Today we are in a knowledge economy and upgrading employee’s knowledge portfolio is the most important investment companies can make. But in this obsession for learning, our industry is spending a lot of money and is very heavily relying on formal learning.
Companies fail to realize 75% of actual learning comes from informal learning. Learning happens as the learner creatively adopts and adapts to ever changing circumstances. Its important to acknowledge that informal learning is crucial to learning how to do anything.
According to a study of Time-to-Performance done by Sally Anne Moore at Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 1990s, and repeated by universities, other corporations, and even the Department of Health and Human Services, following image graphically shows the disparity between formal learning and informal learning.
In “At the Water Cooler of Learning” article by David Grebow, he explains this graph with a very nice example.
IMHO formal training might be a good start, but deliberate practice on pet projects and on real world projects is the source of real learning. Necessity is not just the mother of innovation, but learning too.
To amplify your active informal-learning, make sure you:
- spend enough time at the water-coolers in your office
- attend user group meetings
- participate in online forums
- follow interesting people on twitter
- regularly read other people’s blogs (and source code)
- leverage all the Web 2.o Social Media forums
- attend a conference (esp. open space or workshop based conferences)
- and so on…