There’s a battered old tin that lives on a high shelf in the kitchen full of useful stuff. Stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else, but which is too valuable to throw away. Stuff that you don’t use very often, but which when you do need it, you need it in a hurry. Stuff like nutcrackers, a puncture repair kit and superglue. Not things you use everyday, but the first place to search if you can’t find something important. Like the radiator key. Or the spare bulbs for the christmas tree lights.
When organisations look at learning, they often buy people the equivalent of shiny food mixers, professional knife sets and a fancy coffee machine. We invest in programmes and courses that are designed and marketed to effect big changes in skills, in knowledge, in behaviours, but we don’t often give them an old box to keep useful stuff in.
In organisations, we often rely on tribal knowledge, the un-codified wisdom of the group, on informal networks to convey the ‘stuff‘ that lives in the box. It’s not important enough to be taught formally.
Increasingly our personal learning networks are where this stuff can be found: they’re the first place we turn to when we have an odd question, when we need support, when we have a tough nut to crack.
Maybe it’s worth doing a little bit of research to map the different communities and spaces that exist within your organisation, to understand how many of them are formal, how many live in an old box. Do people feel equipped to find what they need? Does everyone know where the box lives?