Skip to main content

OCM Value Add Part 4 – Humans’ Preference in Learning by Doing

As you think about making major changes within your organization there are two key questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Will this change accelerate the pace to get us to our more ideal future state?
  2. Will this change “stick” within my organization?

Business professionals will see greater success when their organizational change management efforts (OCM) align with how humans respond to change. In fact, five key challenges govern our ways of thinking:

  1. Humans’ desire to retain control.
  2. Humans’ desire credible leadership.
  3. Humans’ preference and success in learning by doing.
  4. Humans’ desire to understand the “bigger” picture.
  5. Humans’ desire to be a part of something that matters. Something that makes a difference.

In this installment of our OCM Value Add series, we’re looking at challenge #3.

Challenge #3 – Human’s preference and success in learning by doing.

From our experience in adult learning, we know that humans want control and involvement in the design, delivery, and timing of their training.

  • They want training designed around how they learn most effectively.
  • They want to experiment in finding what best works for them.
  • They learn by doing. An aspect of training that allows them to experiment in the future state before using it and long after it becomes their reality.
  • They want their training tied to a specific goal.

How it works today:

  • While adult learning is not a new concept, neither are many of the other concepts in this article. It must align with these challenges to ensure change that delivers speed and sustainability.
  • Much of change-related training has a heavy emphasis on pre-change “live”, in-person classroom training.
  • Post-change support is seen as an expense to be managed rather than active learning by doing.
  • Post-change support is often staffed entirely with live support that limits time (and budget), and as a result, limits how long the support can remain in place.
  • While not a new concept, allowing all future users to test drive, and experiment with, a new environment (including process changes) before its application is not widely done.
  • Trainers may or may not know how the system and processes work today.

What tomorrow will look like:

  • Live training before the change will be a smaller component than it is today.
  • The primary goal of pre-change training is to prepare the users with the basics, prepare them to operate in the future state on day 1, and know where to go if they have questions or “get stuck”.
  • Hands-on experimentation and learning by doing will be a part of the training process.
  • Post-change training will be seen as the primary training vehicle and will include access to expert advice, both live and automated.
  • Change champions who understand where to get answers (live or automated) for users will be part of the training infrastructure.  

Near-term actions you can take:

  • Introduce leadership to an overview of adult learning concepts in The Learning Pyramid[1] or other similar discussion starters.
  • Own the training development process. Limit the involvement of a technology vendor to a subject matter expert.
  • Budget the support function using measures that include competency vs dollars spent.
  • Ensure that messaging in communications is consistent with similar communication in training materials.
  • Ensure that users know where and who to go to in search of answers. Clear navigation is important.
  • If possible, task change agent networks with knowing where to go to update for answers.
  • Ensure that training materials are constantly up to date.
  • Champion the use of user groups to share learning by doing.
  • Ensure that the trainers and change champions know how the current environment works.
  • Survey effectiveness of post-change training.
  • Ensure that refresher training driven by use is part of the process.

If you’re looking for a partner to help lead a major OCM effort within your organization, we have the expertise. Get in touch, and let’s craft a plan tailored to your company’s needs.

Get in touch
Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group

Author Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group

Steve MacGill is an independent management consultant, advisor and freelance writer with over 25 years of experience in Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Leadership. He serves on CARA's Consulting Advisory Board and is a frequent contributor to our Blog on OCM-related topics such as change resiliency, building OCM competency, increasing OCM value, as well as the human side of change.

More posts by Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group