Triceratops fossil, Galerie de Paléontologie du Jardin des plantes (Paris) (personal collection)

Dinosaur

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

“You’ll become a dinosaur if you don’t learn.” People in the organization recognize the need for change, see its value, see their own roles in the process, are willing to adopt new approaches, and possess the competence to move forward with change: At the individual level, we strive to consider each task, however mundane, as an opportunity to learn. Continual learning requires cooperation and collaboration with both internal (dialogue and inquiry) and external (connect to external systems) interlocutors. It is not “not knowing” that is the problem. It is often the lack of doing – a form of knowing. Meaningful connections are made explicitly based on need, rather than prescription, often to solve the problems at hand. Feedback is the key element in how we continually learn. We use feedback to adjust, acclimate, and adapt. We strive to leverage the tension between the learning we do to deliver results and the …

Sewer grill ecology

One size does not fit all

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

How does an organization’s leaders recognize, encourage, and reward both existing learning practices and positive change in learning behaviors that foster informal and incidental learning? Learning strategy recognizes the value of learning in all its forms, including informal and incidental learning, formal qualifications, and in-service formal education and training. One size does not fit all: the diversity of learning options also reflects the highly personalized nature of how each person organizes their own learning. However, learning strategy identifies learning activities that requires stopping work and dedicated resources as both difficult to apply and unlikely to be sustainable over time. Most of the learning that matters is, in fact, already embedded into daily problem-solving, dialogue and collaboration with colleagues and external partners. Members of the organization develop individual and team learning strategies as a matter of necessity – to get things done. Hence, the learning strategy seeks to recognize existing practices at least as …

Continuous movement (Matt Otto/flickr.com)

Nothing that we do can be taught

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Many people in the organization recognize the need for change, see its value, see their own roles in the process, are willing to adopt new approaches, and possess the competence to move forward with change. “Nothing that we do can be taught”, they say, “so the challenge and the learning need is almost constant”. At the individual level, we strive to consider each task, however mundane, as an opportunity to learn. Continual learning requires cooperation and collaboration with both internal (dialogue and inquiry) and external (connect to external systems) interlocutors. It is not “not knowing” that is the problem. It is often the lack of doing – a form of knowing. Meaningful connections are made explicitly based on need, rather than prescription, often to solve the problems at hand. Feedback is the key element in how we continually learn. We use feedback to adjust, acclimate, and adapt. We strive to leverage …

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)

Rainbow of Ribbons (Fleur/flickr.com)

12 questions that learning strategy seeks to answer

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies (behaviors) through experience and study. We all want to learn, so why is it so difficult to stop work to make time for learning, despite our best intentions? In exploring possible solutions to this question, learning strategy emerges from the existing practices and strengths of the organization – together with a diagnosis of where it needs to improve knowledge performance. Learning strategy examines how knowledge and learning can be improved, starting with mundane, routine or recurring questions and frustrations of daily work life, such as: What can I do when I have too much e-mail? How often should we meet as a team? How can I experiment and innovate when I have so many urgent tasks to deliver? The strategy also answers questions about how we work together as a team and with people outside the organization (partners, beneficiaries, customers…): How can I best …

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 …

TC103-Tech tools and skills for emergency management-screenshot

Tech Change

Reda Sadki Innovation, Interviews, Learning strategy, Video

The Institute for Technology and Social Change is a private company based in Washington, D.C. Its web site offers a course catalogue focused on technological innovation. Timo Luege is a communication specialist who has spent the last seven years working for the humanitarian and development sector, a period during which large-scale disasters intersected with the rapid rise in mobile communication. Starting on Monday, he will be delivering TechChange’s course on technology tools and skills for emergency management for the third time. In this interview he answers the following questions: What will I be able to do after taking the course that I couldn’t do before? Why should my manager pay for this, or at least support me? Why should my staff development or HR people support me to take this course? How will this help me to deliver for my organization – or to find my next job or mission? Humanitarian training …

Young man at a vocational education and training center, Marrakesh, Morocco. © Dana Smillie / World Bank

Making humanitarians

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Thinking aloud

The industry to tackle growing humanitarian and development challenges has expanded rapidly since the mid 1990s, but not nearly as fast as the scope and scale of the problems have spiraled. Professionalization was therefore correctly identified as a major challenge of its own, with over a decade of research led by Catherine Russ and others clearing the rubble to allow the sector to make sense of what needs to be done. The bottom line diagnosis is a now-familiar litany: a shortage of people and skills, lack of quality standards, inability to scale. Despite the growth of traditional university programs to credential specialized knowledge of these challenges and how to tackle them, young people armed with multiple masters find that they really start learning upon entering their first NGO. They face a dearth of entry-level positions (sometimes spending years as “interns” or other forms of under-recognized labor) and discover professional networks closed to them …

Online learning 101: Costs vs. efficacy

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Having presented three online learning approaches, here are three aspects to consider together: What is the cost of developing an online course based on each approach? What is the cost of delivering the course, per learner or per hour? What is the learning efficacy (outcome) that can be expected? Development costs for modules are comparatively expensive, as they are media-intensive and require complex production and technical skills. Often this leads to under-spending on the instructional design. The main attraction of this approach is its low delivery cost. It scales really well. Once you have a self-guided module online, the delivery cost is marginal. All of a sudden, you can abandon the elaborate schemes in place mostly to restrict access to limited numbers of seats. Unfortunately, the death knell for this approach is its limited efficacy. It doesn’t work very well and, probably, only marginally better than giving a motivated learner the …

Online learning 101: Approaches

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

There are myriad approaches to online learning. I’ve selected three. One of them should no longer be recommended. This is the production of information modules that test information recall. In some cases, aware of the limited outcomes using this approach, attempts have been made to encourage reflection or analysis, but then the limitation of the approach leaves the learner with limited or no formative feedback and reductive forms of assessment. We need to stop producing these “click-click” modules, as they are teaching all of the wrong things, even if the subject matter content is spot on. They are purely transmissive, leaving the learner to passively consume information. They substitute multimedia bells and whistle for substance. Their only real usefulness, in the past, was to introduce people in the sector to “e-learning” as a digital version of transmissive trainings in which the slide deck is the pedagogy. The other two approaches, fortunately, …