L&D – how do we evolve?

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.

If you have never been on MURAL before then please watch this video to help you orientate yourself around the canvas.

 

 

 

 

What makes you mad?

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 “

So what makes you mad? I would love to know…..

 

Agile and L&D

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:

  1. ‘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!
  2. From the networking then determine which stakeholders you need to spend most time with by doing a stakeholder analysis.
  3. 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!
  4. Listen to what is going on  then encourage and feedback.

You can find out more about this from my book “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training “

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:

  1. Gauge interest
  2. Iron out glitches
  3. 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.

Top Ten Tips for Online Facilitation

Everyone is talking about it, but here are just 10 things you can do to improve your virtual facilitation.

 

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Use workbooks and worksheets to help cement the learning

According to the Harvard Business Review, hand writing your own notes has been shown to be more beneficial that typing them in. So encourage it!

  1. Learn about digital body language – you can see if people are engaging

Just because you can’t see everyone does not mean you cannot gauge the level of engagement. Click to learn from the experts like Jo Cook, about how you measure engagement.

  1. Be smiley, happy, energetic, stand up!

People can hear if you are smiling even if they cannot see you. Enjoy the experience

If you and your team could do with some inspiring help in the virtual arena, Krystyna has been developing trainers, facilitators and subject matter experts for many years.

Take a look at her latest programme success.

My gift to you

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, then contact 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?

Blooming Marvellous!

When I discovered Blooms Taxonomy first of all…. I was confused, then frustrated and now I absolutely love it!

The first thing that frustrated me was the word TAXONOMY – it just means classification so why use something that sounds so complicated?

 

The next thing was the names of the domains:

  • Cognitive (Knowledge)
  • Affective (Attitudes)
  • Psychomotor (Skills)

Again , why make it sound so complicated when it is so easy?

What I love about it, is the way I use it to determine the gaps in peoples knowledge, skills or attitudes and then the level to which they need to get better. Having determined that a need is down to a gap in learning and not in resources, relationships, processes etc I ask myself a question:

Is this a knowledge, skill or attitudinal gap?

I can determine the answer to this question (and whether it is a combination of 2 or 3) by thinking:

Is it something that has to be in peoples’ heads? A knowledge thing? Something you will only know if they have got if they, describe, explain, list or tell you about it?

 

Or is it a skill thing? Something that you will see them doing or that there is some visible output? It may be a physical skill (hence the ‘hands’)


Or is it the way they should be doing something? A heart thing? Their attitude?

 

Or is it a combination of all three?

Once it is clear in my mind which domain the learning falls into, then it requires some thought for the level of the learning. A simple example would be GDPR(General data Protection Principles) mandatory training. This is both a knowledge thing and also an attitudinal thing. It might even become a skill thing depending on which level you operate in the organisation.

Mandatory training for all staff can be tedious and if you make it generic it may not hit the mark with a lot of people. Let’s examine for different groups of people what they might actually need:

For colleagues you might want them:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible data security risks in their own team 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 

For line managers:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible and actual data security risks in their own team 
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 
  • Be role model for GDPR

For the Data Protection Officer:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • To be able to identify data security risks within their own team and the organisation
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Put together and communicates a policy which safeguards the data within the organisation according to GDPR
  • Be role model for GDPR
  • Inspires others to follow the GDPR policy 

From the above you can see that some of the learning could be used for all levels, but for some you need to take them to the next level and maybe beyond. Looking at the picture at the top of the article therefore Blooms Taxonomy can be used to determine the level of learning but also map out a path for learning for different groups of individuals. It is worth noting that you cannot just leap to the top level in any domain without spending some time at the lower levels.

If this is slowly starting to make sense or needs more clarification then watch this short video or chat to me

 

 

Blackberry picking …. and life in general

This morning I had a magical bank holiday wander around our village Bramhope, in West Yorkshire. Armed with water, a rucksack and a container with a lid, I set out for walking and blackberry picking.

As I walked and wandered, I pondered. It’s a day for pondering and new beginnings; with my youngest son moving into his new flat in Birmingham and my eldest probably going to settle in New Zealand.

As I picked the blackberries I saw many parallels to blackberry picking and life in general…….because I love metaphors I thought I would stretch this one to the limit and share ten things about seizing opportunities:

  1. The best ones are usually surrounded with nettles, be careful, tread carefully
  2. Don’t pick where everyone else picks, find your own place
  3. The biggest ones are not always the sweetest
  4. Don’t stretch too far to reach them, because you might fall in the ditch
  5. Slow down and just look and wait and as if by magic they seem to appear from nowhere
  6. Stop when you have enough to make something you enjoy
  7. The crumble tastes better when you can share it with others
  8. When you look at what you have gathered, you might have a few scratches and stings, but it’s worth it
  9. The joy can be in the picking as well as eating the crumble
  10. Remember there is always enough for everyone out there, gather what you will use

The Transformation Curve from Towards Maturity

I read this a while ago but have only just created this visual. It is hard to condense such a dense report and so I have been giving it some thought. I  think the key things to take away from this are:

  • To become more ‘mature’ as an organisation you can follow this curve
  • The starting point is a discussion between you and stakeholders about the barriers and benefits to improving your maturity index
  • The curve is actually a series of 4 steps
  • Between each step is a transition to the next step called a ‘pivot of change’
  • Each pivot point gives you some indicators as to when is a good move onto the next step, these are shown above but more detail van be gleaned from the report
  • Many of the points in stage 4 can be reached by following the steps in my book ‘How Not To Waste Your Money On Training’

 

 

LTSF19 – Finding the Story in the Data

June the 11th 2019 was the date of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum in ExCel London. I was honoured to run a session on “Finding the Story in the Data” and here are some of my notes and thoughts about the session. 

This session was a practical nitty gritty sort of event. I think people did forgive me if I was teaching my grandmother to suck eggs but I do hear from a lot of L&D people who just don’t know where to start. Data is all over the place and you can easily get swamped. So the purpose of this session was to get people started and get some confidence in looking at data in a practical way. 

I started by asking a question: “Why bother collecting or analysing data?”.

Here are some of the reasons collected from the Learning and Skills group webinar by the same name the week before. 

The chart was put together by Laura Overton and reproduced with her permission.

The two main reasons as you can see are to improve the user experience and also understand the effects or benefits. Not surprising really and in a report by Towards Maturity from 2018 they speak about 91% of the top deck saying that their learning interventions were aligned to the business goals. In order to do that, you need to be measuring what you are doing.

Other reasons may be:

  1. Credibility
  2. To check if things are going to plan
  3. Demonstrate the value brought by L&D
  4. Transition from learning provide to performance enhancer
  5. Avoid the sheep dip approach
  6. It is expected
  7. Stakeholder buy-in

My engineering brain….. in a former life I was a chemical engineer and fuel technologist and if you think that it is all about data and analysis with no room for intuition, then let me share a little story:

As an engineer, gathering data to site wind turbines, I became very skilled at finding appropriate sites just by looking at a map. This helped me to narrow down where to look from a myriad of places, that might be suitable. I would look at the maps, gather data from a mast and correlate it to the nearest met station. It is no different in L&D. You can use your intuition to see where things might be going wrong, from the data that you are already collecting and from your stakeholders. This means you can collect limited and focussed data to confirm your suspicions, to begin to find the story in the data.

Understanding the link between data and performance is crucial, as per the diagram below.

Knowing when to collect quantitative or qualitative data is also important.

Working through a case study helped participants decide when it was appropriate to gather quantitative data and then qualitative. A crucial part of this thinking was to think broader than the case study which is a great piece of advice to anyone doing their own analysis. Look and see what is happening in your industry just in case the sudden drop in sales is industry wide and not just a blip in your own organisation. It could save you a lot of time!

I then challenged the participants to say what they saw in a number of different graphs , encouraging them to be playful to find the story in the data. Sometimes the graphs raised more questions than they answered but it certainly gave everyone an insight into how easy it is to use Excel and simple charts to uncover that story.

 

I just had to share this picture from LTSF19 – Rachael Orchard, my fabulous host for the session, kindly brought her stormtrooper so we could endlessly make Star Wars puns and then playful Don Taylor agreed to pose with us both!

 

 

 

 

Is your fear serving you well?

I began writing this on holiday, where I often get new insights with the refresh I feel physically, mentally and emotionally. We have been in Madeira, attracted by the climate, the amazing scenery and the promise of delightful walks. So why the subject of fear? Two incidents on the first two days of our holiday that had me genuinely scared.I will recount these briefly to give some context.

“Are you driving a getaway car?” I often ask hubbie, who is not known for his patience in planning our route to anywhere! This was no exception a quick tap into the sat nav, missed turns and before we knew it we were driving down the road shown in the photo below.


Thankful for his steely nerve and grippy sandals we survived to tell the tale. Note to self: if a concrete road has ridges and steps in it – DON’T DRIVE DOWN IT!!!

The following day, we decided to do a Levada walk, starting just up the road with Levada Moinho linking to Levada Nova. We didn’t even have to get in the car, which was a relief. For someone who has just written a book on needs analysis and using data, you may be shocked to hear I had not researched the route very much. If I had I may have read the warnings about steep drops and lack of handrails. By the time I reached the sections with a 500ft drop and no handrails we were well over half way around. No going back……

The picture below was on a relatively tame stretch ……..

Seeing two guys walking a dog, one with flip flops on, strangely comforted me. “ The walk must be easy from here on in” I thought to myself. I am extremely scared of heights and having walking poles helped to some extent, it helped steady me, though I could only use one as the path was not wide enough for two.

With each precipitous section I would steel myself and sing “The sun has got his hat on” (heaven knows why!) and marching tentatively to the rhythm of the song. Other times I would swear…… badly and other times pray.

I got through it, but the feeling of fear has stayed with me and got me thinking. Got me thinking about how at times I have been fearful and overcome that fear anyway. Got me thinking about times that fear has prevented me from being who I really am. Got me thinking about when others have said that I am brave.

So times I have been fearful and overcome it:

  • As a graduate engineer working on partially constructed gantries hundreds of feet up in the air. Had a job to do and just got on with it
  • Same job, getting into small, dark, enclosed spaces (another fear). Had a job to do and just got on with it.
  • Moving from engineering to IT training when I used to get panic attacks just presenting, found my love of helping people to develop. The fear melted when I felt the interaction grow and that I was conversing with individuals not a whole room of people.
  • Speaking to a large conference audience over 200, I survived by doing what I know I do well, having a clear plan, audience participation and a sense of fun
  • Selling over 2000 valentine cards to raise money for tsunami victims (I had only asked for 100!), I found resources I never knew I had.

There are many more stories I could add but all the stories have different learning points about fear and how sometimes it has a point and at other times just holds me back.

‘Feelings of fear are engendered by dangerous situations’ says Frederic Neumann. Fair enough, your fear may have a genuine reason for it. In situations where your life is threatened it’s essential so that you don’t go too far and lose your life. Other times the fear is not rational and hence can be a hinderance.

Here are some of the things I have learned so far about fear:

  • Fear can keep you alert when in dangerous situations and focus your mind on staying alive. In those situations, it has a clear purpose.
  • Overcoming a HUGE fear of public speaking led me to the most delicious career I could have chosen, it was worth it. Removing the fear allowed me to see and experience something I may not ever have thought I would enjoy.
  • I often have exceeded my own expectations, surprised myself, because a fear may have held me back even from believing I could achieve something. So, the fear does more than stop you, it limits further belief in yourself.
  • People have called me brave, for starting my own business, for writing a book, but in all honesty in those particular situations I have not been fearful, so was I brave?

Whatever your experiences of fear, at times I think it helpful to reflect on which type of fear you are experiencing. Is it ‘staying alive’ type or the ‘holding me back’ rational or irrational type? Once we have identified the root, in my experience we can then decide whether it is worth getting over it or just going with it.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be a lot more conscious of my fears, just because of this reflection and hoping that I can be wholly me, no holds barred. There are still a few little corners here and there littered with ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’ so worth the effort, I think.

So I am curious……which fears are serving you well and which are holding you back I wonder…… ?

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