Just back away from the keyboard

I’ve been in the learning field awhile now (since the ‘90s) and I’ve seen trends come and go.  One thing that has been very prevalent has been the persistent rise of technology to create and deliver training.  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology.  I tweet, blog, and connect with the best of them.  But, it’s with purpose.  Lots of people I talk to are trying to figure out how to use social media for internal use – training and communications, but they start with the technology, not the intent.   I’d suggest that we all back away from the keyboard just for a moment to reflect.   Don’t fall into the “solution-in-search-of-a-problem” trap.   You know the one.  It goes something like this: “have you heard of Yammer?  It’s like Twitter but behind the firewall”.  Everyone’s using it.  But, without a good business rationale for using it, it is just another cool technology tool that might end up siphoning off interest from a less-sexy technology that could really make a big difference in terms of business results.  Here’s my best advice when you are faced with the latest techno who-ha, in 3 simple steps: 

  1. Find out a bit about it.  What does it do, who uses it and why. 
  2. List the “pain points” in your organization: low attraction rate, significant number of leaders poised to retire, ancient internal systems, etc.
  3. Test latest who-ha against your list of pain points.
    1. If there is a possible match, then you can explore the option of a tool such as this (partner with IT, let them help you sort through the technology aspects).  Find out if there are others in the market with similar technology, but be careful you don’t end up with a who-ha patchwork.  Not pretty.
    2. If there is no obvious match, then you can happily shelve the who-ha in question. 

You may now return your fingers to the keyboard!


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

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