How to Stay on Top of Training Demand? Know the Alternatives

As a learning and development professional, I have often struggled with the question, "how can we keep up with the constant and increasing need for learning and demand for training?" Organizations of all sizes are moving so fast, that as soon as we finish learning something new about products, customers, a change in the competitive landscape, or how to use a new software system, something new comes along to replace it. New learning is once again needed. Learning professionals scamper to come up with a way to train people on the new thing. That's life in the L&D trenches. It is to be accepted and embraced.

However, there must be a better way, so we reach for alternatives to training, such as knowledge management, performance support, enterprise 2.0, collaboration, and/or social learning. We learn a little and dismiss it or jump on the bandwagon, but do we really know what they are and how they can help? Recently, I did some research on these topics, and while reading about each, I noticed many similarities. There seems to be a convergence occurring.

Read the definitions of each concept, and tell me if you see what I see:

Knowledge Management:

KM comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practices.

Performance Support:

A helper in life and work, performance support is repository for information, process, and perspectives, that inform and guide planning and action.

Enterprise 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 is the strategic integration of Web 2.0 technologies into an enterprise's intranet, extranet and business processes. Enterprise 2.0 implementations generally use a combination of social software and collaborative technologies like blogs, RSS, social bookmarking, social networking and wikis. Most enterprise 2.0 technologies, whether homegrown, free or purchased, emphasize employee, partner and consumer collaboration.


Collaborative software (also referred to as groupware, workgroup support systems or simply group support systems) is computer software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals.

Social Learning:

Social learning is what it sounds like—learning with and from others.

What do all of these definitions have in common? What are the differences? Can we come up with a new concept that applies the best of each of these and disregard the worst? What are the implications for the future of learning and development? Post a comment below.

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Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at well-known companies like E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable. In his leadership role at Knowland University, Bill focuses on helping clients get the most out of the products and services provided through a combination of guided and self-paced learning opportunities. He believes all learning experiences should be grounded in real-world application and designed to improve sales performance.

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