For business

Removing Barriers to Workplace Learning

Based on what we learned in the previous post, the barriers to learning can be summarized in the following high-level categories:

Content (quality, relevancy, signal to noise ratio)
Capacity (availability of time, the motivation of individual)
Culture (Is continuous learning a priority?)

Let’s dig into ways to solve each of these problems.

1. Content

Here’s how we think about solving the content problem:

Domain Experts

If we want the highest quality content, it needs to come from a domain expert, not one of *millions* of results in a search engine query. Search engines surface high-quality content, but they also display information by people who understand how to rank in search engines as well.

Insight + Coverage

The only way to deliver the most relevant content is by 1.) having knowledge of someone’s interests and 2.) having enough content to be able to accommodate learners with a variety of interests. If the library isn’t large enough, there will be gaps and we won’t be able to deliver the most relevant results. If we don’t have knowledge of someone’s interests, we won’t be able to curate the library and deliver the best recommendations.

High signal, less noise

If we want to improve the signal to noise ratio with the content, we need to compress the most important insights into a format that can be easily consumed by the individual. The knowledge can be compressed by a person or through algorithms. Human curation is ideal and is much more effective, yet it’s costly.

If the insights are compressed in another format, there are times when digging into the source material will still be important. The curated content should serve as a jumping-off point to the original material (if desired).

2. Capacity

How do you solve the capacity problem? We have a few ideas below.

Alignment to daily activities

Learning opportunities must be structured in a way that fits into someone’s daily schedule, especially with the constant distractions competing for one’s time. Can the drive to work become a learning opportunity? Can the subway ride home turn into a learning opportunity? The format (length) and mode of delivery (text, audio, video) are critical factors here. It needs to be easy to learn.


We believe the best way to solve the motivation problem is by offering learning opportunities that are personalized to the individual’s interests. Technology can help here, offering a personalized “path” to discovery.

3. Culture

Finally, there’s the organizational culture, which can limit the effectiveness of a learning program. What can we do to help this?

Leadership buy-in

If you want to build a culture of continuous learning, the most effective approach starts at the top, with leadership bought in. As we mentioned earlier, more and more CEOs are concerned about keeping up with the pace of technological change, so if we want to build a learning program, it must focus on solving this problem.

From strategy to tactics

After we’ve achieved leadership buy-in, the strategy (creating a culture of learning), must translate into day-to-day tactics. You may have expertise in your company to manage these initiatives, or you may want to consider hiring an experienced consultant to help.

Does this sound like a lot of work? You are right! In our next post, we’ll outline how getAbstract can help you put these ideas into practice.

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