Lesson Learned: The Learning Ecosystem

This week’s topic comes to us courtesy of Marc J. Rosenberg, Ph.D., management consultant, author, and training and organizational development expert. I was only recently introduced to Marc’s expertise and quickly became a fan. The first writing I read by him was an article titled, “In Learning and Performance Ecosystems, the Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts”. Yes, that’s a mouthful, and the ideas put forth are just as packed.

Building on the early definition of an ecosystem as “a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment”, Rosenberg defines a learning and performance ecosystem as one that “enhances individual and organizational effectiveness by connecting people and supporting them with a broad range of content, processes, and technologies to drive performance”.

Two important points emerge: 1) learning is not simply formal structured training (classroom or online) but an integration of multiple methods, what we might call “non-traditional”, and 2) learning has a purpose, and in the context of work, that purpose is enhanced performance.

 Rosenberg identifies six (6) primary components of a learning and performance ecosystem and the goal for each:

Structured Learning: learning for the sake of training, certification, or compliance

Social Networking and Collaboration: sharing to encourage exchange of knowledge and ideas

Knowledge Management: research to provide easy and reliable access to information

Access to Experts: consulting to leverage expertise

Performance Support: get a job or task done to improve productivity and reduce errors

Talent Management: advancement, workforce management and development

If this sounds vaguely familiar, recall the “Five Moments of Need” introduced a few weeks back – a framework for helping learners become and remain competent in their individual and collective work to learn something new, something more, to apply, to solve or to change.

What can we take from this? Well, here’s my take:

Learning is not an individual, isolated activity. Learning is a collection of activities and learning is about the collective. Successful learning is a group effort. Learning is about communicating and building relationships. Learning is flexible and adaptive. Learning adds value!

Sometimes you’re the student and sometimes you’re the teacher and sometimes your role isn’t so clear. What’s important is that you recognize you have a role. You are an integral part of your ecosystem and can have tremendous impact on its success and outcome.

Reference: “Marc My Word: In Learning and Performance Ecosystems, the Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts” by Marc Rosenberg, Learning Solutions Magazine, October 14, 2014