In our increasingly connected world, time and attention are becoming as important a consideration as the actual dollars spent on new initiatives. Businesses are expected to do more with less, and the result is a decrease in time to devote to initiatives around learning and development, employee engagement, and strategic planning. Carving out time for meaningful conversations is an essential practice for team leaders who want to see improvement in their deliverables and culture.

“1% of a typical work week is all that employees have to focus on training and development” -Bersin by Deloitte

In practical terms (and assuming a 40 hour work week for most employees), this translates to just 24 minutes a week, or a little over an hour and a half each month, total. No wonder then that day long sessions—even half day sessions—are getting harder to justify. We are all living in a time where the pace of work is fast (and accelerating), and occurs in a constantly changing landscape. Individual learners, managers, and organizational decision makers alike are looking for more immediately practical, shorter time-burst learning. Micro-learning, or thin-sliced learning as you have likely heard it referred to, is on the rise.

Compounding the “we don’t have enough time” challenge, is the reality that learner expectations are different than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Clients are increasingly demanding new ways to integrate learning into their day-to-day operations. In other words, time pressures and constantly shifting business challenges are leading to a demand for context-driven and immediately applicable learning moments.

Organizations are less interested in broad based theory that might be applicable someday, and much more so in smaller bites of learning that are immediately applicable to something the session participants are wrestling with right now. For consultants, this means that face-to-face gigs are getting harder to land. Day long sessions cover too much content to immediately apply, while 60-90 minute sessions (what learners really want) are logistically cost prohibitive. Many of the consultants that we work with are finding it difficult for their clients to justify the day rate cost of classroom-style learning.

When you introduce the well-documented reality that manager led learning allows for immediate applicability and a more engaged workforce, the alternative solution seems obvious: put tools in the hands of the team leaders that enable them to drive context-rich, micro-learning moments within their own teams, then make it easy for them to sustain the learning through one-on-one coaching conversations.

But where does the consultant fit into the mix?

As technology further entrenches itself in workplace learning, it’s becoming more obvious to me that independent consultants will become redundant or more relevant, depending on their response to that technology. If they choose to ignore it, and continue to go about offering onsite, classroom style learning sessions, they will find themselves in an increasingly crowded market, fighting over their slice of an ever diminishing pie. But, if they work to leverage technology, analyzing the data and insights from a learning platform and then layering on their expertise and insight, they can create an entirely new level of value for their clients—one that not only works in harmony with technology (and allows for more leader led learning and micro-learning structures), but also allows themselves to scale beyond trading time for dollars, thereby expanding the maximum potential of their business.  

Like all industries disrupted by technology, there will be those who are made redundant and those who become more relevant by adapting their sales to adjust to the changing winds.

Working within that 1% of time that is available for learning and development in most organizations, Actionable Conversations are able to deliver measurable results. We understand that time and attention are at a premium in today’s hectic, and constantly changing, business landscape. By leveraging this fact as an opportunity, as opposed to an obstacle, we allow our consulting partners to stay relevant in a hectic, shifting market.

This is part two of our four part series on trends in learning, which we refer to as the “Shifting Learning Landscape.” Read part one, on The Need for Learning ROI.