As I continue my exploration of using “lean” principles in the context of learning, it’s worth taking a look at what other people have been saying about it.
Over the past couple of years, a handful of organisations in the learning field have picked up on lean as an idea to consider.
In a June 2013 article in Chief Learning Officer, Joe Kuntner, Jonathan McCoy, Ray Pitts and Peter Talmers looked at it from the perspective of instructional design:
Conventional instructional design … can no longer solve the problem of bringing precisely the right information at the right time to the right employee. Information in today’s business world simply changes too rapidly, and the training and learning process is too slow to keep pace.
Their discussion centred on employees “pulling” information on-demand – Just-in-time, rather than just-in-case. This, combined with a games-based approach was cited as using a lean model.
I would argue that this is a very small way of thinking about lean. Where is the thinking about Value, Value streams, Flow, Perfection and Waste? The only principle that appears to have been addressed is that of Pull.
In an earlier CLO article, “How to create a lean learning environment” from June 2012, the focus is very much on Waste: “any training or learning activity that doesn’t directly help a learner perform better on the job“.
The author’s useful analysis of the different types of waste inherent in many training organisations is summarised as follows (my highlights):
Based on the Lean model, learning leaders shouldn’t be focused on teaching everyone; they should be concerned with teaching the fewest number of people the least amount of relevant information as quickly as possible.
The management consultancy “Habit of Improvement” takes a similar approach in their article “Why social learning amplifies lean learning“. The focus again is on the different types of waste found in learning contexts (my paraphrase):
Aaron Silvers (of xAPI fame) wrote about Lean Learning (“Continuous Improvement Means You Gotta Measure“) in June 2014. He’s started thinking about it from the point of view of using data (such as that you can get from xAPI) to practice “hypothesis-based design” – an iterative process of making better.
It would seem that the current thinking on applying lean principles to learning is quite limited. But I’m looking forward to exploring it more in the coming year.
Two events in particular are of interest:
Posted: 31 December 2014