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Content Overload?

We are all overwhelmed with content.

The non-mandatory sections of corporate learning systems often go largely unused. Many of us go through our professional lives without ever being touched by the pearls of knowledge and inspiration that might make a big difference to our levels of productivity.

Three Obvious Things:

  1. People want to learn
  2. Their time is limited, and
  3. They want results

Most people have an interest in learning. Either they have a natural curiosity to be exposed to new and different ideas. Or, they have a strong desire to be better at what they do and recognise learning as the conduit to achieving those outcomes.

So…what happens?

Our jobs are demanding. In the ‘information age’ we are inundated with a constant barrage of new information. The news cycle changes within milliseconds. Social media demands our undivided attention. And our work is complicated with less resources to deliver. Often, we have no choice but to turn a blind eye to some of it and focus on what needs to be done vs. what we could learn to do things better. We survive instead of thrive.

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.” – Rose Kennedy

1). People want to learn

We love learning. Sounds obvious from someone who spends their time working in L&D. But I also remember feeling stressed by the expectations set to learn. Management sent emails about mandatory learning hours per employee to achieve a departmental goal. We’d get links to videos, white papers and newsletters and never read or watch any of them in full. We hadn’t lost the desire to learn. We’d lost focus.

Perhaps the more pressing question is do we know what we need to learn?

When you go to google, you know what you are searching for. You know how to read the results that come back, maybe you ignore the promoted results, or never look beyond the first page. But most of us have developed a method to quickly filter and extract what we need.

How does this look in a corporate landscape?

We need a good filter. We need to move on from the idea of more content for its own sake being an automatic value add and determine which of it is ‘useful’.

How different are LXPs (learning experience platforms) to LMSs (learning management systems) approaching this? One of the key focuses is data. Data contains a useful insight into what content is being used or needed. In other words, is what is there ‘useful’ and what is missing.

Go back to google and think of how and why paid ads or pay per clicks works, it is because the data is there to back up the thesis.

We need to delve into the learning data. Some analysis can be quite fundamental:

  • What are learners most searching for?
  • How many completions are there per learning asset?
  • What is the amount of time spent on a topic/asset?

But, really meaningful data requires more thought.

How useful is the content to learners for example, needs to be deciphered? What do we mean by useful? Useful now, or in the future. Really the key is impact. Is there a downstream improvement, is the knowledge being applied?

We’re keen to throw KPIs and benchmarks around and we need to do the same with our spend on learning.

Operational metrics, i.e. consumption, satisfaction, hours completed, modality, etc. are absolutely fine for reporting operational efficiency but that’s not where the story ends. There’s an exciting opportunity to connect the dots between learning, performance outcomes, and business results.

L&D professionals must recruit ROI metrics to demonstrate the uplift in business productivity and profit as a result of training initiatives and generate executive support.

2) Their time is limited

I recall many moments standing in front of teams of busy people. People who are measured for their output and whose jobs are stressful. I’d talk to them about things like coaching their employees. Positive communication. We’d spend hours and sometimes days practicing models and working through cases. The feedback was always the same. “Interesting concepts but not sure how to apply them.”

Whilst many continue to work from home the confluence of work and life have never been closer, and distractions are more apparent.

We need:

  1. Fast-Track courses

If a learner is experienced and or knowledgeable, the content should adapt to provide a shorter learning time.

2. Role-based learning

Content that adapts to the learners’ job requirements

3. Data-driven Learning

Stakeholders want more and better metrics from their learning. Detailed reporting on learning objectives, identifying trends, confidence levels, and awareness were all quoted as being of increasing importance. There is a general desire to get more from less in terms of learning, and data analysis can be a key driver towards this goal.

As my 11 year old daughter often tells me, ‘Dad – you could learn a lot from TikTok!’

And I think I am starting to get it. I’m not suggesting corporate learning will suddenly see us all making fools of ourselves on social media, BUT the UCG is worth a thought.

User generated content is what TikTok is built upon. Using existing technology on smart phones and quickly sharing ideas and themes.

Flip that concept into corporate learning, can we leverage this. SMEs sharing their 2 cents worth, quickly and easily? Recording a conversation in zoom and dropping it into a SharePoint or learning system.

Perhaps we all need to embrace TikTok?

3). They want results

We all want change that we can see and feel. We want results we can measure or evidence.

When you learn guitar, you learn a chord, go away and practice it. Often times in training, we teach the whole model or theory in a day and expect results! Isn’t it better to teach someone one small, simple technique they can practice over time? Isn’t it better to do one small thing every day than try to achieve ten big things and never get there?

And beyond this, maybe growth in learning depends on slow-thinking: the ability to go deeper into more complex problem-solving analysis, to expand our cultural understanding, including voices and perspectives beyond our own experience.

Learning and Development’s conventional purpose has been that of an ‘order taker’ when business determines a need, we’re there ready.

Ultimately this all comes back to content.

I’ll finish with an interesting metaphor from a blog by Thrive Learning

‘Think of your learning platform like a wardrobe. You might have the best walk-in wardrobe in the world, but a wardrobe isn’t valuable without the clothes to fill it. Even more, when you step into your wardrobe, you want to be able to find the clothes you need, when you need them’.

About this author

Matt Fotherby

Financial Markets, Compliance & Regulations

Matt Fotherby

Matt is our Founder and a passionate trainer.

His interest in education stems from his 10 years as an Account Executive looking after Global Hedge Fund and Asset Management clients. This led Matt to join the coveted Financial Markets Education team at UBS, a unique in-house education team that specialised in running a curriculum of financial market and product classes for both UBS employees and clients. Matt was responsible for building out the client offering; managing programs, creating content and teaching courses.

As financial markets entered a significant period of regulatory change Matt pivoted to take his client experience and market knowledge to focus on Regulations and Compliance topics.

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