Partially-melted chocolate

Hot fudge sundae

Reda Sadki Writing

Through their research on informal and incidental learning in the workplace, Karen Watkins and Victoria Marsick have produced one of the strongest evidence-based framework on how to strengthen learning culture to drive performance. Here, Karen Watkins shares an anecdote from a study of learning culture in which two teams from the same company both engaged in efforts to reward creative and innovative ideas and projects. However, one team generated far more ideas than the other. You won’t believe what turned out to be the cause of the drastically disparate outcomes.   I recorded Karen via Skype while she was helping me to perform my first learning practice audit, a mixed methods diagnostic that can provide an organization with new, practical ways to recognize, foster, and augment the learning that matters the most. Recognizing that the majority of learning, problem-solving, idea generation, and innovation do not happen in the training room …

Submarine control panel. Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pearl Harbor. Personal collection.

How do we measure the impact of informal and incidental learning on organizational performance?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Evidence from learning science clearly identifies how to strengthen learning culture in ways that will drive performance. However, in a recent study conducted by Learning Strategies International (LSi), we quickly found limitations and gaps in the data available from the organization examined, despite the best effort by the organization’s staff to answer our questions and requests. We found two gaps that needed to be addressed before the most effective approaches to develop capabilities could  be applied usefully – and their impact measured: The gap between a commitment in principle to learning and skepticism about its actual value. (This gap surprised us.) Gaps in data and reporting needed to measure internal learning (and how to improve it). We believe that the first gap (skepticism about the value of learning) is the direct result of the second (lack of measurement). Without a measure of its impact on performance, internal (staff) learning is likely …

Painting at Trigonos (25 January 2017). Personal collection.

The future of learning that could have been

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

In June 2017, the Institute’s president, together with its Chief Learning Officer (CLO), convened an all-hands-on-deck meeting to announce the Institute’s commitment to strengthening its learning culture of innovation and change through an innovative, evidence-based internal learning strategy. Staff were invited to nominate and then elect representatives to the Learning & Development Committee (LDC), mandated with the challenge of ingraining learning “karma in the walls and halls” as key to delivering on its promise to prepare a new generation for the coming humanitarian challenges. In July, the Institute performed its first benchmark of learning culture and performance. This demonstrated that staff learning is key to mission, financial, and knowledge performance (ie, to delivering results). This benchmark was followed by a learning practice audit in August that woke both managers and staff to their existing strengths and the amazing ways in which they were already continually learning at the point of …

Conversations.1 Stills from a music video for The Hole Punch Generation (Gwen Vanhee/flickr.com)

Dialogue and inquiry

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

We learn from each other through dialogue and inquiry. We are excited that we can participate in a rich, diverse world of different perspectives and opinions. Conversation, as George Siemens says, is the “ultimate personalization experience. We ask questions and offer views based on our own conceptions. We personalize our knowledge when we socialize” (Siemens 2006:42). Newcomers may find dialogue and inquiry to be lacking, but this may be in part that they have yet to learn the unwritten rules of our learning culture. These unwritten (tacit) yet sometimes rigid rules of engagement frame how we may respond to each other’s knowledge needs, especially in group contexts. Confusion or even anger may result when breaking this culture of consensus. In formal settings, our organizational culture of consensus prevails. Disagreements are seldom expressed overtly. Decisions may be made in informal settings, and meetings then serve to make public what has already …

Pinwheel tessellation, version 2, reverse, backlit (Eric Gjerde/flickr.com)

7 actions imperatives of learning strategy

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

The learning strategy recasts the evidence-based seven dimensions of learning culture (used to measure learning culture and performance) as action imperatives. In order to improve performance through learning, the organization needs to take specific action to: Create continuous learning opportunities Promote inquiry and dialogue Encourage collaboration and team learning Empower people toward a collective vision Connect the organization to its environment Establish systems to capture and share learning Provide strategic leadership for learning For each action imperative, analysis is grounded in the narrative of individual learning practices reconciled with best practice drawn from the vast research corpus on learning culture and performance. Patterns emerging at the juncture between narrative and evidence may then be formulated as general and specific recommendations, while carefully considering feasibility and risk in the organizational context and environment. Photo: Pinwheel tessellation, version 2, reverse, backlit (Eric Gjerde/flickr.com)

Speaking of effigies (Dayna Bateman/Flickr)

Make a wish

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Thinking aloud, Writing

Is the CLO really the ‘fifth wheel’ in the organizational strategy wagon? Learning leaders tend to roll their eyes upward in sour-faced agreement about ending up as an after thought – after strategic alignment has been completed everywhere else in the organization, or being considered as a support service to enable and implement rather than a partner. So, what to wish for? First, I would wish for an organization that is mission-driven. This is what everyone wishes for, of course, so let me try to be specific. The mission should inspire, giving everyone something to strive for, to encourage people and structure to reinvent themselves to face global complexity – with clarity that reinvention is a constant, not a one-off. It would require strong leadership, not command-and-control, but modelling the values and practices of the organization and the acceptance that uncertainty requires calculated risk-taking, now and tomorrow. Such distributed leadership requires a strong, vocal chief executive attuned to the …

Pyramide d'abricot à La bague de Kenza (Paris)

Bite-sized update: higher education in fragile contexts, discovery without analytics, and the epistemology of learning culture

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud, Travel

As much as I wish this blog could document my reflections as I read, research, speak, and listen… it cannot. Knowledge is a process, not a product, in this VUCA world we live in. I know that I am doing too much, too fast, to be ale to process everything. Accepting this is part and parcel of navigating the knowledge landscape. So here is an incomplete round-up with some schematic thoughts about where I’m headed. Higher education in fragile contexts as a wicked problem: Most ed tech conferences I’ve attended are mostly male, and tend to focus on the education of those least-in-need. Inzone’s workshop on education in fragile contexts was at the other end of that spectrum, with a diverse team of scholars and practitioners coming together to tackle wicked learning problems such as how to ensure access to education for Syrian refugees in Turkey (access), what to do when refugee camp conditions are such …

Learn and change

Reda Sadki Learning, Learning strategy

A learning organization is an organization that has an enhanced capacity to learn and change.   Source: Watkins, K.E., Milton, J., Kurz, D., 2009. Diagnosing the learning culture in public health agencies. International Journal of Continuing Education & Lifelong Learning 2.

Ancient Mayan port city of Tulum, Yucatán Peninsula. Personal collection.

Community health into the scalable, networked future of learning

Reda Sadki Writing

“At the heart of a strong National Society” explains Strategy 2020, “is its nationwide network of locally organized branches or units with members and volunteers who have agreed to abide by the Fundamental Principles and the statutes of their National Society.” To achieve this aim, National Societies share a deeply-rooted culture of face-to-face (FTF) learning through training. This local, community-based Red Cross Red Crescent culture of learning is profoundly social: by attending a “training” at their local branch, a newcomer meets other like-minded people who share their thirst for learning to make a better future. It is also peer education: trainers and other educators are often volunteers themselves, living in the same communities as their trainees. Although some National Societies have been early adopters of educational technology to deliver distance learning since the early 1990s – and IFRC’s Learning network has scaled up global educational opportunities since 2009 –, such …

View from the Learning Executive: Reda Sadki

Reda Sadki About me, Interviews

This article was first published by the ASTD’s Learning Executive Briefing. By Ruth Palombo Weiss Q: Why do you think the Red Cross Movement has a deeply rooted culture of face-to-face training for its 13.6 million volunteers? A: There is a deeply rooted culture of face-to-face training at the Red Cross because of our unique brick and mortar network of hundreds of thousands of branch offices all over the world. What drives people to the branches is that they want to learn a skill, such as first aid, disaster risk reduction, and we’re really good at teaching those things. In the future, educational technology might enable us to connect branches to each other. Imagine what the person in Muskogee, Oklahoma, can learn from the Pakistani Red Crescent volunteer who lived through the Karachi, Pakistan flood in 2010, and who participated in the recovery efforts afterward. That sharing of knowledge and skills …