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Pull, Don’t Push, Employee Learning

S. GillStephen J. Gill is a contributor to The Business Thinker magazine.
He is an organizational learning consultant, he facilitates a workshop for ATD titled, “Essentials of Developing an Organizational Learning Culture”, and he is co-founder of Learning2BGreat.com, a resource for creating and sustaining a learning culture in organizations. He publishes a blog at: http://ThePerformanceImprovementBlog.com
DavidDavid Grebow, Chief Executive Officer of KnowledgeStar, is a nationally recognized expert in creating organizational cultures that optimize learning. David is the co-founder and former director of the IBM Institute for Advanced Learning in Zurich and one of the co-authors of Creating a Learning Culture. For 25 years, Fortune 500 companies have employed him to assess the value of their current educational strategies, and create a forward-looking sustainable approach that positions them for success in the Idea-driven digital economy.

The major change in business today is the rate of change. For example, it used to be that the time between conception of an idea and market acceptance was five to seven years. Now a new car model goes from idea to market in 24 months. “Internet time” is just a few months for most things. My public offerings of JP Industries used to take months or years. Now, crowdfunding can raise millions of dollars for a new business in a few weeks. – John Psarouthakis

As the digital revolution continues to fuel the faster rate of change, transforming all aspects of business, from supply chain management to communication, the highest-performing corporations are abandoning traditional “push” training for the “pull” learning model.

Push training is a centralized, top-down model that occurs when management determines what it is people need to know or do and ‘pushes’ educational programs out from a central training group. It’s going to a class or taking an assigned online program.

“In a push training model, learning is test-based. It is all about what you know.”

The push training culture was developed to serve the old Industrial Economy that no longer exists. Long before “Internet time”, producing products and delivering services changed slowly. The shelf life of both, compared to today, was almost glacial, and most workers did not need to learn volumes of information to perform their jobs. Despite the change from the Industrial to the Knowledge Economy over 100 years ago, the vast majority of organizations are still pushing out training to employees the same way now as they did then.

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