The business of a business is to bring change to the world.
This adage was one of the key principles behind Daniel Kahneman’s inferences in his acclaimed ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’.
And rightly so.
If you step aside from the daily rigmaroles of your work and think about the real purpose of your job, it would most certainly boil down to changing behaviors and attitudes at scale.
That’s the promise of every new product and service introduced in the capitalistic winds that power our economic engine.
That marketer shilling organic water.
That coder punching away hundreds and thousands of lines of code to help you…ermm…fly your car.
That service which helps you break up without confronting the damaged party.
What’s the common thread between all these esoteric offerings?
They are trying to change existing behaviors and cultural norms. Be it red or blue oceans, every product and service is either in the game to change your existing preferences (Pepsi vying for Coke’s market share) or build new habits that you did not consider earlier (Uber taking on the cab industry)
And if a business fails to do that, it may cease to remain in it for long.
If you are a part of the national productive population, you are bringing change to the world
Being employed to execute a set of strategies and tasks is an implicit sign that you are adding to the nation’s productivity.
And doing that means you are a part of a very large community that’s doing its bit for mass change.
Which leads us to another pertinent question
What sets you up for success in your quest to change the behaviors and attitudes of the segment of customers that you serve?
There are many axes to cover if we were to answer this question thoroughly but let’s talk about perhaps the most foundational aspect.
Your L&D strategy exists to assist your employees drive the change your business stands for
Each stage of the employee lifecycle is an opportunity for L&D teams to build an enabling ecosystem that powers employees to introduce currents of change that the business works for.
Each time an L&D team intervenes, right from onboarding to separation, they are working overtime to find ways for enabling hordes of employees to move the change needle for their customers.
Two examples of such interventions that spark change are
- Helping employees absorb the nature of product ingredients so that they can pitch these differentiators for a successful switch to the brand
- Helping a group of knowledge workers document their learnings from a key project for better business process optimisation
And so on. At the heart of every business initiative is continuous change – internal or external.
And with that, we need to address the elephant in the room – your employees have an identity outside work too. Which means that work and life issues occupy comparable real estate in their cerebral lobes.
A preoccupation with life issues along with constantly shifting directions in the business landscape make it near impossible to ensure that your key business process drivers are well entrenched in the collective employee cognitive quotient.
A shift in business strategy. New competitive forces. Emerging cultural vectors. Derailing personal issues. Shifting customer consciousness. The list of problems to tackle for individuals and groups goes on and on.
What these limitations do is accelerate business forgetting – the natural process of forgetting the concepts of change drivers for your customers because of too many unrelated forces that hijack the human brain.
Some folks prefer to call it ‘lack of focus’. Others might term them ‘distractions’. Call them whatever but the singular observation is this – humans forget 97% of what they have learnt about a new subject inside 30 days if there is no applied reinforcement of the subject.
There is even a graphical representation of the phenomenon, called the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve.
Here is how it looks like
Humans forget 98% of what they learn inside 30 days if they do not find avenues to apply the newly learnt knowledge (Source)
So that you can work against forgetting forces, you must understand the limitations of the human mind’s attention span.
And why microlearning is your Sherman Tank in the pursuit.
What is microlearning?
As opposed to the traditional classroom setting where a subject matter expert huddles with a group of participants and elevates them in their knowledge of the subject matter, microlearning is a ‘differentiative’ approach to learning.
Just as how differentiation in calculus means splitting up a curve into its constituent areas and adding their individual areas together, microlearning splits a larger macro learning agenda into its individual, unique topics to focus on them one at a time.
Differentiation in calculus is the study of area under a curve. Here, learners measure the area of different blocks that make up the whole area. Similarly, microlearning also splits a large macro concept into its individual concepts and focuses on them separately.
An example to elucidate applied microlearning are the various courses over Lynda.com.
Here’s how course creators have split the various micro concepts of MS Excel into parts, focusing on each concept as a different entity.
Short bursts of learning focussed around micro concepts is the essence of microlearning. Here we see applied microlearning in the realm of teaching MS Excel
Remember how we explored the tangent of business forgetting and how it is enemy #1 in your company’s pursuit of driving external change?
Each of these business activities have a myriad of interconnected concepts that are equally critical to master for the process to function smoothly.
The fact that you are working with an attention span that is shorter than that of a goldfish is the reason why employees forget key steps in their execution playbooks. Or when humans tune out of a talk after 10 minutes.
(Is this the reason why each of the Lynda modules in the example above are shorter than 5 mins? We sure hope so)
To master each of these concepts so that the sum is greater than the parts is the precise utility of microlearning. By keeping the subject matter short and focussed, instructional designers are merely playing along the laws of human attention.
The road to change is lined with trade-offs. In this case, large parts of traditional macro learning have to be substituted with microlearning initiatives just because of their bite-sized nature that appeals to the human psyche.
And moreover, it works.
Microlearning Platforms: What would be your Mjolnir?
Recent industry roundups report about 95 microlearning platforms vying against each other for L&D budgets.
Like all industry chasms, only a handful of applications are truly meant for business usage. The following section takes a look at these, their pros, their cons and will help you make an informed decision.
(Disclaimer: the author works at RapL)
Like most platforms, RapL ticks all the needed boxes to execute a microlearning strategy – an intuitive content creation module, a dopamine releasing gamification flow, and programs that are meant for spaced repetition.
Where RapL goes above and beyond is the granular detail at which you can analyze the specific topical areas where individuals AND teams need help.
For example, here is a specimen of how RapL reports knowledge gaps at various levels inside the organization.
A report that tracks company-wide progress that can be extracted at an individual, group or organization level.
RapL also supports multilingual capabilities and with expert customer success personnel that help you with a strategy (if needed), RapL positions itself as a software + knowledge provider for all things microlearning.
RapL has extensive use case coverage across multiple industries like Automotive,BFSI, Healthcare, Hospitality, Retail, IT and Logistics.
With its cloud-based authoring tool, EdApp, enables you to create interesting microlearning content. From mobile LMS, course library to microlearning app, edapp provides you various solutions to train your workforce and provide them with relevant and compelling content. The platform can be easily integrated with your existing LMS solution. The base version of the app is free, however additional features and functionality are paid.
A microlearning platform that complements existing HR and learning tech systems. They focus on the science behind the forgetting curve, which serves as a backbone for the organization. With a unique set of questions and answers, Qstream follows a spaced repetition methodology that fights the curve of forgetting in order to make employees more efficient and drive businesses.
A LMS solution built specifically for the frontline workforce. Anonify makes it simple to run your training courses from onboarding to compliance training to tracking. Messages can be sent to all employees within seconds conveying critical information and managers can track the progress of their frontline workforce on a day- day basis. In addition to this, the personalized learning modules also incorporate games and other challenges to keep the frontline employees engaged.
Instant creation of content with just 7 taps is this organization’s trademark. This platform allows you to create and deliver engaging micro content in just 15 minutes. With a simple to use UI, anyone can create micro courses and extract a detailed report of the user engagement via this app.
There are numerous microlearning platforms out there, each with unique features and advantages. Make sure to take your organization’s needs and goals into account when choosing. Then evaluate various applications to see which one best suits your needs. Let microlearning pave the path for new business growth.