Are your learners in the right state of mind?
In this business, we talk a lot about strategy, delivery methods, content, enterprise goals and learner preferences. We talk about environments: the one in which our business exists and the one in which our learning and development lives and is accessed — not to mention the environment of the organization itself. Still, how often do we think about what these environments and others mean forthe learner and their minds?
Increasingly empowered by science and technology, organizations can not only peek into human behavior — with a lot less ease than large-scale scientific study — but also use insights about behavior to their tangible or intangible benefit. Creepy as that might sound, such actions are smart. They make sense. You’ve got to know whom your consumers are to lay out plans to effectively reach them, to get them to convert or buy in to what you’re selling.
So in this business of learning, where the business is engaging the mind, it’s critical that those responsible for learning and development start to really think about what’s on their learners’ minds.
That doesn’t mean anything invasive — though the idea of knowing what makes everybody around me tick is quite amusing. At a minimum, though, it means understanding what we already know about learning, as well as knowing what factors help that learning really stick and what distracts from that process.
A growing and firm body of work speaks to the role relationships, experiences and environments have on a child’s early development and their ability to learn and be school ready— the power of the outer world greatly influencing what happens on the inside: what’s encouraged to connect and manifest and what, due to neglect, is denied access to the light of day. So what then of the adult mind, of the adult learner whose brain development is likely almost complete? Environment — inner and outer — still matters.
A stressed-out office culture doesn’t bode well for the state of mind workers need to be productive, let alone able to really grasp the learning you’re delivering — no matter how beautifully wrapped, responsive or micro it may be.
We can never assume to know everything that lives in the minds of the people who keep our organizations going, nor can we control those hidden things. But leaders can examine the cultural and experiential components that make their organizations what they are, and line them up against their workforce’s disposition — often gauged through surveys.
How an organization shapes up in these surveys influences the workforce’s state of mind. That can make a difference to learning.