Tuesday, May 14, 2013

L&D's Role in the Future of Learning

I recently responded to the results of our workplace's people survey and made comment on the theme of development experiences as being one of the prominent areas that resonated with people, and wanted to share my response with my readers. The results made for an interesting read (but not for public consumption - sorry!) and I discovered quite quickly that the results aligned neatly with the research and the latest thinking in the learning and development field. 

There exists roughly two schools of workers when it comes to learning (roughly being the operative word, as there will always be outliers to any commonly observed behaviours). Most of us have classroom-based learning environments as our primary experience of learning, however some of us become true self-directed learners as we continue to develop, seeking to learn from others, to work outside our comfort zone, make our own connections and to judge the development we ‘get’ from the learning experiences we intentionally create for ourselves. 

On the other hand, some of us judge the development we ‘get’ as being accessed ‘out there’, from pre-determined content, pre-determined methods and pre-determined outcomes. Self-directed learners, making their own connections, inferences and tailored experiences, will almost always judge the learning they get as positive, and therefore their experience of work and their organisation as positive. Those looking for traditional methods of learning where someone else has already connected the dots and told them what they need to learn, will very often judge their experience of learning as being dependent on access to courses. This finding is echoed in an interesting newsletter by CCL faculty member Nick Petrie on a sabbatical year at Harvard: "Many people still have the sense that it is someone else's job to tell me what I need to get better at and how to do it."

I believe that there will always be a need for classroom-based learning experiences from experts who have conducted the research in their fields and have cause to share with others. However, although we in Learning and Development understand the 70.20.10 model intellectually, I think we still have some way to go in helping people make the connection that on-the-job (70% of our learning comes from this) and learning from others (20% comes from this) will always be the primary way to ‘get’ development, as opposed to seeking learning just from classroom (10%) experiences.

So how can Learning and Development find new ways to help people grow in their roles, get exposure to the right experiences and knowledge at the right time? We can do this by connecting people with new ways of learning, preparing, training and inspiring self-directed learners, improving our learning methods to enable the self-directed learner to thrive in the 21st century through technology-enabled informal learning, encouraging social media as an avenue for learning, fostering curiosity, peer-to-peer collaboration and a coaching culture and ultimately, continuing to educate people that learning, or the development they get, happens from experiencing all of these things.

"Continual, personalised learning is the key to individual growth and differentiation" as stated in a BigThink article on critical skills and learning methods for the 21st Century worker, and an essential ingredient in excelling in an unpredictable world. I believe access to external courses must be seen as just one part of the whole learning journey.

I would also like to mention the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies also has some interesting viewpoints and research on the future of learning.

So my question for my readers is what are you or your organisations doing to connect workers with new ways of learning?

Friday, April 26, 2013

The future of the Learning and Development profession

This is the question I frequently post to fellow L&D practitioners, whether that be online, at events or in my own team. It's a valuable question that contains a subtle assumption: that the profession will change and it does have a future, however it seems that the need for change is becoming urgent, as the pace of social media as well as individual empowerment and capabilities is hot on the heels of the greater global changes happening around us.

So what does this future look like? The Centre for Creative Leadership, through another thought-provoking newsletter, discovered that the role of "learning and development professionals within organisations will remain crucial. But those roles are likely to change significantly to focus on creating new structures and processes for development — so that people have access to the options and opportunities that matter most to them." Nick Petrie spent a year at Harvard talking to experts about what they see as needing to change, and the resounding response was to stop sending people on courses they don't want to go to. This sentiment goes to the heart of the 70.20.10 learning model, which states that 70% of our learning comes from 'on-the-job' or experiential learning, 20% from coaching, mentoring and feedback, with only 10% of our learning coming from formal, classroom-based programs. 

My fellow L&D practitioners agree that the future of how learning is conducted is squarely in the hands of individuals, who need to be educated and supported in taking responsibility for their own development. However, as Petrie discovered, "many people still have the sense that it is someone else's job to tell me what I need to get better at and how to do it."

Alongside this change to how people learn, the learning and development profession will undoubtedly involve building and maintaining systems and structures that support peoples' learning experiences. The question for our profession becomes:

How can we ignite the power of curiosity-driven, self-directed learning?

What do you think? How will people learn in the future? What is our role in this - to support? Connect? Facilitate? 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Gift of my Gran's Passing

I recently spent almost 7 days retreating from the world and spending the most wonderful time with my family after the death of my dear Gran. Of course, not the wonderful as in, heaps of fun and photos, but the kind of wonderful you get when you feel nourished, enriched and whole again. Gran's passing has meant that we needed to come together to remember her, and share our stories about her, and in doing so, we have added chapters to our own life stories.

The family connection and returning to one's nest is but one part of what Gran's death offered me, but with the death of a loved one comes a whole new perspective on life, especially if you've been caught up in the world of career, parenting, housing and being a wife, on the treadmill in a major city, battling traffic, runny noses, stale bread, starving chooks, hairy legs and a garden in desperate need of a weed.

So what has Gran's passing gifted me? The gift of non-attachment. Materially - "you come into this world with nothing, you leave with nothing" said my mum as we were packing up Gran's room at the nursing home. All her belongings, so much a part of her in life, were left behind. Emotionally - I have never come so close to death, my Pop having been the only other person who passed away while I was overseas when I was 12. But I faced death front on, holding Gran's hand the weekend before she died, telling her that it was okay to let go, that she needn't hold on any longer. Spending time with Gran in this way helped me to experience an emotional non-attachment to my own fate. That yes, we will all die, including me, my family, my friends. This is obvious in writing and intellectually, but is a difficult battle to accept emotionally for many people.

Finally, Gran's death propelled my spiritual growth which is a gift in and of itself. I dived into the spiritual classic, Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, reading and re-reading passage after passage on spiritual help for the dying, meditation practices for the dying, the practice of pho-wa and tonglen and the physical and metaphysical processes of death and dying. I felt honoured to have had this opportunity to practice my spirituality with my grandmother. The book is perfect for anyone needing help to come to terms with the death of a loved one. 

Yes, that's her on the couch with Archie, a photo I call 'the two fatties'.

How has the death of a loved one affected you? Have you had any exposure to The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying?

Friday, April 12, 2013

First Get Clear on How You Want to Feel

I am very excited to have purchased Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map! What struck me about this wonderful program and awesome chick is the simplicity of the idea: Instead of going after goals, hoping that you will feel a certain way, start with getting clear on how you want to feel in your life, and reshape your day, week, month, around activities that will get you to your goal of feeling that way.
"Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life."
This has really struck a cord with me and I have begun work in the workbook. When you purchase the program (if you do decide to - please use my links to her site as I am an Affiliate Partner), you'll get a whole bunch of cool stuff, including immediate access to the audio for both theory and workbook.

I will be sharing my learnings from my deep, soulful work that I will be doing. I've started from the beginning of the workbook (and am listening to her awesome playlist as I do, which you also receive), limbering up my soul with the first section being 'Rapid-fire starting.' The affect of answering questions here has been like a wake-up call to my deepest longings - I crave me time, feeling strong and full of energy, connection to like minded people, getting to yoga. Other than time or money, I want more of yoga, more inspiring others when I'm at the front of the room facilitating and delivering, and more laughter.

I really loved the question 'What do I do naturally, even though I don't want to?' This was a great question to help get in touch with strengths I possess that I'm not aware I had. Good one Danielle!

Things that bring me alive and remind me of who I am are inspiring music and videos, meditation, yoga, inspiring talks, when I deliver sessions that bring out the best of me and others, presenting something that I'm passionate about, seeing the faces of my learners as they experience fear, joy, confusion, understanding, acceptance.

What depresses my spirit: rules, boredom, politics, naysayers, mediocrity, global pain points (injustices to children and animals, poverty). People who are ungrateful.

So I've begun a different kind of journey to any that I've done before, one that is centred around how I want to feel in life.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

How authentic are you really? Carl Jung's 'shadows'.

Be brave Steph, be brave. This is what I'm telling myself as I write this post. A nervousness has arisen, a slight increase in heart rate signalling I'm at the edge of all the light I have, about to step into the darkness of the unknown. That's when I know it means something.

So I say that I'm an explorer of authenticity. When it hits me in the face that I'm not so authentic, this is hard to take. Example. I tweet something as if I know so much about the subject, when I know, somewhere in the deep gorges of my soul, this is inauthentic. Why? Probably to get attention or some other childhood hangover. But the point is, discovering and being authentic means coming face to face with those moments when I'm being inauthentic, so that I can make the positive changes I wish to see. It's catching myself stretch the truth to make myself look more knowledgeable, skillful or cooler than I really am. It's pretending to be someone I'm not, in front of someone I admire or want to like me. It's saying one thing, and doing another. If I'm going explore authenticity and live authentically, it's going to take a lot of presence, courage and strength to accept those moments when I'm being inauthentic, and pull the emergency stop. This is hard, ugly work, but it must be done. I must 'do the work', if I say I'm going to.

What I am alluding to here is an example of 'shadow work' by psychologists, yoga philosophers and curious learners. There is an excellent article on shadow work in the Australian Yoga Journal by Sally Kempton. Shadow work is based on the premise that we all have negative tendencies, or what Carl Jung referred to as 'shadows'. Our shadows could be anger, resentment, jealousy, competitiveness or, in my case, inauthenticity. I don't like inauthenticity in others, because I don't like it in myself. The goal is to allow these shadows to enter our consciousness when we feel them, so that we can deal with them and transform them, rather than trying to suppress them. Suppressed shadows can take the form of emotional reactions to a difficult colleague, frustration waiting in a queue, anger at a loved one late home from work, or judgements made about people who are fakes (yes, I do that).

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. 
Oscar Wilde

Do you claim to be authentic? What moments do you recall when you're being inauthentic? What about moments of bringing your true authenticity? Are there times when it's okay to 'act' out a certain way?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lessons for L&D professionals - Learning Cafe Unconference 2013

In my endeavour to broaden my network with like-minded L&D peeps, I registered for this year's Learning Cafe Unconference with little trepidation. I was bursting out of my skin to 'get out there' more often now that Archie had turned one, so doing something in February was going to give my 2013 networking goals a good start!

I would like to share some notes from the day, which I found extremely worthwhile, educational and promising for our line of work. It also made me feel proud to be among peers who had the same purpose as me - to help other people grow and learn, to transform their lives and those around them. I was also stoked to make some new friends and contacts, who I found very inspiring in sharing their stories and lessons learned with me.

The theme of this year's Unconference was 'At Crossroads'. Are we still the leaders in learning? People are looking elsewhere for their knowledge and the learning function is no longer seen as the place to gain your knowledge. We are being evermore challenged to do more with less, and training budgets and personnel continue to be questioned on their value.

So, what are we going to do about it? We need to focus our efforts on 4 focus areas: Effective Learning (adding to the bottom line), Performance Support (really supporting performance), Technology (leveraging this for our learners and Developing our Profession (what does our future look like?).

My lessons, in no particular order:
a.       L&D doesn’t have a right to exist if we can’t have a conversation around performance.
b.      We need to change. We need to move from reductive, reactive, knowledge rich classroom lessons, to experiential, scenario-based learning whilst at the same time, encouraging and cultivated personal/self-directed/curiosity-driven/self-managed learning.
c.       We need to move from the ‘teacher’ model (a hangover from the industrial revolution if you’ve ever seen that poignant Ted talk by Sir KenRobinson) where we tell them what to do, to savvy facilitators who have conversations, who help build capabilities, not knowledge.
d.      We need to provide different methods or avenues for learning in order to arrive at the same spot, or indeed, at a complete new spot we, or the learner, didn’t foresee.
e.       We don’t need to measure L&D, because if we’re supporting Performance properly, the performance of the individual speaks for itself. The business knows when it has been improved.
f.        Educate people on what learning is and is not. Ie is not classroom, is coaching and on-the-job. Learning is not an event; it is a lifelong experience. Focus on personal learning.
g.       L&D needs to plug the business acumen gap. We are still a way from having the necessary commercial acumen required to be effective at the table.  Learn how to read financial statements, go to AGMs, read the annual report, work within the business, know the assumed knowledge areas.
h.      If we don’t take a systematic approach or system thinking, L&D won’t work. In 08/09 our paradigms were challenged, post this was interconnectedness everywhere. L&D is part of an overall system or talent, performance etc, and we need to work together to impact strategy.
i.        Make sure we engage our business partners so that we can talk about what they want before they know what they want. The business won’t ask us to the table, we have to keep pushing. We can’t focus on the one area any more, we can’t just specialise in L&D. We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done.

Liz Griffin, Director, Global People Team for Ernst & Young, also talked about 'Leadership - Sacred Cow' - the state of Leadership Development in Australia. I will write about this in a separate post, as this ubiquitous L&D topic needs to have space of its own. 

Thanks to all the folks who put the conference together, and to each of the stream leads who facilitated the break-out sessions.