“Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.” I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going – so far as I can tell – but it’s changing.This “remapping” of consciousness is changing my profession, too – corporate learning. At one time, a three-day sales workshop was no big deal. Now, as economic conditions worsen, leaders won’t pull the sales force out of the field. Instead, they simultaneously minimize lost productivity, leverage installed IT, and match shorter attention spans by inserting bite-size learning in tiny crevices of the workday. I’m not saying this is bad. It’s just what’s happening, and it has implications. Clearly, the Google search or equivalent has become a dominant way to learn. A need appears, a question comes up, my memory fails: Who was Vigotsky, anyway? I pull out the iPhone, key in the word, read for 47 seconds, and – oh yeah, Vigotsky – that Russian shrink who laid the groundwork for modern online learning. Yet this instant access to information compels me to ask, Whatever happened to transformation? The historic goal of corporate learning is productive action – application of new skills to boost bottom-line metrics and transform people and culture by realizing dormant abilities. And that question raises other, honestly non-rhetorical questions, some of which I list below – and none of which will likely be answered with a Google search:
- Does information alone bring transformation?
- Is a summary as good as a rehearsal?
- Is knowing the main precursor of doing?
- Does it really take three days to learn how to sell?
- In the future, will everyone be conscious for 47 seconds?