Learning begins very early in life. Each parent “teaches” their offspring as they know best – some let them roam free and explore, some buy very expensive toys and read specialized literature while others choose to employ the help of professionals very early on. There even are trainers who promise they will teach a baby to swim since he is four months old. And then the ‘compulsory’ cycle begins: kindergarten, preschool, elementary, high school, college, Master’s degree… It can actually go on practically forever. There always is another course, another certificate, another degree to earn.
But since most people are not well-off billionaires, at some point (usually in those sweet college years) a job becomes painfully necessary (for the purpose of rent, food and some decent clothes on one’s back). When learning and development programs are set up, the attention is focused solely on formal learning. That’s probably because the informal version doesn’t sit well with schedules, set objectives and quantifications.
While good old fashioned learning paths are necessary and very useful, since informal learning is almost always self-initiated, it proves to be a lot more effective and with visible effects on organizational performance.