Talk to anyone in L&D about why they do what they do and I think one word will pop up time and time again. Passion.

In fact, it’s probably the one thing that joins all us L&D people together more than any other role on the planet. In my mind there is no other calling like it.

I say calling even though most people don’t decide at school that they want to become a Learning Professional, Teacher maybe, but Learning Professional – unlikely. Most people tend to find themselves in L&D through opportunities that might arise via coaching, becoming a product or subject matter expert, becoming a trainer due to in-depth technical knowledge or because hey – your a “people person”. Whatever the route that brought you in the profession for me it’s never felt like a job or a career it’s felt like a calling. They say if you find something you love you’ll never do another days work in your life. I love this saying and believe it implicitly – perhaps a little idealistic but everyone should be able find something they enjoy doing and be able to do it everyday. Sadly this happens all too rarely and I am thankful I’ve found something I truly enjoy.

So back to passion. What is it that makes us L&Ders such passionate people and why?

Wikipedia can help me out here.

Passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything.

Broken down in to its simplest state L&D and its focus is to help individuals unlock their potential becoming the best they can possibly be.

It’s quite a noble thing to feel passionate about don’t you think?

To work with a compelling desire and enthusiasm to help others be the best they can be.

Now more than ever we have wonderful opportunities to shape the way in which people can be the best they can be. Neuroscience is unlocking our understanding of the brain and technology has changed the world in which we live in just a few short years. Training in the classroom has given way to learning any time anywhere with collaboration and knowledge sharing becoming the underpinning currency of the 21st century workplace. This has led to a shift in thinking for us L&Ders and a realisation that the old way of stand and deliver, chalk and talk, sage on the stage and face to face training is just a very small (but still important) part of what we should be doing. Letting go and redefining what we can be and what we can do is just the start.

This blog was called “The Learning Asylum – Time to Escape The Mad House” because of a growing frustration in the organisation I worked in at the time seeing a huge amount of time and money being spent on ineffective learning/delivery strategies for a small return. It’s deeper than just a delivery strategy of course; it’s the technology infrastructure around us, the skills, mindset and vision of organisational leaders and Learning Professionals, the expectations and understanding of what workplace and adult learning is – all muddled together in the thing we call organisational culture.

Changing any of the above things  is hard work so if anything needs enthusiasm, desire and passion it is this. However strong feelings need to translate in to ACTION. It’s a bit like having a crush on someone – if you don’t ask the lucky person out it will always be a crush and never amount to anything other than anonymous valentine cards and heart ache.

Change has been a regular part of my working life since joining @DPGplc in 2012. I escaped the mad house with a vision that was shared by my new colleagues and was given an opportunity to shape the delivery strategy of the UK’s leading CIPD training provider.  The work that @DPGplc do always resonated with me since I became CIPD qualified with them in 2006. If you had told me then that 8 years later I’d be co-creating the learning experiences of new and experienced L&D professionals undertaking a CIPD qualification I’d have probably laughed and thrown a flip chart marker at you. But this is what I’ve been doing and we’re now 2 years in to a 3 year strategy.

A strategy that has seen us focus on our technology infrastructure putting a social Community of Practice at the heart of the learning experience we provide and introducing a LMS (yes one of those nasty evil things). System architecture & Community design is as much a science and form of art as anything I’ve ever done. Understanding our learners’ experience has been paramount to this, linking these systems together to create a digital learning ecosystem. It’s not been without it’s challenges as we have two intakes per year for our qualification programmes. That’s 4 times to learn what works and what doesn’t, 4 times to experiment and fail, change and experiment, change and succeed. Repeat. It needs agility, flexibility and courage both at an individual and organisational level. Passion is the undercurrent that keeps this moving. It’s this never ending journey that’s taking me to the US next year to speak at the ATD Conference on the subject of creating learning communities but more to come on that.

When you’re moving from a model of workshop/classroom delivery and email communication getting the technology in place to support and replace these methods is just one part of the jigsaw puzzle. Hearts and minds is more important with the confidence and capability to use technology effectively being crucial to success. It’s an evolutionary process like all change. Sometimes evolution needs a helping hand as if given the choice, people will stick with what they feel comfortable with and what they know. It’s changing behaviours……..Sometimes you HAVE to influence and indeed force people to change by providing no other option.

“If you build it they won’t come”

Well I’ve built it, the proverbial blood, sweat and tears have gone in to it over the last two years and it’s not over yet.

DPG are designing new foundation and intermediate L&D programmes following the CIPD releasing new qualifications that will launch in Spring 2015. I’m designing the new foundation Certificate in Learning & Development in Practice which I’m hugely exciting about. I’m not only designing the programme but I’ll be delivering the programme in March so it’s time to live by the sword and die by the sword. I’ll be drawing on all my experiences over the last 8 years, designing the programme using the learning ecosystem I’ve put in place and using the approaches and methods I champion. I get to help shape and influence L&D professionals new to the role or those looking to get the CIPD badge. Either way I get to role model what I believe a 21st century Learning Professional can be and what we can do. I get to coach and inspire others to think differently, helping them go back in to their organisations with new skills, knowledge and a passion for change.

It might not be right the first time, but it’s an approach I believe in. There will be opportunities to experiment, fail, change, experiment and succeed. I think this is something that will breathe new life in to the CIPD qualification experience and I hope develop a new breed of Learning Professional. One that is ready and equipped for the 21st century and one that can role model all that we can be and can deliver on what we need to.

It might not be a work of art but it’s my work of heart.