Standing amongst Giants – Ignite Lab at CIPD L&D Show

Ignite CIPD session - 34

Yesterday I had the honour and privilege to stand amongst giants in our industry. The place was Olympia, the CIPD L&D Show and it was the final session of the day – the IGNITE LAB. For those not familiar with this format, each person presents 20 slides in 5 minutes, with the slides automatically advancing every 15 seconds.

Having settled on a topic, “How to be Agile in L&D”, I created some hand drawn slides and I pretty much thought it was going to be a doddle. The nearer it got to the day and the more I practised, the more I realised how hard it was. Give me a day or half a day to facilitate some learning and that’s not a problem, but 5 minutes to just present! It felt very unnatural and forced and the nerves were starting to kick in.

As the line up for the IGNITE LAB was revealed, we engaged  in an exchange on Twitter where we shared similar feelings and the nerves were apparent.  Some suggested they were going to use prompt cards, which I had ‘discarded’ as an idea, but when Julie Dryborough assured me I could “distill” the essentials in this way (I was waffling quite a bit in my practice runs), it convinced me to to do the “practice, tweak, repeat” advice offered by Niall Gavin.

Having tweaked, distilled, honed and transferred my notes to prompt cards , I was set. It felt much more comfortable knowing I would have the right words to fit the 15 second maximum for each slide.

So here is how it the event unfolded for me (in order) for me:

Niall Gavin – opened beautifully, with a heart-felt (see what I did there?) story relating to redundancy. No cards just him some slides and a great story.

Sukhvinder Pabial – followed. Confident, articulate and ever the professional, spoke about marginal gains and how we in L&D could take the lead front eh British Cycling team to improve L&D’s performance.

Krystyna Gadd – once I was up there and looking into the whites of their eyes (there were so many lovely people that I knew there!) I couldn’t look at my prompt cards. The slides progressed and it all came flooding back to me. Note to self next time – ditch the cards and fly solo!

Andrew Jacobs – popped his IGNITE cherry and did a sterling job beginning with learning not being built on firm foundations

Marco Faccini – amazed us all that he had rewritten his presentation that afternoon, making it real and showing us the money!

Amanda Arrowsmith – was unfairly plagued by the PowerPoint gremlins and Julie Dryborough volunteered to advance them but not before “ghosting it”. My hat goes off to  Amanda who was neither shaken nor stirred by all that seemed to happen (or not) – a veteran deliverer presenting an engaging and memorable session!

Blake Henegan – rocked his first IGNITE, challenging us to be kinder to ourselves by reflecting and connecting more and thus reducing overwhelm

Julie Drybrough– wowed us on creating a thriving culture by lighting up the shadows and understanding our git self. Sounds like good advice!

Phil Wilcox – what an amazing ending to the session with a poem about “Who am I?”- you are officially awesome Phil, be you!!

What was lovely, was being amongst these L&D giants, sharing our vulnerabilities, cheering each other on and applauding the achievement of “just” speaking for 5 minutes though 20 slides… easy eh….. we did good!

And we are all available for future speaking engagements at a very modest fee…..lol

Storify of the tweetage care of Donna Hewitson

 

OOPs I designed it again

HTAL - 14OOPS I designed it again – how to avoid reinventing the wheel in learning design

Would you like to make design of learning interventions easy? Would you like to be able to reuse activities so that design becomes much more modular? Would you like to design multiple programmes quickly and tailor for specific groups of performers? So in this article I will introduce to you a methodology not dissimilar to something used in programming, which helps you to achieve this.

Some of you may already know this but my first degree was in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology. As part of my degree we learnt how to program in Fortran and basic. This was to be very helpful when 6 years later I made a career change and became an IT trainer.

Just lately I have been making connections with a certain type of programming and how I have been developing the Learning Loop, a brand new way to do Train-the-trainer. When I first launched the Learning Loop Programme, I promised it to be:

  • Tailored to the individuals attending
  • Activity led and not content driven
  • Suitable for L&D people of any level of skill or experience
  • Creative and business focused

Object Oriented Programming (OOP) requires a different mind set. Instead of using the traditional approach to programming, where you start at the beginning and work your way through to writing the (sometimes unwieldy) programme, you start to recognize parts that are reusable and generic. Thus coding becomes more about using those generic parts and then adding the odd bit of customized code. This principal can also be applied to designing learning interventions.

When creating a new Learning Loop for an open workshop or a new client, it always starts with the objectives- making sure they are SMART using Robert Magers’ PCS framework. Once the objectives have been outlined then the design can begin. Initially there would be more design, but now every time I run a new workshop, after writing the objectives I can then reuse a good deal of the activities. The key is in determining the correct level and scope of the learning – whether it is skills, knowledge or attitudinal. Not designing too broadly is also key, then you can mix and match activities from the library you create over time.

HTAL - 13This can be applied to designing multiple leadership programmes for different levels of leader. Write clear learning outcomes from the organisational ones.  Select from your library the generic activities you can use at each level. Select for the higher levels additional learning activities and maybe then also design some new additional ones required to tailor at each level.

If you would like help to use this approach, then get in touch for a free 30 minute telephone consultation today: info@howtoacceleratelearning.co.uk

 

An unconference you say? What on earth is that?

In February this year I attended my very first unconference in Manchester, organised through an online community @LnDConnect and I loved it so much, that I attended my second this September. “So what on earth is an unconference?” you may be wondering…. so I will use bits and pieces gathered from here and there, as well as some graphics to try and describe what I have experienced and why I think they are marvellous!

Firstly there were some great people to network with in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. There was no agenda, which was a little curious (I have been to a few conferences, so this meant I didn’t know what I was in for) but also a little exciting. We were going to co-create the agenda together as a group.

Of course there had to be some initial instructions on how the day would pan out, otherwise it would have been chaos. The facilitation team guided us and informed novices like myself about the process. There is something about skilled facilitators that create a great open space, that really draws you in and gets you thinking right from the start.

img_2157 img_2158

As we were invited to come up wth topics we were interested in exploring, it sparked off thoughts about which sessions I would like to attend, which I could best contribute to and what I would like to explore myself.  Topics were then grouped and an agenda emerged: 4 time slots and roughly 3 or 4 different topics per time slot. Quite a choice in a very short amount of time.

So what was it actually like? Apart from the initial nerves because it was new, we had some great discussions. Rather than one “sage on the stage” to draw from, there were many views, which made it a really rich and thought provoking experience. I took from it some real nuggets, which had really disrupted my thinking. I left having made some new friends and explored ideas from a rich pool of talent. I heard real life stories and experiences from many practitioners; successes as well as failures (you don’t often hear about those in a conference!) I went away feeling listened to, encouraged and uplifted, having listened to many experts (though they may not be widely seen as these).

In the graphics I have tried to summarise briefly, what an unconference is like and what happens. What I would really urge you do to is go and attend one; be prepared to listen, share and learn! You won’t regret it!

What fills you and sustains you?

blog-collageWhatever profession you are in, there will be things that drain you and things that fill you. In the L&D profession, I feel that it is important to be able to inspire people and wonder, if you are “drained” how is that ever going to happen?

In the last few weeks I have learnt lots from unexpected places and had a chance to reflect on how I normally “do things”. In these reflections, I have come to ponder on which things take a lot of effort and may drain me, as opposed to some things requiring no effort and invigorating me.

Last week I was at Learning Live in London and it took virtually no effort as I:

  • Was not exhibiting
  • Was not leading a session
  • Was helping point people to the Creativity Zone (easy peasy!)
  • Took the train down and was able to chill out by reading
  • Stayed in a serviced apartment virtually across the road

Things that really invigorated me were:

  • Scribbling some of my thoughts on the various sessions onto my iPad and sharing with people
  • The subsequent feedback I got about my “scribblings”
  • Chance conversations that I had with people at some of the sessions
  • Reconnecting with people I knew and had not seen for a while
  • Connecting with people I had only ever connected with virtually
  • Little “nuggets” I gleaned from the speakers that will make a difference to me
  • Having time out to just “be” and stop “doing”

So this has made me think about what I consciously do in my normal working week to keep “filled” and sustained, rather than feeling drained by the end of the week. The collage above contains all those things which “fill” me:

  • Walking
  • Great views
  • Travelling
  • Pottery
  • Felting (the wet and dry types!)
  • Being with my family and friends
  • Having great learning experiences with clients
  • Having an outlet for my artistic cravings

So my intention, is that at the start of every day/week I plan in those things that keep me topped up and sustained, and intersperse them with those essential things that I need to do, but do drain me. I love to be inspired and I hope that this helps me inspire others to learn, so I am committed to giving this a go…. will let you know how it goes….

 

Should L&D aim for obsolescence?

I took part in a very interesting #ldinsight discussion on Twitter (@LnDConnect) last Friday and it made me think deeply. David D’Souza* was the one promoting this proposition and it really got me on the defensive. In defense of L&D that is.

*what David actually said was “Help them to learn how to learn & help others learn. Then disappear like mist.”

So in theory, if in L&D we did our jobs really well, we could help people to learn how to:

  • Recruit the best people
  • Learn on the job as well as other channels
  • Pass on knowledge and skills where needed and when
  • Adjust attitudinal misalignment through coaching

……just as a starter for 10

So in this Utopian world I could completely buy this, believing that 100% sustainable learning is achievable across the board, but these are the realities:

  • People start to drift back into their silos, looking out for themselves and not the greater good
  • Egos start to drive competition and not collaboration
  • “Stuff” starts to happen in one area that others don’t notice
  • We believe that how we have learned in the past is the absolute best way to learn in the future

……just a few little things…but that is why we need L&D to:

  • Challenge when the drift starts to happen
  • Remind people of common goals
  • Infiltrate the organisation, so we have an overview of what is happening
  • Keep abreast of new and better ways to learn in an ever changing world

Going back to David’s original tweet, I do agree somewhat… L&D should “disappear like the mist”, but not permanently,  just waiting in the wings, to help, coach, support where necessary. My defensiveness around David’s statement was because  his approach, is a philosophy and I am very much a pragmatist. Back to the original question though….. “Should L&D aim for obsolescence?”. If we take this on board as a philosophy, will that change our approach? I believe it might do….

My own approach to L&D is strongly in favour of everyone in an organisation being empowered to learn and I have blogged about this approach previously if you are interested in reading about it.

I mainly train trainers, facilitators and SME’s but just recently, in an exciting new project I worked with a team of team leaders, helping them to understand the whole of the learning cycle so they could develop their teams more effectively. This was a pilot and we are waiting to measure the outcomes to see the impact. One objective was to give these non L&D people enough knowledge of L&D so that they stop prescribing training as the only solution. L&D will be at hand though to help them in the trickier tasks of doing more detailed needs analysis, when they need it. Would David approve of this in theory I wonder?

Design

 

 

 

 

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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