Learning Myths

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You’re probably familiar with the concept of an urban myth. And perhaps you’re familiar with the Mythbusters TV show, which often takes a look at urban myths and other things people believe might be true and puts them to the credibility test. (Before you go on, feel free to check out this fun list of the “Top Ten Urban Legends” if you’re so inclined.)

In the same way, you’d probably be willing to agree that many professions and fields of study have their own version of urban myths that people new to the field–or even those who have studied, practiced, and worked in the field for a long time–believe even though there’s no evidence to back the idea up or in fact there’s evidence that disproves it. (For example, we’re going back a bit here, but you may be familiar with the idea that the body has four different “humors” that govern our health and behavior).

Well, the sad fact is that the training/learning and development worlds aren’t immune to these kind of urban myths embedded into their own professional beliefs and practices, either. In fact, many people have mistaken ideas about what training methods are truly effective and which ones are just–well, bunk or even marketing hype.

In this article, we’re going to debunk a few of the most common learning myths for you, as well as point you toward some resources where you can learn more. In a future article, we’ll write about some solid, evidence-based training methods that DO improve learning. So watch out for that companion piece to this article. And you may also want to quickly review how people learn, since the way we learn is a big reason why some training methods help us learn and some training methods don’t.

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Freak Out and Innovate: Problem-Solving Tips from Freakonomics

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If you know anything about the current business environment, you know it’s changing, it’s unpredictable, and businesses are at risk from various forces, including globalism, increased competition, and the threat of disruption.

And that’s why it’s important for businesses to make an investment in learning and performance improvement. And why we write about the importance of being a learning organization (see our interview with Arun Pradhan on Learning Agility & Learning to Learn and with Michelle Ockers on Becoming a Learning Organization).

One of the benefits of learning agility, learning to learn, and being a learning organization is that you’ll increase the creativity and innovativeness of your employees and, as a result, of your company as a whole. And this increase in creativity and the ability to innovate will protect your company from the risks of changed, increased competition, and disruption.

But of course, there’s more to do to help your employees become more innovative. Our article about employee motivation based on Daniel Pink’s book Drive noted one thing you can do is create conditions that make for motivated employees, since motivated employees are more likely to create innovations.

In this article, we’re going to consult some more experts to find what else you can do to foster creativity and create innovations at your workplace. And who better than the crew at Freakonomics with their book Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain?

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Psychological Safety & Learning Organizations

Psychological Safety and Learning

Why would you want your workplace to be a learning organization? Because learning is the key to your future success, and being a learning organization gives your company a better chance at continued or new success.

(Side note here: Check out our What Is a Learning Organization? article and Becoming a Learning Organization recorded webinar with Michelle Ockers to learn more about learning organizations). 

Amy Edmonson is one of the acknowledged gurus of learning organization theory, and in fact she contributed to the very well-known Harvard Business Review article Is Yours a Learning Organization? More recently,  she’s focused in on one key aspect of learning organizations. In fact, you could call it a bit of a pre-requisite. And that’s what Edmonson and others call psychological safety.

It’s Edmonson’s claim, and a claim she backs up well with data in her book The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth, that you can’t truly have a learning organization unless you’ve first got psychological safety.

We’ll give you an introduction to psychological safety and Edmonson’s thoughts on it, including how psychological safety contributes to learning, growth, and even innovation at an organization, in this article.

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The Three Phases of Risk Assessment: Risk Management Basics

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In this installment of our Risk Management Basics series, we’re going to take a closer look at risk assessment. In doing so, we’ll break risk assessment down into three separate steps: risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation.

We hope this article and our entire Risk Management Basics series will help you gain a better understanding of risk management and help you begin to use risk management techniques at your workplace. Or, if you’re already using risk management at work, to perhaps improve what you’re doing now.

Drop us a note in the comments section below if you’d like us to address any particular risk-related topic in this ongoing risk series.

And if you’re involved in occupational safety and health, feel free to download the free Guide to Using Risk Management for Occupational Safety and Health at the bottom of this article (but note, this article addresses risk management and risk assessment in a general manner and can be applied to any aspect of enterprise risk management).

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8 Principles of Risk Management: Risk Management Basics

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This is the first article in an ongoing series that will introduce the concepts of risk management. The articles and series will be based on the ISO 31000 standard for risk management (at least the initial articles will) and the discussion about risk management in these articles can be applied in any industry and for any subject–finances, supply-chain management, brand reputation, talent recruitment and retention, market share, occupational safety and health, supply-chain management, and more (this is known as enterprise risk management).

If you’re new to risk and risk management, we hope that the articles in this series will demystify the field to you and show you the opportunities that taking a risk-based approach can offer in a variety of applications.

Please let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to address in future Risk Management Basics articles, and of course do use the comments section if you’d like to chime in with your own knowledge, thoughts, and experiences.

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How to Become a Learning Organization (An Interview with Michelle Ockers)

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We’ve written before about what a learning organization is and what are some of their traits, and we’ve even talked about how to integrate safety departments into learning organization efforts (see this Safety & Learning Organizations article or this recorded Integrating Safety into Learning Organizations ASSP webinar).

But we thought we’d shoot big and talk to an expert in the field to learn what organizations can do to become learning organizations: Michelle Ockers.

Michelle very kindly shared her time and knowledge to help us get up to speed. If you’re interested in knowing what a learning organization is, or if you’re looking for some simple steps to move along the path, this is a great place to start.

The video of the discussion is immediately below. We’ve also typed it up for you if you’d rather read–just click the MORE button to read on. 

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8 Ways a Learning Management System (LMS) Serves as a Risk Management Tool

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Risk management is an important tool in many different fields: finance, safety, and more.

Risk management is also central to your workplace learning and development efforts, even if you don’t think of workforce learning in that way. But stop and think of all the different risks you’d face if it wasn’t for your workforce learning programs. You might not be able to recruit as many good new employees without one and you might not keep the ones you do recruit as long. New employees would struggle to understand their jobs and it would be harder to teach them new job roles and skills in their career path. You might quickly run afoul of compliance challenges, and without an emphasis on learning, your company might drift into inefficiency, irrelevance, and ultimately out of existence.

One tool your learning program can use to reduce these risks is a learning management system, or LMS. We’ll discuss a few of the ways an LMS can help your organization reduce risk exposure in this article.

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Deep Learning, Deliberate Practice, and Desirable Difficulties: An Interview with Patti Shank

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In this article, we’re going to investigate how to help workers develop job skills through deep learning, deliberate practice, and evidence-based training methods known as desirable difficulties.

Sounds pretty exciting, no?

Well hold on to your hat, friend, because it’s more exciting than just that.

We’re going to do this by talking with Dr. Patti Shank, one of the most informed and generous learning researchers out there, and someone from whom we’ve learned a lot about learning over time. We’ll say it below as well, but many thanks to Patti for sharing her time and knowledge with us.

You’ve got two options for taking this all in. Read the article or scroll to the bottom and watch a recorded video of our conversation.

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Tips for Small L&D Departments: An Interview with Emily Wood

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Learning and development professionals, including elearning developers, have to wear many hats. That’s kind of true by definition, since it’s a field that incorporates a lot of different skills and tasks. But it’s even more true for L&D/eLearning professionals who work in small learning development departments. Maybe it’s a 3-person department, or maybe even a 1-person department. It’s pretty amazing what these hardworking professionals get done.

This article is an interview with Emily Wood, who is her own “elearning department of one” at a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon. She’s also the author of a new book by that same title–eLearning Department of One.

In this interview, she offers some insights into how she gets it all done and offers tips and resources for L&D professionals out there in the same situation. If you’re in a small L&D department, we think you’ll find this interview especially interesting.

We’ve got a recorded video of the discussion for you immediately below, plus if you prefer reading, we’ve typed up a transcript for you too (just click the MORE button to read).

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Free Manufacturing Training Guide: 5 Tips for Better Manufacturing Training

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In today’s economy, effective manufacturing training is a necessity. If you’re not training your workers to do their jobs properly, you’re pouring money down the drain and losing your competitive advantage.

To help you out, we’ve created a free Manufacturing Training Guide you can download. It’s right at the bottom of this article.

We’ve also got the bird’s-eye view of the content covered in this guide in a recorded, on-demand webinar for you. (more…)

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Effective Safety Training: A Guide to Creating, Designing, Delivering, & Evaluating EHS Training That Works

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If you’re in EHS (or Safety), you’re probably also in EHS (or Safety) training. If so, you’re going to LOVE the free downloadable guide at the bottom of this article.

The guide is going to walk you through all the steps of having a top-notch EHS training program that follows best practices. We think it will make your job easier and your workplace a safer, healthier place.

It’s a complete guide that will help you follow best practices for integrating your EHS and EHS training efforts; managing your EHS training program; design, develop, deliver, and evaluate your EHS training; and continually improve your EHS training.

Our guide has a lot in common with the best practices put forth in ANSI Z490.1, the American national standard of “Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training.” Although our guide covers nearly everything in the standard, we do recommend you still go and get a copy of the guide (which was just updated in 2016).

Let us know if you have any questions, thoughts, or comments–there’s a comments section at the bottom of this article. And enjoy the guide!

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What Is a Learning Organization?

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In today’s economy, it’s important for organizations to support learning. Without doing so, they risk losing market share or even going out of business due to increased competition or by being disrupted in the way that streaming video services such as Netflix disrupted the brick-and-mortar videotape rental business model of companies like Blockbuster.

While all or most organizations try to learn and use the results of that learning to adapt, some organizations do this better than others. Those at the “good” end of the spectrum, who use learning well, may be known as learning organizations.

In this article, we’ll talk more about learning organization theory, learning organizations, and the characteristics of a learning organization.

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