These are challenging times for business. A recent Towards Maturity Benchmark Report reveals that 72 percent of CEOs believe the next three years will be more critical for their industry than the last 50.
Jane Hart, of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, believes that learning professionals who can move from being creators to curators of learning can stay relevant in these turbulent times. She says, “If learning is going to keep pace with that change, we need a rethink. Traditional learning has focused on the provision of static formal courses and training. But they don’t reflect how most people learn, and they lag behind emerging trends.
“If Uber, AirBnB and other disruptive innovations tell us anything it’s that, if we don’t keep pace with change, our skills become obsolete, along with our companies. Instead of providing fixed courses, we can help people to learn continuously.”
“That means supporting a culture which looks externally for insights. That means finding, filtering and sharing the most recent, relevant content that’ll give our teams a competitive advantage. That means a mind-shift from creation of formal learning to curation for continuous learning,” adds Hart.
While formal learning – the “10 percent” in the 70:20:10 framework – will always have a place in L&D activities, so will the “20” (learning from others) and the “70” (learning from experience). Content curation embraces each of these three elements and combines them in “continuous learning.”
Unsurprisingly, Stephen Walsh, co-founder of Anders Pink, a curation company, agrees with Hart. He says, “Content curation matters. The world keeps changing. Knowledge degrades quickly. Learners need to be engaged and learn continuously.
“Most new developments, ideas, research, product launches, case studies, and discussions take place outside your organization. Learners need access to this external content to stay updated. It’s part of the continuous learning process.”
Walsh says there are two key questions for L&D professionals to answer: are you helping your learners find that content and are they finding it in your learning platform?
“A key challenge for learning platforms is supporting continuous learning, micro-learning and collaborative learning, especially since most of them currently don’t bring in external content,” he adds. “So, who’s going to find, filter and curate the relevant content for your audiences?”
Each day, content is produced faster than human beings’ ability to keep up with it. Moreover, with the pressures of business and family life, we can easily miss the content we ought to see. Not keeping our existing skills and knowledge up-to-date makes them – and us – less valuable.
Curation: Find, Filter and Share
Consequently, everyone needs someone – a content curator – who can find, filter and share worthwhile content effectively. A content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes, and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue. This involves:
- Finding the best external content from multiple sources.
- Filtering it so only the most relevant content makes it through.
- Sharing it with the right internal audiences, at the right time, in the right places.
- Adding value to that content with commentary, context or organization.
Anders Pink co-founder Steve Rayson points out, “If you worked for AT&T 30 years ago, you were working for the company that once owned the patent for the telephone. Flash forward a few decades and AT&T finds itself fighting to survive. It didn’t keep up with changes in its industry. It got ‘Googled,’ ‘iPhoned’ and ‘Amazoned’.”
A Better Way of Staying Smart
“Making the lesson of AT&T personal, whatever skills and knowledge have got you this far in your career aren’t going to get you, or your company, to the next stage,” says Rayson. “Reading ‘Exponential Organizations‘ is sobering for anyone who thinks they’re on top of their game. We need a better way of staying smart.”
That book reveals that the average shelf life of a business’s competency has fallen from 30 years in 1984 to five years in 2014. Among other things, this is because business models are changing, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have changed the core skill sets required for knowledge work, and the gig economy removes the guarantee of long-term employment in many sectors.
Job security and career development is about employability. It’s about keeping skills and experience that are relevant and that makes an individual employable up-to-date. Job security no longer comes from being employed.
In these changeable industrial conditions, it’s the continuous learners who’ll succeed. These people will, continually:
- Seek more knowledge.
- Learn something new.
- Learn a variety of things, not just those related to their current role.
- Seek new experiences and ways of doing things.
- Be up-to-date on current trends and technologies.
- Be agile, and flexible.
- Be well-connected, maintaining networks.
- Be active and visible on social media – tracking and sharing the latest developments.
The key question to consider where continuous learning is concerned is, “Are my knowledge and skills more valuable today than they were six months ago?”
L&D professionals can ask the question of themselves and of the staff in their organizations. All of our skills have a shelf life. Regardless of our training or expertise, we’re become less relevant every day if we’re not keeping pace with change.
Curation: Seek, Sense, Share
Harold Jarche’s “Seek > Sense > Share” model outlines how people can play a key role in continuous learning across an organization. Collectively, individuals can find relevant content from many sources. They can review, evaluate and assess how relevant it is and share it with their colleagues. But they need tools and platforms that allow them to do this effectively.
Yet this is easier said than done. Today’s technology-driven world creates “information overload,” based on three factors:
- Time – we don’t have enough time to digest, analyze and act on information.
- Quantity – millions of articles and blog posts are published each day.
- Quality – with so much information being produced, it can be hard to identify the bits that are worth reading.
Yet, to remain employable, everyone must invest in lifelong growth and continuous learning. Or, as Albert Einstein said, “Once we stop learning, we start dying.”
Next week, in a second post about content curation, I’ll be examining the key to curating.