On-demand learning is necessary because, in many jobs, it is impossible to know everything there is to know. And even if, through prolonged study and training, you were lucky enough to get to know it all, you’d soon find that most of it had changed. In the knowledge economy, it is more important to know where to look – or who to talk to – than it is to have the knowledge yourself.
According to market intelligence firm IDC, employees are, on average, losing seven hours per week searching, resolving queries and interrupting colleagues for assistance with procedures. The obvious solution, to provide some form of training, is simply not practical when the volume of information required to do your job effectively is too great or the information changes too rapidly. Formal training is arduous, disruptive and expensive and so best reserved for getting across the most critical concepts and principles, and the skills that employees use every day.
Increasingly, a better answer is to encourage learning at the point of need, when it is critical to an immediate challenge and when the employee’s motivation to learn is therefore at its greatest. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it.”
Coming next in chapter 4: The need for non-formal learning
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