Monday, September 6, 2010

Some Impressions of Wilson Textbook, Chapters 3, 5 & 6

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The Textbook Title: Human Resource Development...

[Re-posting from the internal Teachers College online system for my cohort, for whatever it's worth:]

All semester, I will relate the readings to my own job experience wherever possible, since I work for a corporation.

The three chapters were useful as an intro to the course because they position HR developers as change agents (Wilson, 2008, p. 57); the needed linkage between business strategy and HRD (Wilson, 2008, pp. 83-84); and refer to the learning organization as "...a process rather than a state," which reminds me of how business strategy works, too; it is never static (Wilson, 2008, p. 101).

Change management drives both learning organizations' directions and strategic direction, so it's a fitting first chapter of the trio, and I appreciate Burnes' comprehensive model, as up until this year at my employer, IBM, we'd been facilitating John Kotter's change model in our leadership development learning offerings. The most interesting part of the model to me was his distinction between Information and Communitcation (Wilson, 2008, p. 51).

I was also happy to read about PWC's Change Integration Team as foundational (Wilson, 2008, p. 46) because IBM's now moved to that Change Integration Team's concept of Better Change.

Finally, I saw a connection between the Theories E & O (Wilson, 2008, p. 47) and the potential tensions that a learning organization model could cause: While a company's top management might think that it was promoting Theory O by encouraging informal learning and communities of practice, a number of employees could interpret it as Theory E. This possibility came to me as I read the chapters: A company might be so proud of itself for encouraging grass-roots, peer-to-peer learning, thinking it was being progressive and empowering employees/promoting autonomy while a number of employees might interpret the encouragement as a cost-cutting tactic, e.g., fewer formal learning programs (which cost the company money to develop and run), and more informal opportunities, which cost the company no additional money beyond employees' salaries.

P.S. I just re-read the final paragraph and want to mention that I'm an agent of online social learning among peers and see it as a sign of Theory O, but I know a number of people across a number of companies who focus on the cost piece and are a bit bitter as a result, i.e., they think their employer is being cheap, rather than that their employer is promoting innovation and autonomy.

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