The Business of Learning

By Karl Houghton: Chief Editor

There have been many interesting conversations recently about management in general. One such discussion centred around whether the focus was on the management of people or goals.

Many observers in a Business will say “Why don’t they do this, or do that!” From a beginners perspective, this is often an arms length observation not taking into consideration a range of techniques which are mostly likely already being employed.

Just as a manager will have a host of experience and strategic competencies under their remit when positioning a Business to achieve targets, the act of Teaching and mentoring people, particularly groups, can also be considered a key leadership role.

Once an objective is decided, an educationalist will utilize a wide range of skillsets to engage the learners, and again, to a casual observer the techniques being used may not be apparent. It is similar to a psychologist utilizing skills to assess a client, often using psychological or constructivist theory. An inexperienced observer or participant will have very little to go on, but will efficiently be taken through the process nonetheless.

Whether a person is a leader or educationalist, they will be continually working on their canvas, developing their specific arena, each navigating through a range of aims to meet key objectives. What a Business person will call a goal, a trainer will call a learning outcome.

I believe modern Businesses have made some clear progress towards recognising the benefits of combining management competencies with traditional teaching and assessment methodology. After all, for the first 16 years of our lives we are taught how to learn and achieve the best we can, but upon entering the business world are expected to learn new things and achieve, but without drawing on any of the methodologies employed by our tutors.

This may seem somewhat nonsensical: and indeed it is.

In the modern world where business environments are often changing, especially at the moment, so communication alone is not enough to ensure progression, once again, we need to rely on a strong assessment and learning strategy. After all, assessment can come in many forms too, which again, the casual observer may not always realise.

There is one focus-inducing question to be asked by leaders and mentors:

“How do YOU know that they have understood your message?”

When a Business recognises the importance of having both managers and educationalist specialists working in unison for the same goals, we have an extremely powerful combination indeed; and if you have individuals who autonomously recognise, lead and promote this concept, you would do well to promote them. For those who block or hinder this concept, look closely at their performance, the environment they manage, and the labour turnover…their may be some need for performance review. Those businesses which have realised this only have to ensure reiteration, but also autonomy remain their key focus, and the results will begin to show.

In the absence of a key learning and assessment strategy, these results will often be of a non-conformance or non-compliant nature. It is a clear measurement, but unfortunately the horse has already bolted.

“Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.” Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

There is no psychic ability nor prediction of outcomes when it comes to the utilization of the full spectrum of learning resource execution, but instead a host of direct and indirect assessment, embedding and differentiation, all matched against key competencies, learning styles, personality types. These are offset by understanding that there is never one audience, there is often three…those present, those not present, and those affected by the outcomes; and as the means of instruction is not merely autocratic, we can determine our position by drawing on psychological practice to promote learning and iteration.

In recognising this, we also realise that if our manager and our educationalist did not have their own specific specialisms, there would not be entire schools dedicated to the subjects separately at University, nor studies written on the subjects, and so begin to see that the two work most effectively as one, either by combining skills individually, or by combining individuals into one effective team.
To the observers question, “Why don’t they do this or do that!” I responded, “How do you know they aren’t?”