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We have more than just a hammer in our tool box

If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’

(Manslow’s law of the instrument).

hammerIt is easy to say a hammer is not always the best tool for a job, yet people and organisations often try to use the same method to fix everything… often without considering other options.

Structured training courses or online modules are not the only way for organisational learning and strategic problem solving.

If we can invest time in identifying root causes or requirements and then thoughtfully choosing a solution for the problem (which may or may not include structured training, technology or tons of information as a part of the answer) we can try to create a solution that relates strongly to the outcomes we want to see, in the most cost and time efficient way.

We also know that individuals learn in many ways, from many sources. We use experience from ‘on the job’, practice, self study, research, our social networks, you tube videos and ‘ask google’. Ideally, our learning solutions would take advantage of the way people are learning, integrating directly into their day-to-day activities and work rather than being a stand alone add on that takes longer to access.

In the public safety sector we utilise large amounts of structured learning, both face to face and online. This is likely due to the number of skills and knowledge required for base level proficiency, and because of the level of compliance to meet safety requirements, legislation and national competencies.

Yet we are starting to see instances of technology and training being implemented in a targeted and thoughtful way to address specific or strategic problems.  Some recent examples:

  • A fire service regional office have been developing video that members can access via a QR code on a piece of equipment to revise how to operate it.
  • A State Emergency Service corporate section has developed instructional videos supporting use of software for specific tasks that are needing to be completed by members.
  • An ambulance service has changed their supplier for equipment to eliminate root cause of user error and used an online memo to update everyone, while another uses a closed social media platform to collaborate and improve understanding of the latest clinical pathway updates.

The best thing about some of the great ideas we hear about are that they do not need to be costly and they do not rely on expensive or prescriptive systems. People are finding ways to make it work with existing systems or free systems. They are also ideas that reduce the amount of time individuals are required to spend to access the knowledge or skills development they need. Concepts can also be applied across different areas or organisations. They can also tie learning to measurable KPIs.

This approach to learning and training is considered by many to be part of creating a learning ecosystem. There is a lot of research and discussions about this concept at the moment, usually also linking to the 70:20:10 model and to online learning systems. If you want to do some further reading, we recommend you check out:

Sprout Labs: Learning while working



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