LIFOW: Learn It Fast, Use It Now 

LIFOW? Like we need one more acronym in our industry, right? On the other hand, if you’re looking for ways to deliver training that is more easily retained and put to use, this is one acronym you might want to read up on.

What is It?

LIFOW stands for Learning in the Flow of Work. It is a learning approach that focuses on providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs effectively, while they are actually working. LIFOW can be delivered through a variety of methods, such as on-the-job training, microlearning, and performance support tools. 

LIFOW is becoming increasingly popular because it is aligned with the way that people learn best. People are more likely to learn and retain information when they are learning in context and when they have the opportunity to apply what they are learning immediately. It is also popular due to its effectiveness, due to the fact that while your people are learning, they are also producing.  

Is LIFOW the same as mentoring or apprenticeship?

LIFOW, mentoring, and apprenticeship are all learning approaches that can be used to help employees develop their skills and knowledge while on -the-job. However, there are some key differences between the three approaches.  

LIFOW is a more informal learning approach. It is focused on providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs effectively, while they are working. LIFOW can be delivered through a variety of methods, such as on-the-job training, microlearning, and performance support tools.

Mentoring is a more formal learning relationship between a more experienced person (the mentor) and a less experienced person (the mentee). The mentor provides guidance, support, and advice to the mentee, helping them to develop their skills and achieve their goals. Mentoring relationships can be short-term or long-term, and they can be formal or informal. 

Apprenticeship is a more structured learning program that combines formal training with on-the-job experience. Apprentices learn from a skilled worker (the journeyperson) how to perform a particular trade or occupation. Apprenticeships typically last for several years, and they lead to a certification or license in the trade or occupation. 

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between LIFOW, mentorship, and apprenticeship: 

CharacteristicLIFOWMentorshipApprenticeship
FormalityInformalInformal of FormalFormal
FocusLearning in the flow of workDeveloping the mentee's skills and knowledgeLearning a trade or occupation
LengthShort-term or Long-termShort-term or Long-termSeveral Years
RelationshipNoneInformal or FormalFormal

LIFOW, mentoring, and apprenticeship can all be used to support employees at any  level and in all industries. The best approach for a particular employee will depend on their individual needs and goals. 

In some cases, all three approaches can be used together to create a comprehensive learning experience for employees. For example, an employee might use LIFOW to learn the basic skills needed for their job, and then work with a mentor to develop their soft skills and leadership skills. Or, an apprentice might use LIFOW to learn the latest technologies and best practices in their trade. 

Ultimately, the goal of LIFOW, mentoring, and apprenticeship is to help employees develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their careers. 

Who Uses It?

There are many major companies that have engaged in Learning in the flow of work (LIFOW) initiatives to make it an integral part of their training programs. Here are a few examples: 

Google: Google has a LIFOW initiative called “G2G” (Googler to Googler). G2G allows Googlers to share their knowledge and expertise with each other through on-demand eLearning courses, workshops, and other learning activities. 

Microsoft: Microsoft has a LIFOW initiative called “Microsoft Learn.” Microsoft Learn is a free online learning platform that provides employees with access to on-demand eLearning courses on a variety of topics, including Microsoft products and services, soft skills, and more. 

Salesforce: Salesforce has a LIFOW initiative called “Trailhead.” Trailhead is a free online learning platform that provides employees with access to on-demand eLearning courses on Salesforce products and services. 

Walmart: Walmart has a LIFOW initiative called “Walmart Academy.” Walmart Academy is a free online learning platform that provides employees with access to on-demand eLearning courses on a variety of topics, including Walmart products and services, soft skills, and more. 

Amazon: Amazon has a LIFOW initiative called “Amazon Career Choice.” Amazon Career Choice is a program that provides employees with the opportunity to earn a college degree or certificate in a field of their choice. Amazon pays for tuition and other costs associated with the program. 

These are just a few examples of major companies that have engaged in LIFOW initiatives to make it an integral part of their training programs. LIFOW is becoming increasingly popular because it is an effective way to help employees learn the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while they are working. 

What are Some of LIFOW's Benefits?

 

Improved employee performance: Employees who have the opportunity to learn in the flow of work are more likely to be able to perform their jobs effectively. This is because they are learning the skills and knowledge they need when they need them. 

Increased employee engagement: Employees who are able to learn and grow in their roles are more likely to be engaged in their work. This is because they feel that their skills are being valued and that they are making a contribution to the company. 

Reduced training costs: LIFOW can help to reduce training costs by eliminating the need for employees to attend traditional training courses. Instead, employees can learn at their own pace and in their own time, while they are working. 

Attract and retain top talent: Employees are looking for companies that invest in their development. By offering LIFOW initiatives, companies can show that they are committed to helping their employees grow and succeed. 

Improve innovation and productivity: Employees who are constantly learning are more likely to be innovative and productive. LIFOW can help employees to develop the new skills and knowledge they need to stay ahead of the curve. 

Create a more engaged and motivated workforce: Employees who are learning and growing are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. LIFOW can help companies to create a more positive and productive work environment. 

Overall, LIFOW is a valuable learning approach that can help organizations improve employee performance, increase employee engagement, and reduce training costs, and achieve their business goals. 

Can You Provide Some Examples?

A customer service representative who is new to the job might use a knowledge base to learn about the company’s products and services while they are assisting a customer. 

A software engineer might use an online tutorial to learn more about a new programming language while they are working on a project. 

A sales representative might use a mobile app to practice their sales pitch while they are waiting to meet with a customer. 

Of course, LIFOW is an extremely versatile and effective learning approach and training can be consumed before the need arises as well. LIFOW can be used anytime, anywhere, to support employees at all levels and in all industries. 

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