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ATD Blog

It’s time to let go of control


Fri Jul 17 2009


Let's be honest, our profession is full of control freaks, people who are not half as concerned about sharing data as they are about protecting their data. The first question I get when I give presentations at ASTD conferences is usually not "great, how can we leverage social media, games and virtual worlds to improve performance?" Instead, I get inane questions about: "How can I be assured that our data is safe on an iPod?" or "How do you know that no one is eaves-dropping on your conversation in Second Life?" or "How can we keep people from wasting their time on a social network?" Since when did the learning profession become an extension of the IT security department?

I have to resist the urge to jump up and down and scream: Don't you get it? Your job is to let information free, not to hoard it, your job is to UNshackle your employees not to shackle them,youshould be concerned about obscurity instead of security,you should bebreaking the rules instead of enforcing them,you should be busybuilding communities of practice instead of Berlin Walls. If you don't stand up for the new generation of workers who will insist on learning from their peers, who will?


T he hardest part about next generation learning is giving up control. In comparison, factors like "technology," "user adaptation," and even finding money, are the easy parts of learning innovation. Getting training professionals to loosen up and lighten up, that's a different story. After all, we're asking people who make a living by talking to shut up.We're telling youto get out of your faculty cloak, get down from the stage, turn off the microphone, shut down the projector, stop dumping meaningless trivia and quizzingpeopleabout this nonsense ten mintues later, and shut down that LMS, the ultimate instrument of control. Instead,youneed to join the conversation and help people link new insights to the their daily experiences through peer-to-peer conversations. Even if that means letting people show up to a virtual worlds businessmeeting as a fish, which you can do at IBM, encouraging all employeesto write apublicblog, which Sun Microsystems is doing, ordollingout free recording equipment to anyone that wants to record their own podcasts, which Microsoft is doing. It's time we all let go of control and begin trusting people.

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