As global workforce productivity remains sluggish, many leaders—business and HR alike—are turning to new strategies to boost learners’ output and accelerate performance. One solution might be a workforce that generates and shares meaningful insights.
Consuming learning content and curated content is not enough; learners will need to know how to curate meaningful insights in order to make relevant contributions to business performance and productivity. In fact, 80 percent of respondents to a 2018 HR.com survey said that insight curation would be increasingly necessary by 2020—just a few months from now.
Figure 1: HR.com’s research shows that insight curation is regarded as a needed skill. Source: HR.com January 2018 Research Report: Workforce 2020: Building Today’s Talent to Meet Tomorrow’s Needs
The root of insights is information. The explosion of information, content, and data puts more knowledge at learners’ fingertips than ever before. In May 2018, Domo reported that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created each day—and that the volume is expected to continue to climb. But this explosion of information leaves learners overwhelmed with information and struggling to separate the signal from the noise.
Learners report challenges in distinguishing fact from opinion, an essential ingredient for informing and defining insights first, and executing critical calls to action next. Without insights and action, information is just that—and it quickly becomes obsolete, ineffective, and not useful.
Learners are failing to turn information into intelligence, and thus workplaces, though rich with information, are insight-poor. As such, it is no surprise that workforce productivity is weak, and business results are suffering accordingly.
The questions then become: What should we do about it? Why aren’t today’s workplaces leveraging insights?
A lack of shared understanding is one reason, and the lack of a learning process and framework for actionable insight generation is the second.
Defining an ‘insight’
Simply put, an insight is that “gee whiz” or “aha” moment, answering the proverbial so what question. It is based on evidence, and, more than that, it prompts action. Some even describe an insight as the power of acute observation, deduction, discernment, and perception generated when consuming any type of content.
When insights are generated, gathered, shared with others, coalesced into topics or themes that support business initiatives, and aggregated with specific and measurable calls to action, learner productivity is amplified.
Insight curation is workflow learning
Innovative and progressive learning leaders are keen on insights because they clearly see the business value—generating insights occurs while working, in the flow of work. In insight-driven organizations, employees curate insights from content they are already consuming, such as an email, a slide deck, an article, a video, a podcast, a scientific journal, or computer code—while they are working.
Insight curation isn’t learning that takes place outside of the normal flow of getting work done. In other words, insight formulation and sharing do not require a physical or cognitive separation from work. There is no need to leave work for a day or more to attend a class. There is no cognitive separation from work while an employee “mentally disconnects” to go look something up or revisit an eLearning module to recall how to get her work done. These physical and cognitive disruptors plummet productivity. We know that—we’ve all experienced it.
“New insight curation technology makes information available in the actual working context for every employee to aid them in becoming more expert to get their work done better and faster and inform business decisions with evidence,” Robert Danna, executive chairman of Pandexio, said in a discussion of how to effectively address the need to deliver in-the-workflow training for today’s three billion global active employees.
Insights give rise to productivity
While GDP might be growing, many employees are getting less work done. One way to improve productivity is to enable workflow learning. While many organizations are increasing their spend on training, according to LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, simply putting more money into training is not the answer.
We have to figure out how to shift from formal learning, classroom learning, eLearning, and blended learning to microlearning and insight sharing, moving learning into the workflow. Workflow learning starts with an insight curation platform that enables employees to consume content for the sole purpose of prompting "gee whiz" recognition of its value in solving the organization's unique business challenges. It assumes that sharing those actionable insights across the enterprise amplifies the expertise of all employees, one by one—all while getting work done.
So how do business, HR, and learning leaders get started? Try these three strategies to help employees elevate performance and boost and sustain productivity:
- Provide employees with an insight curation platform—a tool that facilitates workers’ access to content and information and enables them to gain knowledge and apply insights to solve business problems and get work done.
- Create an ecosystem where employees are encouraged and rewarded for collaborating and sharing knowledge and actionable insights that generate expertise among their colleagues.
- Enable all employees with the means to curate and share meaningful insights to amplify wisdom across the entire workforce—rather than relying on training courses and attaching documents to emails for employees to read. These approaches are not effective and lead to poor knowledge retention.
It’s time to take a stand and move from traditional learning and content curation to creating and enabling an insight-driven workflow learning organization to boost your organization’s productivity. Are you part of this movement? Can your organization afford not to be?