Are L&D ready for change? Which deck are you on?

This is the fourth in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. 

TM blogs #4Looking through report – “Preparing for The Future of Learning: A Changing Perspective for L&D Leaders” – it is great to see so much emphasis on L&D being business focussed. This is not a critique of the report, you should read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. The report makes some excellent points.

There are especially some really great points to in the “40 ways to build the skills of L&D” section of the report but, in my humble opinion, these cannot be done in isolation and require some sort of route map.

The report mentions in a few places about the “appropriate use of technology”, something I discussed in the last blog, “Are L&D thinking digitally?” . Also I mentioned in the past about the difference between efficiency and effectiveness...

More about the report….

double decker red bus clipartThe report compares the best practice performers (top deck) versus everyone else and judging by the statistics, that lower deck is pretty full! On this bus, do we assume that the that the driver is the business leader, or has the route been set by the business leadership. Are L&D actually helping to drive the bus, or somewhere at the back, hanging on for dear life?

Going beyond the analogy (before I stretch it too thin!) here are a few of the things I would think will help L&D become more ready for change:

  • Move beyond the course and get closer to the business
  • Expand the toolkit to include digital, but to be used appropriately
  • Take on a consultancy approach
  • Create learning communities by collaboration and the correct online tools
  • Make learning part of everyones remit
  • Get stakeholders on board and soak their language
  • Infiltrate the organisation and be a part of key change initiatives
  • Keep ahead of the game and know how your learners learn

….not much then! I love the fact that we are now (in L&D) starting to have these conversations about getting more business savvy, looking beyond just training and making a difference. Exciting times ahead, don’t you agree?

Are L&D thinking digitally?

TM blogs #3This is the third in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. The third question, not the statistics in the graphic, caused me to do some deep thinking!

So, let me tell you a little bit about my thinking in term of learners, digital stuff and also what my experience has been. I am an ex-engineer (if you can ever really leave that?) and a former IT trainer for IBM, so digitally, I would say I am maybe more comfortable than the minority, as keen as the majority, but not as convinced as the digital evangelists.

I have run webinars, created short learning videos, taken part in Twitter chats (LnDConnect) and learn from my own professional learning network, I blog regularly, share updates on LinkedIn and engage in forums, created online polls, used online reflective apps like Brainscape, I have designed blended learning programmes and generally embraced new technology, where it can accelerate and enhance the learning experience. Let me make it quite clear, I am fluent and practised in digital and I use it as an ingredient to a rich blend of many other methods. It is not the first or only thing I think of when looking for a learning solution. So this question is what has caused me to think deeply. “Are L&D thinking digitally?”

If I am baking a cake, I use the right tools for the job and in L&D I think exactly the same. I consider carefully*:

  • Budget and resources
  • Location(s) of the learners
  • The topic
  • Timescales
  • Depth of the learning required (so I may layer different methods)
  • Commitment of the stakeholders
  • Size an culture of the organisation

*See also blog on LNA

The question“Are L&D thinking digitally?” implies that this is how we should be thinking. Digital is not the answer to every L&D problem, it is part of a toolkit available to L&D professionals to create a great blend of learning that will maximise the effectiveness of any planned learning interventions. It is very easy, with the latest, shiniest digital tools, to be thinking “Oh golly where can I use this?” (in my giddiness – I have been there!), whereas we should be thinking about:

“What will work best in this situation, with these learners and to achieve the best organisational outcomes?”

So with this in mind, I would change this question to: “Are L&D thinking digitally, in an appropriate way?“. Maybe its semantics…. what do you think?

Does L&D understand their customers?

TM blogs #2This is the second in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the right. What was interesting was the “1 in 3” statistic!

It is an often repeated myth that we have a learning preference and we only learn effectively if we are in our preferred mode. However, David Kolb, when he came up with his experiential learning model, said that to learn most effectively, we need to go through every stage! That means we need to:

  • Do something
  • Reflect on it
  • Make sense of it (with theories etc)
  • Apply it to our own situations

Learners are all different, have different interests and are at different stages of learning. People may have preferences but there is no evidence that matching materials or methods to learning style will improve retention. Could you learn how to plaster a wall by listening to an audio lesson if you are an “auditory” learner or if you are a “visual” learner, did you learn how to walk by your mum giving you a powerpoint presentation? I know these are absurd examples but, somehow it does show how absurd the notion of matching learning to a learners style is. It makes much more sense to match what you learn to the type of activity, so that:

  1. If you are learning a skill, you get to learn and practice that skill – make it appropriate. If you are learning customer service skills, you will need to apply them and so here are a few methods you could use: role play, peer observation, video recording, “stop and rewind” role play (get to correct mistakes as you go along)
  2. If you are learning knowledge, then you need to make sure you understand how to make it “stick”. A little knowledge on what makes the brain retain information and put it into long-term memory can help immensley. You can read some of my “5 tips”, in a  previous blog to help with this.

In short:

  • You should design learning with variety
  • Take the learners through the whole of Kolb’s cycle
  • Use some practical neuroscience to help make the learning stick (Recommended good book)

“The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing. If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated.” (Learning Styles Concepts and Evidence: PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST Vol 9, No. 3 2009)

L&D – Are you what you measure?

TM blogs #1This is the first in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the left. What fascinated me were some of the statistics in this segment.

In the report, the survey showed that 17% of those polled, measure business metrics to improve business performance, but 86% would like to improve business performance. That is a huge mismatch and it got me thinking “Why then, if the will is there, people do not measure L&D’s performance against business metrics?”

So I have a theory and it all stems from “Begin with the end in mind”. It is all very well to have a great intention of “improving business performance” and a whopping 86% of the respondents wanted this, but you have to start off on the right foot. At the beginning you have to do the right kind of analysis to determine the needs and the outputs, making sure that there is in fact a strong link between them. Then you need to:

  • Identify those people who have a stake in improving the business
  • Of those stakeholders, identify where they are on the stakeholder analysis grid, that way you know where to focus your efforts
  • Be part of the business and have your finger on the pulse, so you always get the bigger picture
  • Ask questions about organisational benefits and impact, not just learning outcomes
  • Do a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA) to uncover what individuals, teams and the organisation needs
  • Set objectives with the stakeholders and have targets that THEY can measure success against
  • Agree post learning activities and follow up
  • Keep them up to date with what is going on and get them to support the learners
  • Check in at various points and update them on progress
  • Ask the stakeholders how the measures put in place are stacking up

I’ve written before about “Needs Analysis” and spoken about it at the CIPD L&D exhibition in May 2016 – what surprised me was the number of people that are REALLY interested in this topic! The last point in the list, is a crucial one, because another reason I believe only 17% measure business metrics in evaluation is that the best people to do the measuring are those who are most interested in those metrics and have EASY access to them!!! Is that a little too obvious?

Now L&D does not sit in some sort of vacuum or at least it shouldn’t. L&D is an important and necessary part of any successful businesses strategy – and if it isn’t we should be asking ourselves “why?” and “what can we do to become essential and not just a cost?” If you are not conducting a needs analysis that involves the correct stakeholders and using or developing metrics then what are you doing?

This is what David Hayden, L&D Professional at the CIPD said about the statistics:

“The challenge of 17% only measuring demonstrates it can be a massive challenge and rethink on what we measure.  My advice is to start small and build up – pick one or two projects or interventions and work on the business metric links for those – and make it explicit in any pre intervention communication, during the intervention at regular points and in any post intervention communication.  Become known for knowing the business goals!! Be that role model!”

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington

If you would like to discuss further with a group of L&D professionals, then come along to our next free Showcase event : “Taking the fear out of ROI”

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