Learning, leadership, and impact in the Digital Age: In dialogue with Karen Watkins

Reda Sadki Writing

Listen in on the Foundation’s first invitation-only Clubhouse chat. Karen Watkins and I chatted about the Foundation’s unique approach to this triptych of learning, leadership, and impact in the Digital Age. We shared some of the insights we gained about resilience during the first year of COVID-19, learning from the Foundation’s immunization programme that connected thousands of health professionals during the early days of the pandemic. It was informal in ways intended to provoke incidental learning. No stilted panel, rigid agenda, or dull slides. And, most important, we opened up the dialogue to include real-world challenges, successes, and lessons learned that were shared before the chat by invitees. Those we discussed include: Children adapting to digital learning in Lebanon during the COVID-19 period with involvement of girls actually increasing because of the use of digital technology. How to deal with resistance against peer-supported learning in pyramid organizational hierarchy. Bringing a …

Efteling gold fish. Personal collection.

Why learning professionals should strive to be leaders, not just service providers

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar, Leadership

The learning landscape is changing fast. Even the most jurassic face-to-face trainers I know are now embracing the digital transformation or at least trying to. Ephemeral fads such as the Social Age or gamification are proliferating alongside newer, more sustainable and productive approaches that match the learning contexts of humanitarians and support the development of their capabilities in a volatile world. Everyone in workplace learning – save a few proverbial ostriches going the way of the dodo bird – is trying to learn the new skills needed to operate in new ways to do new things. This is like a dream come true. But rethinking our roles, I believe, is going to be far more important than learning to run a webinar. Are we service providers? Are we a support service (like HR, security, and finance)? Who are really our clients, when those who pay are seldom those who learn? …

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 …

Smoke (Paul Bence/flickr.com)

Should we trust our intuition and instinct when we learn?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

How much of what we learn is through informal and incidental learning? When asked to reflect on where we learned (and continue to learn) what we need to do our work, we collectively come to an even split between our formal qualifications, our peers, and experience. As interaction with peers is gained in the workplace, roughly two-thirds of our capabilities can be attributed to learning in work. We share the conviction that experience is the best teacher. However, we seldom have the opportunity to reflect on this experience of how we solve problems or develop new knowledge and ideas. How do we acquire and apply skills and knowledge? How do we move along the continuum from inexperience to confidence? How can we transfer experience? Does it “just happen”, or are there ways for the organization to support, foster, and accelerate learning outside of formal contexts (or happening incidentally inside them)? …

Learning dashboard

Elements of a learning dashboard

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Theory

“What is clear is that a learning rich culture will emphasize informal learning and more open learning designs rather than relying only on formal training approaches. The learning infrastructure consists of all of the formal, informal, and incidental activities, systems, and policies that promote individual, team, and organizational learning and knowledge creation.” Source: Watkins, K., 2013. Building a Learning Dashboard. The HR Review 16–21.

Performance

Performance

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

The problem and the solution. Few empirical studies have examined the relationship between learning organization dimensions and nonprofit performance. Susan McHargue’s study was conducted to understand this relationship and how it impacts nonprofit organizations’ ability to become nonprofit learning organizations. The results offer guidance to human resource developers and managers who desire to integrate learning organization concepts into nonprofit organizations. Source: McHargue, S.K., 2003. Learning for performance in nonprofit organizations. Advances in Developing Human Resources 5, 196–204. Photo: Corey Seeman/Flickr