Chickens, Eggs and Harvesting Wheat

Posted by Bob on 2 March 2016

Previous posts have discussed how the 70:20:10 framework influences improved learning outcomes through its focus on enabling performance rather than monitoring learning. The framework encourages increased involvement by leaders and experts operating in the workplace who, through coaching and mentoring directly, facilitate a supportive working experience with a reduced cost environment.

This post centres on two additional important benefits. The first is a performance culture. The second is knowledge sharing.

Performance Culture

As a result, the impact on working culture is positive, but how does this manifest itself about benefits from a broader organisational perspective.

The essential elements are the realisation that work and learning is tightly coupled and acceptance because of constant change, that this is incessant. It’s a constant. So, is this about developing a culture of improved performance or a culture of continuous learning? There’s a bit of what comes first, the chicken or the egg but, for me, it’s really about a culture of improved performance brought about by continuous learning. The result is that improved performance at the individual level translates into improved business performance.

In this context, improved people capability to meet expected levels of productivity, agility, responsiveness and resilience within a tough market place is what will make a difference, and benefits a business takes notice of! A learning function that is dependable, and has progressed from having an operational or transactional outlook to one that is transformative oozing strategic worth, will have a voice which is heard and respected.

Knowledge Sharing

A willingness to share knowledge is revealed as 70:20:10 becomes embedded. People share knowledge when they feel respected, when their know-how is acknowledged and when they can see their knowledge being used in a positive way.

It sounds a bit like a cliché but the sharing, creation and application of new knowledge is essential to the survival of almost all businesses. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Information and creative approaches to cost reduction are taking a growing share of global trade from the traditional, tangible goods of the manufacturing economy.
  • It’s very likely that the only sustainable competitive advantage is continuous innovation through the application of new knowledge.
  • There is a trend to not take a job for life which means that when someone leaves, organisation knowledge walks out of the door with them.
  • Organisations rarely “know what they know” and this is exacerbated if expertise in one part of an organisation is not leveraged in another.

I like to think of knowledge and the use of knowledge as a harvest of, let’s say wheat. In the first instance, the environment is prepared, the rocky bits are tossed out, the growing surface is ploughed and made ready and, below the surface, fertiliser is watered in to provide a sustainable crop. Next comes the seeding. Individual seeds are encouraged to grow with the right conditions and the right nutrients. Strong growth follows; the wheat learns to stand straight while it sways in the breeze, ready to be reaped and eventually turned into food for many to thrive on.

A well planned strategy sets the scene for a workplace environment that delivers high yield harvesting of knowledge and wide-spread and embedded use of that knowledge.
And so, in context of this analogy, knowledge is harvested and distributed and this happens in one of two ways. The first is through “informal” processes where people share what they know; people listen to what they say, use what they say and do what they do. The second is via more “formal” processes, where experts feel motivated to share and provide knowledge as a mentor or as a coach.

Is one more important than the other? Well, it depends, but what is important from a 70:20:10 perspective, are the conditions surrounding the growing of knowledge and its harvesting. Unless the work/learning environment is fertilised, fed and watered, through sharing know-how within a performance culture and continuous learning, knowledge growth won’t happen and then there is nothing worthwhile to reap, except broken eggs!

Wouldn’t be great if:

  • Questions only had to be answered once and genius could be captured and shared securely within your organisation
  • Employees were socially rewarded for sharing their expertise and asking intelligent questions
  • HR could map engagement and easily recognise self-starters and future leaders
  • Employees could intuitively draw on a central pool of business knowledge when and as they needed it
  • It was possible to smoothly transition from knowledge silos to knowledge sharing
  • You could enable a geographically dispersed team or sales force with new product knowledge and a forum to collaborate
  • It was easier to multiply the benefit of formal training

FUSE can. Take a look right now.

Robert Spence

Robert Spence is a Learning Consultant at Cadre and brings to the table a wealth of knowledge gathered over 32 years in the field of computer enabled learning. A thought leader on all matters relating to corporate training he keeps the team focussed with a pragmatic approach and emphasis on performance and professionalism. Although he technically retired from full-time work in 2007, he confesses that he never did quite manage to “hang up the boots” and since then has worked closely with Cadre doing what he loves best: managing and inspiring creative people, fostering engagement and helping them to reach their potential. His contribution to the field of learning has even been recognised with the recent launch of the Learning Café’s Bob Spence Award for Innovation in Workplace Performance.