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.





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?

How are we measuring our success?

This blog is a follow up to the webinar of the same name delivered on the 25th of September 2018

In January, as soon a tickets became available for this event, there was a flurry of bookings and so they have poured in throughout the year. This has peaked my interest as to why this was such a popular event.

To find out more we went out a survey attendees and also in parallel a “Deep Dive” survey which addressed a wider look at the challenges in L&D. These were some of the findings:

These results prompted me to phone a number of people to dig deeper and here were some of the issues that were lurking behind the statistics:

In my head I am thinking, what is really going on is that people find evaluation and demonstrating value difficult because they do not do the analysis part well. Some people believe that stakeholder conversations are all they need. I believe we should have a more analytical approach in L&D, getting closer to the business and finding out what is really going on.This is what I would recommend, The Learning Loop Approach.

As part of the consultancy approach, I referred back to another showcase event “The Consultancy Approach” where we had some great conversations about what that might look like.

Finally we discussed what it would look like to have a “learning ecosystem” (phrase stolen from Pedro Valido) and hopefully that discussion is still going on via a message board we created.

If this topic has interested you then please get in touch and/or complete our “Deep Dive” survey to let us know what keeps you awake at night. You can also register your interest for our first Deep Dive event on December 4th in London.


How do we get leadership and stakeholders to engage in learning?


This was a question asked from Kate Rolfvondenbaum (UKAS). In the Creativity Zone at Learning Live 2017.

Let’s face it, this is an issue that bothers many people in L&D. Our Learning Loop Approach gets everyone involved in learning and empowered to learn for themselves.

What might be some of the symptoms of poor support from leadership or other stakeholders:

  • Budgets unexpectedly cut
  • Resources pulled
  • Participants not released from their day-job to attend
  • Lack of follow up to imbed learning
  • No real measurement of the outcomes

If you have experienced any of these you know how it feels to have all that effort go unappreciated and lacking in real support, with the danger that the original impact forecast is diminished. So, what can you do about it? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Before any initiative begins identify the stakeholders that are going to be most helpful, the “evangelists”
  • Win over with the help of the “evangelists” those who are the “snipers”. In other words, those stakeholders that might scupper the whole initiative because they do not support you, but have influence in the organisation
  • Find out what changes in performance they REALLY need to see and ask how they will know if they have achieved their desired outcomes.
  • Get them involved in as many ways as possible – from introducing the initiative to supporting people an being a part of the “marketing“ campaign
  • Get them to engage with the line managers of those attending the initiative and stress the importance of the line manager follow up to imbed learning

Would love to hear your views of other things that would help.



THINK before you speak…

img_2172Sometimes it takes an inspiring event like Learning Live to jog me into writing a blog and at other times, something upsetting may make me reflect, learn, ponder and blog.

In the last week it has been the latter that has made me ponder. What it has brought to mind is the way in which we give feedback, or even speak to others, that before we do it, we should THINK.

I worked for IBM many years ago as an IT trainer and in that time, there was an acronym (THINK) which was used by the organisation. Since then it has floated over to other arenas as guidance on how to say something and actually whether indeed you should say it.

So here it is. If you are thinking of feeding back to someone or even telling someone what you THINK, consider:

  • T – is it true?
  • H – is it helpful?
  • I – is it inspiring?
  • N – is it necessary?
  • K – is it kind?

If it is not all of these, what is the risk to the other person? In my case it has been a mild case of “can’t be bothered” followed by a little ” feeling-sorry-for-myself-itis”, but for others it may go much deeper. Considering we just had “World Mental Health Day” on the 10th of October, maybe a reflection of what we say and how we say it is never a bad thing!

The best way to learn is ………?

Learning stylesThere is a storm brewing …. and it is all about learning styles…. the storm says we learn best when we follow our natural style… but on the other hand, it says that this is rubbish. So let us look at this from a sensible view point……

Think about the Honey and Mumford learning styles and let us imagine you are an activist; the sort of person who really likes to get stuck in and experience things, never afraid of putting themselves forward in a learning activity to give it a go. Nothing wrong with experiencing something……. it gives us a valuable opportunity to see how something “feels” and then if we reflect on it, we might just squeeze a little more learning out of it.

I recently had a conversation about CPD with someone who was “naturally” an activist – someone just like the person described above. She decided to give reflection a go – something quite alien to her and found it an absolute revelation. For years she had believed that her natural style, was one which served her well and so rarely took the opportunity to do something (like reflecting) which seemed quite unnatural to her.

This is where I think we (as a profession) have taken the learning models such as Kolb, Honey & Mumford and sometimes even the multiple intelligences theory (Howard Gardener) and have misused them. Instead of seeing them quite simply as a palette from which we can choose and blend to make a rich, colourful learning experience, we have been telling our learners it is okay to be a “pragmatist”, or a “theorist” or some other equally limiting type.

What we need to be helping our learners to understand, is that the more variety in the ways that they learn, the more chances there are that the learning will stick. For example if you experience something new, don’t stop there…… force yourself to reflect on it and make some notes about the learning experience. Add in some relevant theories to make sense of what you have learned and then think about how you will apply this to your real-life situations. This takes in Kolbs’ and H&M’s theories but rather than limiting the learners, helps them to expand their experience and have a better chance of retaining the learning.

Neuroscience tells us that by using different senses, we engage different parts of the brain making remembering easier. For example, writing, engages the motor cortex and takes pressure of the energy hungry prefrontal cortex (the higher thinking brain). So making notes can help embed learning better than just listening or watching on its own.

Some  L&D professionals, as part of a learning needs analysis, will assess the learning styles of their learners, presumably with the intention of designing the learning to suit that style. In my opinion, it would be far better if they considered all the different ways we can learn and designed the learning intervention to be rich as well as varied.

So, make it visually, stimulating and have discussions about the topic, whilst incorporating emotions and benefits. Include reflection activities, theories, opportunities to create meaning and to explore the learning. Make the most of our playful and inquisitive natures by arousing curiosity to draw the learners in. Challenge the learners to go beyond what is their most comfortable, but make it a safe environment to do this is in. Most of all design learning with variety and think about how to make it memorable.

So my message is simple, as implied in the first paragraph……don’t limit your learners to a style, orchestrate a rich and varied learning experience for your learners and give them opportunities to learn and imbed the learning in as many ways as possible. Make it interesting, to keep them (and you) interested!

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