In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of democratizing organizational learning. I argued that organizations need to be continuously learning for the purpose of improving performance and achieving business goals. And in another post I wrote that for this to happen, organizational leaders need tools. That is, they need methods for learning from the organization and for learning how to learn from the organization. I wrote, “If we are going to democratize learning in organizations, we need to teach everyone how to learn and how to use tools to discover useful information. We need to make learning tools accessible to all employees when and where they need them.”
Developers of organizational learning tools, whether they be faculty, internal leaders, or free agents, have very few outlets for getting those tools to the people who need them in a fast and cost-effective way. Major publishing houses take too long, cost too much, and have limited distribution channels. Penelope Trunk addresses this problem in her blog post, “From PR to profits: the problems with publishing.” One could challenge her motivation for writing the piece, but her criticism of traditional book publishing, from my experience, is accurate.
Many tools, such as employee surveys, graphical representations of models, or steps to solving organizational problems, do not require a book. These tools could be made available in shorter forms and without all the trappings of a best seller. However, simply posting materials on the author’s Web site is not the answer either.
Another avenue for distribution is professional associations. These guilds develop and sell their own materials as a major source of revenue. They often work with a select cadre of member-authors and the products can be quite pricey. The American Evaluation Association is an exception to this with their AEA365 blog, a vehicle for any member to post an article and links to related resources. It is intended to be a free exchange of information and tools among members. The Employee Engagement Network is another example of a place to share information about tools for improving performance, specifically by increasing employee engagement. Although both sites serve an important purpose, neither is designed for authors to publish tools or for managers to find what they need when they need it.
It is wonderful that many free resources are available within professional communities. However, an alternative is needed where creators of organizational improvement tools can distribute those tools quickly and easily to any leader when and where those tools are needed. And to make high quality tools available, creators must be compensated, even in a small way, for their expertise and effort. This is the space that my business partners and I hope to fill with Learning2BGreat.com. Anyone who has created materials that can be used for organizational improvement may sell their wares from the site. The author decides what it is worth and sets the price. Anyone who needs a tool to help them help their organization may purchase and download the appropriate tool from the site. The tools are organized in topics and linked to information about the authors. L2BG is a virtual marketplace for connecting professional resources with the people who need them, on-demand. This ecommerce site is an experiment that we hope will continue to grow and have a profound effect on improving organizations of all types.