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Workflow Learning: More Just-in-Time-Learning, Less Just-in-Case

Workflow Learning: More Just-in-Time-Learning, Less Just-in-Case

Employees are busier than ever before. The time spent training is time away from “real work”, and many organizations don’t know how to carve out time for their staff to learn. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that people learn a lot more by “figuring it out” on the job and talking to one another than they do from courses on the LMS. Workflow learning is a philosophy based on the idea that people are always learning while they’re working. It connects humans to their work with the goal to optimize business performance. The question we should be addressing is how to help do it more efficiently, connect employees to the right resources, and share their knowledge with colleagues. The good news is that there are now many ways for employees to learn in the flow of work, while at the same time sharing knowledge and building community.

In this session, we’ll introduce you to innovative ways to create an environment that allows employees to learn with and from each other “in the flow of work”, an approach that the modern learner expects more and more. We’ll begin the session with a look at real-world examples that showcase the workflow learning philosophy, (including just-in-time, spaced, and bite-sized learning) and how it can benefit your organization in achieving outstanding business performance. We’ll discuss ways to learn in the flow of work on your own, within your team, company wide, and outside your company walls, and talk about tools and apps you can use to support people in doing this. The best part is that we’ll show you tools that you either already have or can easily acquire with little to no investment of time and money. We’ll look at tools from the Microsoft ecosystem (MS Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, etc.) that allow you to make learning a habit, not a requirement. You’ll walk away with a new perspective and ideas for creative approaches to learning in the flow of work.


Mike Taylor

October 20, 2021


  1. Workflow Learning More Just-In-Time, Less Just-In-Case DevLearn 2021

  2. Matt Donovan Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at GP Strategies

    Mike Taylor Learning Consultant at Nationwide
  3. What brings you to this session? POLL/DISCUSSION QUESTION

  4. Agenda What is Workflow Learning? Why should we care? Workflow

    Learning in Action Success factors & next steps
  5. What is Workflow Learning?

  6. How do you define Workflow Learning? DISCUSSION

  7. Not a New Idea “Increasingly software will be task focused.

    Support for both task performance and learning will become an integral part of the technological environment” – Gloria Geary (1995)
  8. Ecosystem “workflow learning is how workers improve performance in a

    business ecosystem.” – Jay Cross 2004
  9. Performance Support “Workflow learning is embedding learning and support in

    the workflow to be accessed while doing the work.” – Mosher & Gottfredson
  10. Continuous Learning “workflow learning reflects a focus on continuous learning”

    – Josh Bersin
  11. Convergence vs. Divergence “Learning I need at the point of

    performance.” – Matt Donovan (Just now)
  12. Yes, but what IS it? Information Instruction Learning

  13. Shifting Focus FROM Formal learning Top-down approach Learning approach Knowledge

    focus TOWARDS Informal learning Bottom-up approach Performance Support Skill focus
  14. 18 NEW ROLES for the Connected Learning Organization MOMENTS OF

    LEARNING NEED 1. Learn-first time 2. Learn-more 3. Apply/Refine 4. Adjust to change 5. React to Failure EXPANDED LEARNER ROLES CONNECTED ORGANIZATION LEARNING ROLES 1. Learning Connectors 2. Learning Bridgers 3. Specialists for Coaching and Mentoring 4. Information Brokers 1. Consumer 2. Moderator 3. Curator 4. Contributor 5. Creator 6. Collaborator Inspiration from: Rob Cross’ Work on Collaboration Reference: “5 moments of Learning Need” Gottfredson & Mosher EMERGING MOMENTS • Innovate • Grow for Next Role
  15. Why should we care?

  16. Average shelf life of a business competency since 1984 in

    years 30 > 5 90% of Fortune 500 list in 1955 are gone Average lifespan of S&P 500 companies dropped since 1920 67>20 50% in the next 10 years, of all S&P 500 companies will disappear from the list Need for Learning Agility Exponential Organizations |
  17. The pandemic has dramatically increased the pace of change. A

    McKinsey survey showed that the pandemic had accelerated the overall adoption of digital technologies by three to seven years in just a few months.
  18. Course-based learning performance degrades rapidly over time.

  19. Lack of time for training LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 Workplace Learning

    Report Average is 1% or 24 minutes/week
  20. Learners want to learn at their own pace. 94% per

    Towards Maturity 2019
  21. Many prefer to learn at the moment of need 94%

    per LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report
  22. What do people do when they hit a roadblock in

    a task at work?
  23. “I ask the person beside me for the answer.”

  24. Fewer than half of respondents said their systems facilitate the

    sharing of learning with one another.
  25. “Workflow Learning is the democratization of learning.” – Mike Taylor

    (Just now)
  26. Putting the ‘flow’ in Workflow Learning

  27. Work + Flow

  28. Courses and other traditional approaches don’t cut it anymore.

  29. STOCK vs. FLOW COURSES Dated quickly Closed/Isolated Slow Inflexible Expensive

    WORKFLOW Dynamic Connected Quick/Agile Flexible “Free-ish”*
  30. Creation Knowledge Stocks How do these get refreshed? As the

    pace of change accelerates, the value of any stock of knowledge depreciates faster.
  31. Creation CONSUMPTION Publish Push vs. Pull

  32. Creation CONSUMPTION Publish Push vs. Pull

  33. CONVERSATION Creation CONSUMPTION Publish + external Knowledge + co-creation +

    Curation + TACIT Knowledge
  34. CONVERSATION Creation CONSUMPTION Publish + external info +co-creation + Curation

    Knowledge Flow continually refresh our knowledge by participating in relevant flows
  35. “We can’t participate effectively in flows of knowledge–at least not

    for long–without contributing knowledge of our own.” Harold Jarche
  36. #LTUK19 @tmiket

  37. How well does your knowledge travel? IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION FOR EVERYONE!

  38. What does it look like?

  39. Technology Human Network Individual Workflow Learning Components

  40. People MUST take accountability!

  41. How many L&D technologies are used in your organization?

  42. Think ‘Learning Ecosystem’

  43. @redthreadre

  44. Interactive Learning Technology Landscape Tool

  45. None
  46. It Starts With You

  47. Teamwork Happens Here High Velocity

  48. Company-Wide Visibility Conversations & Discovery across the org Working Out

  49. Outside The Company Walls gateway in and out of org

    Important to learn from outside
  50. None
  51. Microsoft Cortana & Viva

  52. What Do You Think? If you think about the core,

    the inner, the outer, and the open loop, what other tools do your employees use that you can leverage for learning?
  53. Goals Structure People Characteristics of a Learning Organization Create continuous

    learning opptys Promote inquiry & dialog Encourage collaboration & team learning Empower people toward shared vision Promote inquiry & dialog Establish systems to capture & share learning Provide strategic leadership for learning ↑ Organizational Knowledge ↑ Organizational Performance Adapted from Watkins & Marsick | Sculpting the Learning Organization
  54. Getting Started Meet with your team/audience Inventory the tools/apps everyone

    is already using Seek out how you can connect existing tools to augment and automate them Look for ways to enable the flow of knowledge/info Promote learning in the flow of work!
  55. 59 A traditional approach 1. Comprehensive WBT at launch 2.

    Job aids 3. User manual EXAMPLE: Expense reimbursement system rollout 16
  56. Example: Expense reimbursement system rollout 60 60 Moment of Learning

    Need Trigger Design Consideration Learn something for the first time System rollout 1. Light system overview 2. Performance demos of common expense reports 3. Where to get help for other moments Learn/do more of something 60-90 days First expense report 1. Pulse out tips and best practices from peers 2. Pulse out additional demos Apply and refine First expense report 1. Job aids easily accessible from system 2. Searchable set of tips and best practices 3. Peer network/wiki for sharing application and refinement practices 17
  57. Example: Expense reimbursement system rollout 61 61 Moment of Learning

    Need Trigger Design Consideration Adjust to change New code for an activity Need to find a specific code 1. Job aids easily accessible from system 2. Help desk support 3. Peer support network 4. Searchable set of tips/best practices provided by system owner and peer network React when something goes wrong Expense report is rejected 1. Searchable set of “What do I do when X happens?” 2. Help desk support 3. Peer support network 4. Searchable set of tips/best practices 18
  58. Apply 5 Moments of Need Moment of Learning Need Trigger

    Design Consideration Learn something for the first time Learn/do more of something Apply and refine Adjust to change React when something goes wrong
  59. – W. Edwards Demming It is not necessary to change.

    Survival is not mandatory.