Status Quo Sucks. So sayeth George Carlin.
And you know, he’s on to something. I have yet to read about business success where the mission/value statement said something like “Keep Calm, Keep the Status Quo” or “Status Quo is the Backbone of Innovation”. Nope. Can you be successful and maintain the status quo? For a period of time perhaps; Woolworth, Blockbuster, RIM, all giants in their time – but because of a shocking lack of foresight, because of a steadfastness to the status quo that was their business model…well, you know how the story ends (or in some cases, how the story is likely to end).
Companies that bury their heads in the sand, thinking innovation will not outrun them, is not a new story.
I’m sure the buggy whip guy was a happy camper until that pesky automobile came out. But what does it mean to us? Those of us in the profession of education, adult or otherwise?
Status quo still sucks. I am always surprised by Learning professionals who still perpetuate workplace learning status quo. Excuses abound. I would love to innovate but…no money, no support, no technology, no time, “they” won’t let me. I could go on (y’all need new excuses). The classroom as we know it today has it’s origins in the beginning of the Industrial Age. The Industrial Age people! Certainly we can do better?
I have read and reread the blog post on “Meaningfulness” from Reuben Tozman. If you haven’t read it, you need to. The idea of bringing meaning to learning is not revolutionary on its surface. Yet surprisingly, it manages to shake up status quo. Why? Because there are those among us who are sincere in their belief that they are providing meaning to their organizations. The status quo is working just fine…thank you very much… – they would be surprised to find out they are wrong. Sadly, incredibly, undeniably wrong. They hold as gospel the smile sheets that state the employees enjoyed the event, they thought the presenter was great, students believed the information was useful and if asked would say “YES!” I will use this information every.single.day. LIARS. Enablers of L&D status quo and they don’t even know it.
Is the sound of status quo cracking? What would happen if you changed up the questions? If you asked questions that pertained to the actual learning, rather than the event? No – not asking about the learning objectives but asking if the workshop met their goals (not ours)? How about asking them, “Would you recommend this workshop to other colleagues?” or “If you had to pay for this workshop, would you?” These are the types of evaluation questions that mean something, that shake up status quo.
The dinosaurian design of formal learning events or corporate universities, is a post for another day. I will, however, challenge the overall meaningfulness. I challenge you to conduct a phone survey of a group who participated in a formal learning event longer than 6 months ago. Ask them what experiences stayed with them, or to pick one learning exercise they remember (no cheating!). Ask for one tangible example of how the session changed how they work. I double dog dare you. Perhaps it’s exactly that result that scares us? The truth may come out; we really aren’t being all that effective. Oops.
Based on those unimpressive results, the challenge in front of all of us is to think differently about performance learning and performance support, not just changing the design of a classroom layout or PPT templates, it’s not changing how we conduct role plays or how we apply instructional design elements – it’s a complete overhaul. Time for participant centric design. Group projects (before and after the class), crowd-sourcing class ideas, collaborative feedback sessions, using social tools to build and gather the learning curiosity of an organization – Break the glass people, leave status quo in shatters on the floor!
Status quo sucks.
It’s boring. It’s frustrating. It makes us stale and lazy as developers, as educators, as professionals. Our people, our organizations, deserve better and they will move forward without us, if they haven’t already. In the spirit of Kaizen make a change!
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