In the 1940s, an intellectual movement based in Western Europe and North America started getting traction in fields such as architecture, the fine arts and philosophy. Leading thinkers in these areas, disillusioned by the bedlam and destruction brought about by the world wars, rejected existing scoietal norms and argued for a new approach to, well, everything. This school of thought came to be known as postmodernism.
In the past couple of decades, some decidedly “postmodern” traits have begun to appear in many corporate enterprises. These include decentralization and ambiguous hierarchy, diversity and complexity, and synthesis and interconnectedness. Or, as Czech President and intellectual Vaclav Havel put it, an environment where “everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.”
Does this sound like your organization? If so, how has that impacted learning strategies and initiatives?!@! It seems to me that one way in which it has affected employee development is in the rise of rotational assignments. Whereas an individual was once encouraged to either specialize in a particular area or proceed into management – in either case following a very defined career path – that model has become somewhat passé. Nowadays, high potentials are often moved laterally through varied parts of the enterprise, getting a wide range of experiences but also gleaning an understanding of how the figurative cogs in the machine mesh.
This is all heady stuff, but this kind of “postmodern” learning might fall away too, and soon. Right now, a new “post-postmodern” movement, which is marked by authenticity and transcendence, is gaining steam. We might already be seeing the learning manifestation of this mentality in gaming and simulations.
Do you see postmodernism or even post-postmodernism impacting your learning function? As always, you’re welcome to add questions, comments and criticisms below.
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