Friday, December 19, 2008

Sawing through the branch I'm sitting on

I haven't blogged much in the last couple of weeks partly because I have been turning over a question in my mind that I couldn't quite grasp.

I attended a meeting at Canary Wharf with Jay Cross and other luminaries last week which gave me a lot to think about. One comment from the Head of Learning at a major UK employer in particular gave me pause, "Training providers will become obsolete over the next few years".
This is a shame as my company has just been voted Learning Provider of the Year and Learning Organisation of the Year at the World of Learning Awards in Birmingham. It's bit like being the most highly evolved dinosaur seeing the meteorite coming.

I am inclined to agree with the gentleman in question that emerging free and close to free technologies combined with the pressure of a global recession do not bode well for training providers. I do add the caveats that learning functions of large employers should be included in this set as they are simply in-house versions of their outsourced brothers and sisters and I cannot see an immediate end for professional qualification providers.

But couple this with Tony Karrer's recent post on new models for learning and I begin to see the area that I think we should focus on.

The diagram above shows one way of looking at the total cost of learning and is drawn from a presentation I made a year ago to a client on what the UK learning industry would look like in 2012 (click here for full presentation). Historically I have focused on the inefficiency in the delivery management area under the premise that if we could build greater trust through greater quality, we could spend more time and money diagnosing the actual problem to be addressed. Rather than haggling over the cost of the medicine which may prove to be unnecessary.

Whilst I still hold to this belief, I can now see that collaborative learning also enables efficiencies in the delivery requirement area. In the past this has been the domain of consultants and ISD professionals with the emphasis on the word "design". Social learning allows for solutions to "emerge" from the end users without necessarily needing an expensive architect. Or at the very least significantly reducing the fees that the architects charge. There are also a number of tools emerging that would appear to facilitate this (debategraph being a very interesting example of a meld of mind map and wiki that should enable change consultants to extract information much more efficiently)

One of the other key themes from our discussions in docklands was, "25% more for 25% less" it is interesting to note that I was more ambitious in my presentation a year ago...

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