Background: At the ASTD International Conference and Exposition, a key topic of discussion is informal learning (supported by social networking and other technologies). In your organization, are you aware of its impact? Are you channeling or capitalizing on its results? Are you actively supporting it as a function of your learning organization?
My response: For a project I previously led, I created a focus group to address the intangible learning that takes place among the field service engineers at Hewlett Packard. We met once per month for one hour and the amount of information I collected was overwhelming. Engineers attended the virtual meeting from all over the world and were eager to have their voices and experience heard.
I found that the engineers were not only willing to share their best practices when servicing computer hardware and software but they also wanted to help me get the information into the training and development courses and the service manuals they used themselves so their knowledge would be shared with others across the organization.
We also discovered that some of the training material and documentation had procedures in it that had not been "field tested" hence the procedures were incorrect in many instances.
Based upon my personal experiences, I strongly support Patricia's statement that over 70% of learning inside an organization is informal. The trick is to figure out the method to tap into that rich vein of information and propagate it to the masses so that everyone can benefit.
Thanks for reading,
Kevin Love, MBA
Training and Development Professional
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
Google Voice: 817-778-8540
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