I shared the slides I used in my talk at the BILD event L&D : Looking to the Future in BILD-ing for the future (Part 1) and left the post posing two questions:

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

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

Up until 5 months ago I worked for a large corporate in the financial services industry with 15K employees across 13 sites. I worked in a centralised Learning & Development team with some great people but there were barriers to using technology to work more effectively (and support learning) like there are in any organisation. Due the nature of the business perhaps there were more barriers then most but barriers are there to be overcome are they not? Slide 14 focused on the barriers I have come across and mentioned during the talk:Quite a list and looking at the left hand column you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a lost cause before you’ve got started and I didn’t even mention budget! Let’s focus first on the right hand list however as the key to overcoming the left hand barriers lie right here. Regardless of your position in your organisation you are responsible for everything on the right hand:

  • You can change your mind-set
  • You can change your behaviour
  • You can be a leader
  • You can build relationships
  • You can change your attitude
  • You contribute to the culture
  • You can learn new skills
  • You can learn new things
  • You can change your perception

Irrelevant of everything and anything YOU are in control of these things. You can start to meet those expectations of L&D now and in the future right now by saying that you are going in to work tomorrow and you’re going to do something different. Go and find out who is working on the L&D/HR and IT strategy for the next 3 years and ask the questions

“How are we helping our people to connect and talk to each other”

“How are we helping our people to share ideas and innovate”

“How are we helping our people to collaborate and work smarter”

If you ARE responsible for the strategy then the questions still stand and I hope you can clearly articulate how you intend to do those things and how they support you making your organisation more effective, more efficient, more innovative, more open, more trusting, more engaging, more attractive to potential employees etc the list goes on.

If you aren’t responsible for setting strategy then in my opinion it comes down to the ability to influence those who don’t yet fully appreciate the power that social tools can provide. It means using all the things you’re in control of on the right hand side to influence those on the left hand side either directly or indirectly. That red person in the middle is you, regardless of where your organisation is in terms of using social technologies or indeed any technology, you have the ability to influence and educate WHY you should start to use social tools in your organisations and HOW they can benefit individuals, teams, departments and your organisation as a whole. Even if your organisation seems like it is a million miles away from using social technologies either culturally or due to technology it needs to start somewhere and why can’t that start be you?

Two videos that have inspired me over the last few years are two quite famous videos both of which have given me the courage to try and do things differently and influence, push, prod, poke and generally keep trying to encourage the adoption of new tools and methods to support collaboration, communication and learning. At times it can feel like you are trying to move a mountain but over time things will change. Even now as I’m encouraging the use of the DPG Community I’m coming across attitudes and mind-sets that see using social technologies to learn and to share anything other than social stuff as unnatural. There is still much work to be done even though there are great examples out there and things ARE moving in the right direction.

It can be disheartening and it can be challenging staying positive and trying to lead change but these two videos serve to remind me that if you want to try and change something you have to stick to your guns and if it’s something you believe is right you need to influence and lead and become and innovator in your own organisation. To give you the inspiration you need here are the two videos

Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action

Leadership lessons from dancing guy

Powerful stuff and videos that have inspired me and made me more determined to start with why and find that first follower, the early adopters and those that see the value in changing how we access learning, connect with others and ultimately how we work.

So where do you start?

Slide 15 goes someway to explaining that the start must come from you and an investment in you. Invest in you simply means take the time to learn how things work, spend time familiarising yourself with social technologies as if you don’t use them now or don’t understand how they work then you won’t be able to influence anybody. By using the tools yourself you will answer the questions WIIFM and therefore be able to show others and help others answer that question themselves. Whether it’s a LinkedIn account or a LinkedIn Group, an online community like Learning Skills, whether you have a Twitter account, Facebook or G + account or you start to blog or read others blogs and comment on them. Whether you start to curate Scoop Its like @Burrough or attend webinars on social technologies and seek out case studies on social adoption. Whatever IT is you need to learn how the tools work and learn how they can create VALUE. At individual level first and then see the impact at organisational level as this will determine whether people take you seriously and see the value for themselves or see you as just another employee spouting that social is going to change the world. In order to be seen as a leader and as a key influencer you need to wear the T-Shirt and role model and have the ability to say what you see. You need to ensure that you can legitimately challenge the hierarchy of command and control and show that there is another way and when people have a voice great things can happen.

I believe that until HR and L&D departments start to harness the power of social technologies then they will be the ugly ducklings and the caterpillars stuck in a dark chrysalis. Socials tools and technologies are the enablers to help transform these departments in to swans and butterfly’s. These two departments more than anyone else have the power and ability to change the way in which we work, they have the ability to influence the environments and create the conditions and cultures of the 21st century workplace.

The question is what part will you play?