On a Thursday I have decided to ponder….. #ThoughtfulThursday if you like…….
…….and today I am thinking about some choices that we can make in this time of reset/recovery/readjustment (delete as applicable) to make our profession the best it can be.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the Learning Loop Approach. Please see the picture below and read this document if you would like to know more.
Yesterday I came across an unfinished diagram and rather than finishing it myself, I wondered if the wonderful network of L&D professionals that I am connected with could finish or amend it with me. So if you are up for a bit of virtual collaboration then click on this link to join my collaboration space on MURAL.
I am not an angry person but on occasions there are some things that genuinely make me mad!
I love my profession and I know that it is not perfect but why are we still designing and delivering programmes, then thinking about evaluation when we have finished delivery?
I sort of know the answer to that, but would love to hear some of your thoughts too. What really stops us from demonstrating the value we deliver though learning?
One of the reasons I wrote my book “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training” was to provide a simple step-by-step guide of how to set yourself up for success in L&D. I had noticed in my 30+ years in L&D and the last 12+ years in developing people in the profession, that L&D professionals sometimes do not know where to start when it comes to doing an analysis of needs BEFORE embarking on the learning journey. In this way, they would know where they are headed and when finished could measure the effectiveness.
Some knew where to start, but didn’t have the analytical skills or confidence to find evidence to support why they might implement a learning solution. Some did not know how to engage with the organisation to get a clear focus on what the performance outcomes might be.
During this pandemic, when resources are stretched and tensions high in our organisations, we should be embracing the opportunity to reset and recalibrate what we do in L&D, shouldn’t we?
A couple of weeks ago Kevin M.Yates spoke at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum about “How to Solve Mysteries like an L&D Detective”. Below is a visual summary of his session. What I found particularly helpful are the 6 questions you should ask before embarking on an L&D project. The least anyone can do is ask those questions. If you cannot answer all of them with a “yes” then I would recommend my book “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training “
As a former IT trainer and programmer (in my engineering career) I was fascinated by anything which helped me to programme more efficiently.
I learned to programme back in the early 80’s when we were still using punch cards so the fewer lines of code, the shorter your stack and the less impact of accidentally dropping them. Elastic bands were considered an essential piece of kit in programming back then!
Having been at the start of when object oriented programming emerged, it was a time when reusing and repurposing efficient bits of code was at the forefront of everyones mind. AGILE was just emerging in the late 1990’s as a way to manage IT projects against a back drop of increasing storage (and lack of punch cards!) It was heralded as an innovative way to ensure speed of delivery as well as producing a minimum viable product to allow for testing and feedback. This was seen to be a much more efficient way to produce the millions of lines of code that were often required.
In the last few years I have heard more and more about what AGILE means in the L&D space and I had my own take on it when I spoke at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum in 2018. What I shared back then, still stands, I believe. It goes beyond pure methodologies in rapid design and looks at why we should align ourselves with the organisation to deliver learning products that deliver on what the organisation and the learners both need.
Here are the 4 key points for L&D:
‘Infiltrate’ the organisation, by getting know what its goals are and understanding what the priorities should be. Network like mad to get to know the right people to connect with. Dig deeper into the data to dine areas of concern and don’t take one data point or source as being gospel!
From the networking then determine which stakeholders you need to spend most time with by doing a stakeholder analysis.
Set clear outcomes that are important to your stakeholders so that they will measure! Make sure your line managers are aligned to these outcomes too! keep your eyes not he prize!
Listen to what is going on then encourage and feedback.
Just recently I attended the CIPD Festival of Work and was really interested in Carlo Beschi’s talk on “Agile Methodologies to Create Responsive Learning”. This is my visual summary on his session:
What I took from this for my own business is to start small and have a few iterations, gaining feedback to:
Iron out glitches
Test out the platform
I have done this for my online course “Creating Beautiful Visual Notes” – it is in the pilot stage at the moment, getting feedback and when the final product emerges in a few weeks it will hopefully have some of the glitches ironed put.
Think about what you CAN do online that you cannot do face to face
Quite often we try to translate what we would do face to face into the virtual world and it feels like a compromise. So, think about what you can do online that is really hard face to face. For example, getting many ideas in 1 minute becomes easy when you don’t have to give space to individual contributions one after the other. Chat, whiteboard and online tools like LINOIT and MURAL make gathering thoughts easy!
Be yourself, get chatty and encourage as much interaction as possible
Think about how you will introduce the event and welcome people. In the same way that when you are face-to-face, you would say hello as people come in, do the same, make small talk and get people relaxed and ready to contribute. It’s not so much breaking the ice but settling people in and getting them over that initial screen of faces staring at them (if they have their videos on). Ask them to say where they are calling from in the chat and what the weather is doing. Or maybe get them to share “One thing that…..” which is relevant to the topic of the day.
More slides, more pictures, fewer words
Don’t use the slides as a teleprompter. Use notes on your desk if you need a prompt and make the visuals appealing with pictures, questions and interesting statistics (if appropriate). Change the slides more frequently than if you were face to face and think about how to engage people by inserting questions. They can chat while you speak in the chat box.
Think about group size
If it is a small group (<12) you can invite personal thoughts and contributions on microphone whereas this should be managed more carefully for larger groups. By all means invite people on microphone but get them to raise their hand and make it clear you are looking for just 1 minute, 1 thought etc. You can still make it interactive if the group size is large but you may have to use tools like MURAL or LINOIT to capture thoughts and ideas.
Consider having a host for larger groups to deal with the tech and chatter
A good host will take the pressure of the facilitator and keep an eye on the chat as well as take over in case of any technical issues. Communicate what support you would like from the host: from adding in questions, spotting who might want to contribute to injecting a controversial question!
Belt and braces
If anything is likely to go wrong in the virtual world, it can and it will! So always have a back-up plan. Send your slides and session plan to the host just in case your internet connection goes down. They can keep things going while you get back in. Some activities may take too long or go too quickly – what will you do to “fill” or avoid that “we have run out of time….” announcement. Can they continue adding their thoughts on an online platform? Consider having a tablet as an extra screen so you can see what your participants can see.
Change pitch, pace and tone every 3-5 minutes. Keep them engaged.
There are lots of ways to keep them engaged and here are just a few:
I have been coaching people the last few days, noticing there is genuine fear and anxiety out there amongst some people, but with others a revelation that this may be a moment to pause and reflect. Wherever you are and whichever end of the spectrum, I will be praying for peace throughout this crisis. I will be praying that from each individuals perspective at least one good thing comes out of it to make a better future.
I haven’t blogged for a while for a number of reasons:
World weary from being on this treadmill we call life
Disillusionment with social media and the negativity it often brings
Filling my social media buffer feels like a chore, it is not really connecting with people, even though people respond and react
There has not been a burning desire to share a ‘nugget’ with all my connections
In this last few week I have seen a lot of worry and panic. This has almost been palpable and it feels like it is still rising. People are losing jobs, life has changed from what we know it to have been and we fear that we might lose loved ones. For some of us that may have already happened.
So why blog now? What’s changed for me? Work has stopped, almost and I am not good when I have not much to do. In a crisis, I often will ask myself “But what CAN I do?”
Coaching is a passion and it is a gift to receive it as well as offer it. In my years of coaching people, I have often been blessed by the transformations I have witnessed and inspired to make changes in my own life. The answer to my question was “Why not see if people want a free coaching session?”
It made sense and it would occupy me and hopefully distract me from the panic surrounding me. As soon as I put the offer out a few people contacted me. I have been humbled by their honesty and grateful to have been of what little help I can be.
The offer still stands, if you are struggling and need a conversation, some non-judgmental time for you to mull over what the possibilities might be, thencontact me. We can set up a time to suit both of us.
While coaching one person, I realised some of the questions and the order in which I asked them may, be useful to others. If you need some time to reflect now the pause button had been pressed, then maybe these questions might help reflect, recalibrate and plan a new brighter future once this crisis subsides.
Here are those questions:
What is your biggest fear?
What makes you think it is true?
What could you do to help yourself thrive at this time?
What will you do?
Thinking about these things how does it make you feel?
In six months time when (hopefully) we are through the other side what stories would you iike to be sharing?
Going through this crisis, what permanent changes would you like to see in your life for the good?