LAS is an award-winning provider of elearning consultancy, design, development and training services in the UK and internationally.
Established in 2005 as LearningAge Solutions, we work with some of the best known organisations in the world to boost their performance through the innovative use of learning technologies. Working in partnership with our customers, we draw on proven principles from human behaviour, how people learn and how the brain works to create impactful digital learning solutions with real return on investment.
Rob is a designer through and through who is fascinated by how we learn, what we remember and why we pay attention to certain things. He is a huge enthusiast of all that technology can offer to enhance learning and has completed a huge variety of projects in his 14 year career.
He is the editor and co-author of The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual published by Wiley and featuring contributions from the brightest and best elearning minds on both sides of the Atlantic.
By Rob Hubbard
Published 11 May 2018
Look at the business environment five, maybe ten years ago; as much change as we perceived then, when you compare it to today, life seemed pretty stable. The pace of change now feels relentless. Increasingly we see organisations that are decades-old falter and stumble. Some manage to struggle to their feet again, others lie down and die. The business norms and behaviour of the past simply don’t work now.
In the boardroom, the directors are nervous. Faced daily by what looks like a churning wall of change, where to they turn? What do they prioritise? Where should be their focus? Many older organisations now need to change or die. Ever seen a hippo ballet-dance? When you’re large it’s difficult to be agile. The trouble is now; it’s a matter of survival. Technology is a disruptor yes, but also a great enabler.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed; we all do sometimes. Our day jobs are busier than ever and work inevitably bleeds into the rest of our lives. Like running up a sand dune; we never quite get on top of our work, or if we do, it’s not for long. A drowning man or woman has little time to think differently and innovate.
But we must. We need the time, headspace and clear vision to assess the technology. Better time management helps, as does our bosses prioritising thinking time. Allowing team members to lift their heads up from their daily work and look more widely at what they might improve.
Here are the four main approaches we take when assessing new technologies that we might use and innovate with:
1. Don’t believe the hype. The vendors of the shiny new technologies will promise you that they will save you time, make you more effective AND make you more attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. Look past the hyperbole and marketing messages to get to the truth.
2. Critically assess the new tech. Based on your knowledge of attention, memory, human behaviour and how people learn, consider where that technology might work and where it might not. If you use the lenses of science and psychology to look at the new tech through, you are more likely to assess it with a level head.
3. Try it out. Have a demo from the vendor yes, but also seek out existing users on social media. People are often happy to share their experiences. Get hands-on too. An expert-led demo is very different to getting your hands dirty and experiencing the learning curve (or cliff face) required to use the technology.
4. Run a pilot. Without investing much time, budget or energy; get the technology into the hands of the potential users. Even a couple of lunchtimes at the canteen guerrilla-style having a few colleagues get hands-on with the tech will give you a huge amount of insight. You users have the answer – ensure you ask them the question the right questions.
And who should undertake this? Indeed, you could pay a consultant to do this for you. Or better; look internally. Seek people who are naturally curious; who ask ‘what if?’ who daydream, who look at things differently. Where might you find them? Look for the tinkerers, the thoughtful ones.
Why not set up an innovation club? Encourage people to come together and investigate new tech that might impact your business. Mix it up; encourage multi-disciplinary teams to form in the club - have people work together who usually wouldn’t. Importantly, let them experiment and try things out – make it OK to take measured risks. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Innovation comes from taking one or more ideas from elsewhere and mashing them together somewhere new; and this is a messy process. From this new ideas and approaches are born. Innovation is an ongoing process, not a destination.