I didn’t grow up camping. I never learned how to properly set up a tent (let alone rub two sticks together to make fire), yet I’ve managed to survive my third Memorial Day Weekend in a row out in nature. As we broke down our camp site on Monday, I realized that I learned everything I know about camping by simply spending time with my fellow campers, one holiday weekend a year, for the last three years.
Without these fellow campers, I never would have thought to bring an inflatable queen-sized mattress for the tent. I never would have learned how to make egg burritos without ever needing to clean up a pan (hint: it involves boiling water, eggs and Ziploc bags). I never would have learned that an inflatable, 2-person kayak is a great idea for people (like us) who don’t have much storage space at home and who don’t have a rack on top of the car to transport a more traditional kayak. I never would have learned how to play “Gaga Ball” for hours.
All of this learning about how to camp grew organically, by just having an opportunity to spend time with people who also go camping. No classes. No lesson plans. Certainly no PowerPoint. Just time and space to share ideas – best practices, new toys, new activities.
Providing Opportunities for “Informal” (Social) Learning
This reflection from my camping trip really reinforced the importance of L&D professionals identifying and providing space for people to share and capture new ideas outside of the formal training room. Following are several examples of what this could look like:
- Jane Hart recently offered a visual of the range of learning and development options that could be available in the modern workplace (beyond formal classroom training).
- Earlier this week, Melissa Milloway wrote about the collaborative power of a web-based tool called Slack.
- I’m in Seattle and I work with a group of managers across India. We’ve found WhatsApp to be an incredibly powerful tool that everyone can use to stay connected and find answers from their peers.
- Then there’s always old-school tools such as the water cooler or the lunchroom. I’ve written before about the reasons that learning and development professionals really shouldn’t eat lunch at their desks. Ever.
How are you creating space for people to learn from one another?