To educate, learn or train? That is the question!

Should we in L&D be focussed on improving job performance and hence all learning is focussed on that or should we be looking for people to be inspired to learn more and be more self-directed?

I spent some time in July writing my book, “How not to waste your money on training” and during the week I had a few philosophical moments. One was about the difference between education, training and learning. I often speak to L&D professionals about the difference between a training needs analysis and a learning needs analysis. How the former always leads to training whereas the latter leads to something broader than just training; it could be learning in many different forms.

In a similar way I was thinking about how my degree in chemical engineering and fuel technology was a good education. It prepared me for the world of work and also began a lifelong desire to learn more. When I moved from engineering to IT training with IBM we were called “instructors” and I worked in the IBM Education Centre in St. John’s Wood. Was what people received when they came to us there, an education? I am not so sure. I would hope the delegates were more prepared for their world of work and that they were inspired to learn more. But how broad was that inspiration? Did they become self-motivated learners keen to go beyond the traditional training course to further develop themselves?

This leads me to the present day; my title changed from instructor to trainer to L&D professional/facilitator. How do I define though whether I am educating, training or helping people to learn?

A few years after I gained my Certificate in Training Practice, I began working with trainers, delivering the CIPD Certificate in Training Practice, then the Certificate in Learning and Development Practice. Through my accelerated learning programmes, I further worked with L&D professionals to help them learn more about an approach that has been taking shape over many years. An approach that helps me focus on organisational needs as well as learner requirements. Programmes that took 8 months of weekly 4 hour sessions, were delivered in 8 one day sessions moving to a well-known learning provider. Now I deliver a 6-week programme, which includes a 2 day workshop and I cannot possibly ‘cover’ all I used to.

Leading by example and walking-the -talk have been driving forces in our organisation “How to Accelerate Learning”. Facilitation is practiced and runs like an invisible thread through the programmes. Inspiring resources and innovative ways of learning through gamification, create a different feel to the programme, leaving many people “inspired” – their words not ours. Even hardened trainers with years of experience under their belts talk of how different it feels.

This has not always been a deliberate intention, but a on occasions, a happy and accidental one. One that we persist with because of the results we achieve and the feedback we get. We put effort into:

  • Drilling deeper into needs to see if learning is the appropriate course of action
  • Delivering learning via a blend of activities not just training
  • Helping people to gain confidence in stepping out of their comfort zone – to experience new ways to help people learn
  • Using unusual materials and resources to inspire a different approach
  • Following up the learning so it is not just a one-time event

So, I don’t feel like it is training in the traditional sense; not like when I was a VM Instructor. Nor do I feel that it is just learning because of the feedback we get. So are we educating and is that now the remit of L&D?

 

ROI – how do we create a fresh approach to evaluating learning?

This question was raised in the Creativity Zone at Learning Live 2017 by a number of people. From observation, I have noted that a great many L&D professionals and teams find evaluation tricky. From Towards Maturity report “Driving the New Learning Organisation”, the “Top Deck” are twice as likely to identify metrics they want to improve through learning. That sounds so simple and yet there are many organisations not doing this. This may be for a number of reasons:

 

  • Lack of clarity about who to talk to about the important metrics
  • Lack of knowledge in how this data could be captured
  • Lack of confidence in an approach that might work

Our Learning Loop Approach gets people thinking about the end before they rush into a solution. Care is taken to engage with stakeholders. Objectives are set rather than woolly aims. Performance objectives are used to drive better performance. Learning objectives are leveraged to help improve performance and a culture of social and self-reliant learning is encouraged.

So what might we advise you to do to start a fresh approach to ROI:

  • Identify your key stakeholders
  • Spend most time with the “evangelists”, asking them what performance improvements they need and how these could be achieved through learning
  • Ask them which metrics will help THEM know the desired outcomes have been achieved
  • Get THEM to measure these outcomes instead of you in L&D sweating about how to get hold of the right numbers
  • Look at the MANY different ways that you can measure if learning has been effective as part of a larger evaluation strategy (see below for MANY different ways to evaluate)

Go on take a fresh approach and become a new type of learning leader that will forge a new way into this century!

We don’t do train-the–trainer (not in the traditional sense)

It’s not an intentional thing, more accidental, that we have called ourselves “Trainers of trainers”. It is something that people understand, but I feel now it is no longer appropriate due to:

The changing role of L&D and professionals
• The emerging “New Learning Organisation**” as defined by Jane Daly and Laura Overton from Towards Maturity
• We actually don’t just train trainers in how to train! (It is so much more!)

 

So what do we do? We help organisations, line managers, teams and individuals to:

Have a strategic outlook when considering how people will learn to improve performance
• Learn how to engage with stakeholders and leverage them when looking for support and resources
• Be curious and dig deeper to find out underlying issues to find out what is needed
• To choose a complimentary blend of opportunities to help people improve their performance (#100ways2learn)
• Use accelerated learning principles so that the learning is sticky
• Be agile and fast
• Use a facilitative approach when doing any learning interventions rather than traditional trainer-led methods
• Build a cohesive learning community that benefits the whole organisation
• Open up to new ways of doing things
• Be motivated and inspired enough to have a go

Our open and in-house workshops do much more than “train” in the skills and knowledge required to become a new learning leader, for the new learning organisation. Through unique and innovative practices we have seen teams:

  • Have a mind-set shift in their thinking about how they approach learning
  • Become more cohesive a team in their approach to improving performance
  • Be inspired to make a real and measurable difference to the organisation by helping people learn how to improve their performance

**To compliment the “New Learning Organisation” we have developed our first draft on the “New Learning Leader”:

The visual is above but the detail is below:

  1. Has clarity of purpose
    • Business focused but also learner centred
    • Strategically focused to deliver what the organisation needs
    • Curious and analytical
    • Able to engage stakeholders in order to leverage essential resources and achieve the ROI required
    • In tune with what the organisation needs
  2. Helps create a holistic people experience
    • Helps to nurture and encourage an environment where people are developed consistently and with heart
    • Clearly defined and easy to apply models and frameworks
  3. Supports and nurtures a thriving ecosystem
    • Knows how to encourage a learning culture
    • Inspires a culture of feedback and healthy challenge
    • Empowers people to learn for themselves
    • In learning interventions inspires others to learn more and share
    • Promotes accountability at all levels
  4. Agile, digitally enabled
    • Digitally courageous, not scared to experiment
    • Able to choose the appropriate method/media for the outcomes required
  5. Helps support continual engagement
    • Provides appropriate learning support when it is needed
    • Understands the way the brain works to help learning be engaging and focused
  6. Helps people make intelligent decisions
    • Makes decisions informed by the organisations’ purpose
    • Develops others capability in decision making by providing the appropriate tools
    • Applies the latest neuroscience to help make wise decisions
  7. Emotionally Intelligent self-starter
    • Has awareness of their own behaviours on others
    • In touch with their own emotions
    • Good networker
    • Loves to learn

What have we missed or what could we add and to which category?

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