run.  Instinctively we know that taking in information on a screen is very different from the kind of learning we demand of our surgeon—and of our leaders.

Despite our instincts, too many companies are training their leaders to to tackle challenges that require the kind of learning that we would demand of our heart surgeon. Hands-on, face-to- face—transformative. Why is this happening? Much of the trend is driven by an attempt to keep pace with the increasingly digital world, manage costs, saving time and a bit of magical thinking.

Magical thinking according to Wikipedia’s definition is: “the attribution of causal or synchronistic relationships between actions and events which seemingly cannot be justified by reason and observation.”  In other words, unrealistic and irrational thought processes that we hope will produce a profound impact. It requires scant research to back it up—In fact, it often defies the research.

Over the years we have found that the term magical thinking is quite useful to describe all kinds of things organizations may do with good intentions—but simply don’t add up. So how do we make digital learning add up?

Simply put, by fusing transformative and informative learning. Transformative is the breakthrough learning that builds the leaders our organizations urgently need.

Informative learning via digital becomes a powerful tool for reinforcing the mind-set and behavioral changes forged in the hands-on experiential learning environment.

Getting the context right matters too—but that’s for another time.