Book review: Informal Learning at Work
Reading time: 2 minutes.
I’ll admit it. I didn’t want to read this book. I put it off for a long time.
Some of it was an unfounded feeling of intimidation knowing Paul’s passion and relentless approach for improving L&D practice. Some of it came from a lack of confidence in my own practice and some imposter syndrome that feared me being exposed by seeing how I ‘should’ be operating.
No need to worry. In the second of the trilogy, and across 222 pages, Paul strikes a balance between evidence-based research, practical application and interviews from those in the proactive day-to-day, encompassed in his accessible style and structure.
It’s short, sharp and ‘does what is says on the tin’ chapters encourage you to pick this back up and drop back in as and when you need that reminder or example to spur your thought.
The book takes you through individual topics that sit under the banner of ‘Informal Learning’ and weaves them together to include the important contexts of performance, the agile learning organisation and managing your ‘learnscape’.
If you’re looking for something to provoke thought in your own practice you’re in the right place.
What’s clear it that informal learning does not, and should not, just ‘exist’ within the business or sit in a bubble owned by someone, no one and everyone at the same time.
This is a book you don’t need to hold a PhD to understand, nor is it a book that is written to only cater for those new to, or interested in, L&D. In an area where I’ve struggled to find the middle ground of books between high-level overview and 500 page academic tome this strikes the happy balance for people looking for that happy balance.
If you’re looking for the ‘this is the only way to do it’ of informal learning I’ll be honest, you’re in the wrong place.
If you’re looking for something to provoke thought in your own practice, offer multiple examples and options as well as practical things to carry out on your organisation, you’re in the right place.
It’s boosted my confidence, eased a few anxieties and challenged my own thoughts on how to develop my profession and become a valuable part of learning and performance where I work.
Pop it on your bookshelf between ‘An Introduction to...’ and ‘The 600 page all you need to know...’. It’ll be friends with both.
About the reviewer
Jack Lockhart is a learning consultant.
Conor Gilligan talks about learning agility with Johanna Bolin Tingvall, global head of GreenHouse, the learning and development function at Spotify.