Does your IT department keep iPads, Facebook, virtual worlds, mobile applications, games, YouTube, and other learning resources away from employees? Do you sometimes get the impression that you're working for the IT department, instead of IT working for you?
Do your IT leaders seem more concerned with keeping information from seeping out of the organization than with keeping useful information from coming in? If the answer is yes, then you're not alone.
Sadly, few IT leaders are willing to empower employees or give up their own control. After all, these are the same leaders who didn't want employees to be on the web or have their own email in the 1990s. They didn't want people to instant message each other a few years later. These technology tools were dismissed as mere toys.
But these "toys" have quickly become robust business applications, and more: Twitter and Facebook were forces for social change that helped to topple dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. Yet, plenty of IT departments act like dictators themselves with their futile efforts to stop social media and mobile apps from entering the workplace, clamp down on information whenever there's unrest in the organization, and hold on to power at any price.
The next time your IT leaders try to kill access to Facebook or Twitter, halt a virtual world event or podcast program, or disrupt a learning game or iPad learning app implementation, don't let them intimidate you. If they pull the "security card," call their bluff and pull the "obscurity card." Limiting next-generation learning will obstruct mission-critical information and prevent your organization from
attracting, retaining, and empowering the future workforce.
Conventional advice says to team up with IT early in the learning technology adoption process. However, even this can be a kiss of death if your IT department subscribes to a dictator-like management philosophy. If this is the case, don't be afraid to take matters into your own hands: Try to bypass the offenders, or find a senior leader to strong-arm them. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission.
Betsy Price, from the University of Texas at Brownsville, told our audience at one weekly Train for Success meeting that it's frequently better to take a "ready, fire, aim" approach to learning innovation - or rather, "fire, learn, change, iterate, tweak." She contrasted this method with the IT department's often-used approach: "Aimaimaimcheck with legalaimaim."
It's one of the great ironies of the corporate world that the one department with "information technology" in its name is often the main enemy to the use of learning technologies. Don't let them bully you. You're a change agent. Act like one.