Is know-how real know-how and succeeding real succeeding, if you cannot concretely measure these? This is something I have been thinking about for over a decade now. Actually, this has been on my mind since my graduation when I finished my university studies and stopped receiving grades from the work I did.
When a learner completes an exam or a course, it is straightforward to measure the level of the success via numerical evaluation (I'm not going to take a stance on how well the given grades describe the actual know-how of the learner). In the work life, for example in the sales, the level of the success is measured and evaluated based on the given sales objectives. Numbers indicate concretely whether you have succeeded or failed. How about when it comes to the work tasks, where it is impossible or irrelevant to measure the success with numerical measurements? When someone succeeds numerically, the focus is usually taken away from the potential need for further development in the know-how. When someone succeeds it may create an illusion of know-how and for those, whose single work tasks end with less glorious success stories (e.g. due to external factors), are easily connected with having a lack of know-how and need for further development.
Development and learning in organizations
In organizations measuring the learning and development of employees is frustratingly often left solely as the supervisor's task. How about, when the supervisor has tens or in worst case hundreds of subordinates, whose know-how should be monitored and managed? When we think about the supervisor's workload as well as the company employees, the situation can become unbearable from both of the point of views. If the workload of the supervisor is too high, it is obvious that the know-how of the employee is not monitored and guided on as unique level as it should be. Furthermore, in this case also the organization itself suffers, since it does not get a full potential out of its experts, as their know-how and development have not been recognized. Furthermore, the career paths have not been created in a way that they would respond to the expertise potential in the best possible way.
The situation becomes unbearable when thinking about the manager's work load as well as the single employees, since it is obvious that in this case the know-how of the employee is not guided and followed on a unique enough level. Furthermore, also the organization itself suffers in this case, since it does not get a full potential out of its experts as the know-how and development has not been recognized and the career paths do not respond to the existing expertise potential in the best possible way.
Approximately 90% of the learning happens outside official trainings, classrooms and large seminar halls. Then what is the most effective way to learn? Is it effectiveness, if the employee travels from Joensuu to Helsinki in order to attend a lecture, or if the employee watches a YouTube video shared by one of the coworkers, or if the employee writes own wiki articles? At least, when traveling there will be a recording left to the company bookkeeping and one can also add the training to own CV. Correspondingly, the informal learning, which contains e.g. the collaborative learning from colleagues, is often completely overlooked and not documented in organizations. Documents related to this cannot even be found from the bookkeeping, since this form of learning is completely free.
The traditional Learning Management Systems can help you to get started with the development and monitoring. However, what if instead of separate courses and trainings we would focus on how well our employees share their know-how inside our organization as well as on which ways of learning actually support the learning the most. It is 2015 and technology can aid us in doing everything previously mentioned and, moreover, it can aid us in making everything completely visible. For example a learning solution Valamis supports the collaborative learning and encourages learners for own activity as the information creators. With the help of Valamis, it is possible to monitor and follow-up which of the methods result in the best learning results and what kind of learning content makes the learning the most effective. Valamis also encourages the users towards informal learning and sharing of the content, which makes it easier to recognize the hidden talents inside the organizations.
Today learning happens everywhere and only the sky is the limit to how well we use the know-how inside our organization. However, it is out of special importance, that there is genuine interest in us towards the matter. Moreover, we need to believe that the most useful know-how relies inside our organization both now and in the future.