I recently spoke at the British Institute of Learning & Development (@BILDdev) networking event, the theme was L&D : Looking to the Future. A great experience where I met some cool new people and had some thought-provoking conversations. I’ve shared the slides that I used already and wanted to follow the slides up in more detail. There is much to share and discuss so there will likely be a few blogs. Here are the slides:

I opened up with my About.me page in order to demonstrate that  I am an active user of social media technologies and have experience with collaborative and curation tools. I asked the group what impression this slide gave about me, the first reply was that “I had no life”! After the laughter died down some bright spark @adamharwood1984 suggested that it shows that I am connected. Mafia implications aside I think this is what I’d hoped for as being connected and being a connector are important in this context, I also mentioned at this point that I thought it shows first and foremost that I’m a learner.
It was the first opportunity to give some context to what a ‘Geek with Pom Poms’ (GWPP) is. The world needs geeks but I think the world needs geeks with pom poms even more! I’d describe a geek with pom poms as someone who can understand complexity, can be very detailed and technical BUT can still lead, motivate, influence and inspire. A geek with pom poms is some one who can drive and lead change and role model things that non-geeks would shy away from. As the excellent Venn Diagram shows a geek is intelligent and obsessed and that leads to a key characteristic for ALL learners and that is curiosity.  Being curious has enabled me to experiment with technology, to throw myself in to new situations, to test to trial and to fail. Everything I’ve done has helped me learn and has allowed me to do the things I’m doing now. Curiosity is important for all L&D and HR professionals now and in the future and it’s great to see it included in the CIPD HR Profession Map.
I made a brief reference to my journey in to L&D (baby picture knowing nothing but being excited) and in 2007 undertook my CiTP with the year after being the year I attended the Learning Technologies Conference. That was the game changer for me and has fundamentally changed my career and it sounds dramatic but my life. Everything that I’ve done since 2008 has been about building connections and using technology to enhance the way I work and raising awareness of what is possible. I mentioned the Time Line for Change that shows some key moments over the last 4 years, it’s a great case study of how things develop over time and how one thing can lead to another. The slide that shows all the different images gives a flavour of the different tools I’ve used and the E=MC2 image symbolises that working with these tools is about a formula and finding a formula that works for a given situation or business need. The victorian classroom image refers to the mind set that I kept coming up against when trying to introduce any new approach that wasn’t stand up delivery. That people weren’t learning unless they weren’t in a classroom setting and the trainer was still the centre of attention, the point power, the font of all knowledge, the feeder of the spoon. It’s the belief that people are only learning in this setting and this approach in so many organisations that needs to change. I felt disillusioned with training for sometime but through networks and new connections I saw the light. Changing things isn’t easy though and it’s hard work as I’ve touched upon before in WARNING social netWORK AHEAD but it’s a journey worthwhile taking.
I love the following slide I’M A TRAINER GET ME OUT OF HERE.  It is how so many trainers feel when the wonderful world of networks, communities and live online learning are introduced as they challenge the very premise that people need a trainer in front of them to learn. It takes people out of their comfort zone and into a place that feels uncomfortable and unnatural. If you still think of yourself as a trainer then stop right now, you train a dog not a person. You need to be so much more than a trainer, if you want to improve workplace learning and performance and improve how your business works then start to think of your teams and departments as communities. That you are a community manager who needs to understand your communities needs and enable learning through improving the flow and access to information, the connections with others and building stronger relationships. Our role should be to create environments, conditions and cultures where learning takes place everyday at point of need and in the flow of the work.
Sounds scary doesn’t it but it shouldn’t it’s just an evolution in role NOT an end to it. Yes formal learning in a classroom (e.g induction) or via traditional eLearning (not boring pager turners) forms part of this but this new role allows you to meet the needs of your workforce in a variety of ways and supports the 70 & 20 in the 70/20/10 framework. The analogy I like is swapping your hammer and nails for a batman utility belt.
Back to the slides and the introduction of the Gartner Hype Cycle. I only came across this recently in Viv Cole’s blog What is Social Learning but was able to relate to it straight away. I think you can look at the Gartner Hype Cycle in relation to L&D as a whole rather than a single technology or trigger. We’ve had an exponential increase in new technologies and social tools that has changed the very profession in which we work. This has led to a great rise in expectations but due to a combination of factors such as knowledge, skill, confidence, capability, technology infrastructure, culture, mindset, behaviours I think L&D is in the trench of disillusionment. We as a profession are trying to work out where we are going, how we make sense of the technology and use it to best effect. I think most understand this but it’s different actually making the changes and this takes time so here we are on the slope of enlightenment trying new things each day, taking our colleagues and businesses on a journey with us, being brave and removing the shackles of assumed constraints.
I’m going to leave this installment here and pose the same questions that I posed to the attendees at this point:

What are your expectations for L&D now and in the future?

What are the barriers that you see or are experiencing that are stopping this from happening?

If you have any other thoughts on the slides or what I’ve said I’d love to hear them.