The Need for Informal and/or Formal Learning is always driven by a “Required” and/or “Desired” Performance Competence – and the ROI for addressing the “need” and/or ignoring it, or deferring it, or redefining it and then addressing it, etc.
Where Performance Competence = is the ability to perform Tasks to produce Outputs to Stakeholder Requirements.
Not to be confused with Competencies.
The Response of Informal Learning to Directed Informal Learning to Semi-Formal Learning to Very-Formal Learning is situational. As always, it depends.
In “Investments in Learning” there is ALWAYS a “Cost of Conformance” – “CoC” — and — a “Cost-of-NonConformance” – “CoNC” which compares “doing nothing” versus “doing something”
…and the “costs” of each…providing one with the data to calculate ROI for this and other opportunities competing for the (most likely) constrained resources of most-any Enterprise.
When I think about this and apply it to “Informal Learning” I see many potential “costs for doing nothing” — BUT — I understand it is “very situational” and one must ask these type of questions about any “particular situation” and then be careful to NOT OVER GENERALIZE the answer to all other situations across an Enterprise. Because I do believe that there is a time and place for Informal Learning.
Informal Learning – where the Enterprise decides to deliberately “leave Performance Competence” to chance…as a conscious, calculated “business decision” is very OK with me. They may enable it with Performance Support tools (sometime called Learning Tools), but they are not addressing it “by design” with clear outcomes at predicted costs for future returns. Not as they might treat a big ticket Capital expenditure.
But it is especially OK with me when and where the “leaders of the Enterprise” clearly understand WHERE each “ignored opportunity” is – so as to enable them to systematically re-address that in whatever routine they see wise – and re-address all of the other opportunities to “Invest in Learning for Returns” – and move some up to a higher priority…in their due time…when it is the right time…for the Enterprise as a whole.
Because a key bottom line question for leadership is:
- What are the costs for redundant Informal Learning?
I think it could be a very big “cost” number for some Enterprises. Not for all. Key variables?
- The more people you have doing “similar, very similar and/or the very same” work performance…the more it’s going to cost.
- The more that performance is inherent with Risk of non-compliance and customer/stakeholder dissatisfaction…the more it’s going to cost.
That’s just two variables to consider for your situation. And that may be more than enough data to justify doing something about it…or nothing at all.
What might you do if it is “worthy” to address?
- Clarify both the Processes and the Practices that are necessary to protect and improve the Enterprise.
- Map the Processes/Model the Performance – at a high level and point out where “which” particular “human practices” – of the management or individual contributor or team member – have a GREAT LEVERAGING or AVERAGING effect on Enterprise Process Performance.
- Identify BEST SITUATIONAL PRACTICES – Process by Process…where the comparative ROI indicates to make the investments for the returns…as a wise business decision.
My approach to clarifying all of this is best presented in my book: lean-ISD. It is available as a free, 404-page PDF on my web site at: www.eppic.biz