The knowledge gap impacts business growth, productivity and compliance issues. The business transformation expert Loren Roosendaal explains how learning can bridge it through his high-impact ‘Learning Transformed’ video masterclasses.
Not many high school students graduate having created and worked on video games that millions of people play.
Or co-found a company in Silicon Valley and be CTO just a handful of years later.
And then become a serial entrepreneur as well as a leading business transformation expert and next set up an international institution in that area.
All before their first grey hair appears.
Meet Loren Roosendaal.
Fascinated by technology from a young age, today Loren is a professor of Business Transformation at TIAS University in the Netherlands. He also founded the Institute for Transformational Development in Sharjah, UAE.
He melds the digital and social realms to help organizations discover fresh perspectives on multiple topics. They include learning and development, behavior and culture, and digital business models. His advice, concepts, and innovations have been proven to revive failing business units and open up new markets.
Loren drew on his experiences from the past decade to create a Learning Transformed video masterclass. The 12 bite-sized episodes are packed with insights into some of the toughest learning and development challenges. The masterclass was released recently and this article offers its highlights and how to subscribe.
Here’s why this valuable resource is timely.
The Knowledge Gap Crisis
Companies across the globe take a massive hit when it comes to the knowledge gap in their workplaces. And they’re feeling it in reduced productivity, staff turnover, poor business growth, and higher compliance issues.
Few companies know how to address this effectively.
Even the World Economic Forum  has put a spotlight on the skills gap. If the world addresses that issue by 2028, the bounty is an extra $US11.5 trillion in global GDP.
Essentially, the gap in skills and knowledge have the same effect. They hurt business.
In general, personnel are increasingly struggling to build and update the knowledge they need to do their job. They’re bombarded with information around the clock and can be at a loss to know how to navigate that tsunami. It’s becoming trickier to figure out what information is relevant and what can be ignored for work.
Information Overwhelm: Doing No-one Any Favors
Information and knowledge are increasing exponentially.
The amount of human knowledge – that’s data, images, the lot – is doubling every 12 hours. The average knowledge worker is trying to process – daily – the same amount of info that would fit in 174 newspapers.
But how much can you afford to ignore?
Parts of information can become irrelevant and some of it even wrong. Knowledge advances and we need to keep up. Don’t assume what you’ve learned at school or even university/college still holds.
And how fast does the relevant knowledge the average worker need to know double?
An astonishing nine months.
But, that figure is now two years old, so you can bet it’s increasing.
You’d be challenged not to find a provable gap in the knowledge of your employees. There may be misconceptions, false truths, ignored facts or simply a lack of knowledge about particular areas. At times, this can lead them to make disastrous decisions not just for your business, but for human life.
It sounds dire.
The information they need to do their job well is out there. But, can they find and seize it in their quest for sticky knowledge?
For a business transformation perspective, this is where we need to focus. It’s about identifying what knowledge is meaningful so it makes an impact. In short, what knowledge do they need to learn, how and when?
It positions learning and consistent action as an antidote to information overwhelm.
Here’s how to tackle that.
Four Simple Principles of Learning
A powerful, but simple approach to boosting outcomes relies on four key learning principles. They take into account each learners’:
- Attention span
- Knowledge retention, and
- Motivation for learning.
For attention span, think about the average length of a TED talk – 15 to 20 minutes. If your staff tend to multitask and don’t focus, they’re really not giving learning a chance to hit long-term memory. Honoring attention span means rethinking if a day-long course will give participants regular and sufficient brain breaks to take in the knowledge.
Knowing your learners’ capabilities of competence is important, too. One-size-fits-all content for every staff member won’t cut it. Trainers and learning management solutions need to find out what workers know, don’t know and their cognitive levels. Modifying the content to offer participants alternatives helps improve learner outcomes. Vanilla-flavored training doesn’t celebrate learner diversity.
The key outcome you’d want to see is knowledge retention. So, after a learning session, personnel plan when and how to revise and retrieve the information. Use it or lose it.
They’re battling the Forgetting Curve . It’s science-backed having stood the test of time since first being coined in the 1880s. The theory holds we start forgetting as soon as we learn something … if we don’t revise it in active ways. That includes interleaving, bite-sized learning, fact anchoring, mnemonic devices and even visual alphabets.
Meanwhile, motivation for learning is another key learning principle. It’s going beyond showing up. Workers who are motivated to learn do this. They engage with, enthuse about and persist with continuous learning for their roles.
Why’s that important?
Encouraging employees to learn incrementally is more likely to build vital knowledge for your workplace.
Developing Your Learning Content
Using those four learning principles to design your content is a great start.
Next, consider teaching the right topics, learning solutions, building and rolling out the ideal learning experience.
The right topics might mean focusing on the vital knowledge your staff need to do their job first. Or does it? Actually, sometimes it makes more sense to teach them about your mission and vision before you tackle product knowledge content. They need to be aligned with your mission, and why you’re in business.
Once they’re on the right page, it’s a matter of teaching the right topics at the right time to the right people. That’s figuring out the difference between what they ‘must know’ and what would be ‘nice to know’.
Learning Management Solutions
But, do your due diligence. More than seven out of 10 managers surveyed said they weren’t happy with their company’s L&D function . As well, 70% of workers said they hadn’t mastered the skills they needed to do their job.
The World Economic Forum has found that in the three years to 2020, more than a third of the skills workers use in any industry have changed. That rate of new knowledge is a big ask for an LMS. It has to allow your company to continually update and adapt content.
The Ideal Learning Experience
And when you’ve decided on the content personnel need to master, how do you transform that into a lively learning experience?
It hinges upon knowing your learners. That is, their capabilities, their knowledge levels and to ensure you test for any misconceptions they may hold.
For those running a classroom-type session, some learners could be brought up to speed with pre-reading or watching a video. That’s what school teachers like to call the flipped classroom – it’s homework they door before they walk into class. These are ways to ensure a level playing field.
Designing the learning experience well also means thinking about what participants do after the session.
How are you going to help them consolidate, review, retrieve and importantly use the information they’ve learnt? This has to be planned and intentional. You can’t leave it to chance. Here’s some more tips to do that.
But, maybe you don’t need to pull staff away from their workstations for an off-site workshop. Transferring the learning experience to an online environment can be effective. It needs to be personalized for learners, of course. This is where your LMS should allow you to power up to that level.
Moving on From ‘Old School’
So, why does the way we do learning need to change?
Loren gave a TED talk on why learning is broken and how to fix it a few years back. He brought along his high school textbooks and had them piled next to him, as high as his waist.
The question he asked his audience: what had he retained from those years of learning?
Actually not much.
That’s because he maintains traditional classroom teaching is set up to make you forget.
You might think it’s the same for learning at work. However, much of corporate learning parallels how schools teach kids.
Face-to-face professional development – those one-day courses – replicate classroom teaching.
Elearning does the same.
Most versions merely digitize the textbook. You’re clicking instead of flicking through the pages. They rely on simple ‘read this and test your comprehension’ approaches. And even when you add videos, you’re just replicating the sage on the stage. The passive learner just sits and watches. Only this time, they can’t ask the teacher questions in real time.
Communication isn’t learning.
A Learning Culture for the Future
Communication and an LMS are key parts of building a vibrant learning culture. You’d also be well advised to:
- celebrate mistakes
- appreciate your experts, and
- offer clarity around your company’s purpose and goals.
Giving people room to make mistakes and allowing others to learn from it is valuable. After all, experience is an expensive teacher. If you’ve got a blame culture happening, your workers will shy away from admitting they tripped up.
As well, how you treat your experts matters. Too many businesses have their experts write lengthy documents that just get parked on a shared computer drive. That treasure trove of knowledge is often unloved and untouched by the rest of the company. That ignores the many touchpoints to that knowledge you can build into day-to-day work throughout your organization.
Another important aspect of learning culture is making the purpose and goals of your business really clear and meaningful for workers. When staff ‘get’ this, they’ll have a natural drive to figure out how to do their best.
Bridging the Knowledge Gap for a Living
So, the concept of transforming elearning away from replicating classroom learning makes sense to me on so many levels.
About three years ago, Loren set up Knowingo, a cloud-based mobile learning platform for corporate learning. It’s attracted substantial investment and continues to do so. It even won an Accenture Innovation Award and others.
As an ed-tech startup, Knowingo embraces cutting-edge technologies to deliver measurable and reliable results. That’s thanks to artificial intelligence and gamification embedded in this solution. It’s the newest kid on the block in the corporate learning sector – intelligent learning. Cloud-based and mobile.
Loren’s philosophy is that deep, rich and AI-powered learning through play should be accessible to everyone, particularly for work.
It’s time for business to tackle the knowledge gap with transformational learning solutions with measurable results that matter for productivity, compliance and morale. Make knowledge count in your business.
To subscribe to the Learning Transformed video masterclass, visit the Knowingo home page and scroll to the bottom.