Are you perfectly equipped for a world that no longer exists?

“Learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” (@AmSundell)


In a 2007 study carried out by a reputable legal academic organisation, 54% out of 486 respondents claimed that they could not envisage any more training to help them with their jobs in the next 10 years.

Let me say that again.  54% said they couldn’t see the need for additional training because they already had learnt everything they need to know to do their job, right up until 2017.

The world has changed a whole lot since then.  The entire legal landscape and, to a large extent, industry has changed too. There are a large number of firms struggling, and a number have gone.  The rest, if they’re not careful, will be “beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”.

The challenge here is that we can be sure that this malaise isn’t confined to the legal industry.  Many industries are bound in traditional “me too” solutions, maintaining the status quo and relying on what’s always been done.

I believe this should be challenged.  The tools used to train need to be replaced with tools, activities and systems to enhance, make better and solve problems.  In all my years involved in corporate learning, I found that the issue usually isn’t knowledge, it’s application and problem solving.

So how do we solve this. I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even have some of the answers. But I’ve got a lot of ideas.  Here’s three:

 1. Stop thinking of learning and development as an event.

Learning something is a process that takes time, effort and endurance.  Reflect that in your content.  Let the learners take delight in finding something new everyday, rather than one just one day.

2. Slay your sacred cows.

The wonderfully named Adobe Evangelist, Alan Partridge (I’m not kidding) once gave a talk to Media and Learning in Brussels about this and it really resonated with me.  Find out what are the things your organisation holds sacred but for which you can find no good reason.  These are the traditions and the “we’ve always done it this way” comments.  Find them, hunt them. And slay them. Prove them wrong, show a better way, a more enlightened way. A way that motivates and inspires your organisation to learn and grow.

3. Win permission slowly. 

If you try and change the world in one big go, you won’t.  Change the world or die trying leads to one eventuality: Death. To move your organisation beyond itself into new territory, you need to start really small, and do it well.  Prove that it doesn’t have to be the way it was. Prove in a small way that you can make a bigger difference, get a better result faster, by going your way.  If you do that, you’ll be able to do it better next time, as well as bigger.  Keep doing that and guess what, you’ve just managed to inherit the world, and you’re not dead.

If you want to be learned, that’s fine. You probably already are. But that way leads to mediocrity and irrelevance.  If you want to inherit the world, you better get learning…