The Invisibles that Support or Hinder Learning

When organizations develop their learning programs, they look at what needs to be learned, their objectives. More enlightened ones don’t stop at things as irrelevant as “describe the 5 key characteristics of good leadership”; they look at objectives in terms of learner benefits and impact objectives back at work. “Develop the ability of leaders to get commitment from their employees to do what needs to be done for the team and the organization to succeed” “so that the organization works more effectively and efficiently and delivers on time and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders”. Unfortunately, the true impact and the benefits are often part of the invisibles to the designers and decision makers.
Once the objectives have been determined, a team of people either then design the leadership program, they purchase an “off the shelf” program or they bring in an expert to either do the training or support them internally in designing and facilitating as well as in building internal capacity.
Now that the program is designed or purchased and customized to an extent (hopefully), the result and the ultimate impact will be co-determined by the invisibles that most people neither consider nor design for.
What are the invisibles?

  • The limiting and enabling beliefs with which the learners come to the program and take back with them to work
  • The personal aspirations of each person and the extent to which the new behaviors and skills will enable them to achieve more of what they want in their lives and work
  • The degree of resonance
    • with the topic (how important is it perceive to be, how relevant and significant)
    • with the other participants (to what extent to I feel accepted, heard and included, is this my community, am I part of a greater community of practice
    • with the facilitator (do I trust the facilitator, does s/he hear me, see me, care about me and does s/he know what s/he is talking about)
    • with other priorities and people in my life (am I able to resolve any incongruencies within myself in relationship to the learning, to my role, to my organization, the team and what we are doing here and with the rest of my life and how I see myself)
    • with the beliefs and values I came in with (is this really who I am or want to be, does this agree with my worldview – and if not, am I willing to change my worldview)
  • The degree to which people feel safe in this environment and in the organization as a whole. Depending on how they perceive this, they will engage completely and honestly or they will withdraw and go through the motions
  • Each person’s ability to be present in the moment. If someone is distracted by what else is happening in their life, their concerns about work, the number of parallel projects on their mind, they will or will not be able to benefit from what happens.
  • The physical environment. What does the space enable and/or suggest? How does it impact the learning? Is there really enough time for what the learners need to learn? Does the room set-up allow interaction? Is there enough space so that each person feels comfortable and can move around? Is there enough food and beverage so that all physical needs are taken care of?

The Accelerated Learning process of both designing and facilitating takes the invisible factors into consideration – during the needs assessment, in the program design and the inclusion of pre- and post-work and support. In the coming newsletters we will explore various AL methods and processes for the needs assessment through post work and support.

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