Traditionally, Learning & Development has been top-down. It enforces compliance and provides for some company-wide learning and development, such as culture and management. This type of L&D is limited – it doesn’t support functional departments all that well.

To democratize learning and development at scale, L&D leaders need to empower the edges of the organization to effortlessly share their knowledge. This is done easiest through peer learning, live online or in-person. To do this, L&D needs to provide a common platform and best practices to empower people to learn from each other.

Neglecting Large Departments

In tech companies, for example, Engineering is over a third of the company. L&D is often doing little to enable technical folks to share their knowledge effectively. These teams start taking their L&D concerns into their own hands. Sales Departments have been doing this for a while. Engineer teams are next.

Balkanization of L&D

Every department being on its own leads to a proliferation of ways learning happens. Discovering cross-departmental learning opportunities becomes hard. Tracking across various systems becomes impossible. Nobody is winning.

Content libraries go only so far

We hear L&D leaders getting subscriptions to content libraries assuming that those libraries will take care of those specific learning objectives. That is rarely the case. Most of the complex and dynamic knowledge is specific to the company and only the internal people have the right knowledge. Content libraries solve generic vanilla skills and do not address specific tribal knowledge sharing.

LMS is autocratic

LMS was invented in the ’90s to initially support Oil & Gas industry and US Army. It was made to ensure we don’t send workers and soldiers into the field with inadequate skills to do their basic jobs. It other words, it is a top-down administrative tool to ensure compliance. Even the SCORM standard on which LMS is based comes from the US Department of Defense.

LMS was not exactly designed to enable end-users, i.e. your employees, to stand up and share their unique knowledge with peers. LXP has done better but it’s still around vanilla content found outside of your building.

Democratizing Peer Learning at Scale

So, how do we let a thousand flowers bloom?

Live learning is easiest

Your experts are more than willing to share their knowledge with their coworkers. They just don’t have the time to write long manuals or create e-learning content. Especially when things are constantly changing.

Standing up and whiteboarding an idea is relatively easy. There’s little prep they need to do and they get to update the content on the fly.

Live learning gives them empathy

By connecting live (online, or in-person), your expert presenters get a deeper understanding of what challenges coworkers have and how to resolve them. This helps them hone in on explaining things that have people trip up. In turn, this makes their course better as presenters iterate on it.

All learning under one umbrella

For Peer Learning to be successful, we need all such learning to be discoverable in one place. The opposite of this Balkanization of learning that leads to confusion. As an employee, I want the simplicity of this is where I go for all internal learning opportunities.

Don’t-Make-Me-Think experience

The consumer apps have set the new bar for the user experience that your employees expect. Discovering workshops and mentorship opportunities needs to be as simple as engaging with social media.

In Conclusion

New Guard L&D enables the edges of the organization to blossom. It does that by enabling all its people to participate in peer learning. Unlike its predecessors, New Guard L&D doesn’t control the content – because the smartest people are everywhere. Instead, it provides a common platform and best practices for peer learning at scale.