Skills for 21st Century L&D Professionals

Don at SpeexxLast week I had the good fortune to be invited to Berlin to talk at the excellent Online Educa conference.

I started by speaking at the pre-conference event run by online language and communications experts Speexx (photo above), followed the next day by facilitating a world cafe on the skills needed by L&D professionals in the 21st Century.

Cafes are great fun – all about conversation rather than speaker delivery, and I was delighted to have a great group to work with. I have also have the privilege of having attended  cafes in the past run by master facilitator David Gurteen.

Cafe 4

David’s unassuming style adds to the effectiveness of his cafes; participants discuss at tables, make notes on a shared document, then circulate to other tables and continue the discussion. The result is valuable learning and reflection at each table.

In this case I decided to formally collect the thoughts of the delegates – a multi-cultural, multi-country, multi-lingual group of about 35 who came up with excellent suggestions to two questions over the course of an hour (following my 10 minute scene-setting). This blog is my opportunity to repay them for their creativity by publishing the results of the cafe.

Cafe 1

Question 1: What skills does L&D need to succeed in the 21st Century?

In my role as chair of the Learning and Performance Institute this has been a long standing interest of mine.

Here, unedited, are the answers the group came up with, in bold if a response was given more than once:

Embrace new technologies and methods
Be lifelong learning
Communications / e-communications
Value/Proof / $ / Results
Change management
Professional / management skills
Designing learning
Facilitating collective intelligence
Decision making
From knowledge to doing
Personalization, Localization, Globalization

This is a combination of skills and values, with some detailed technical skills and some very high-level skills. There was considerable consensus over this set of skills, even though the discussion was harder and more intense when I asked the tables – after initially brain storming all skills – to choose the three they thought most important.

Cafe 2

The second question was about resources: How will L&D go about building these skills? There was a wide range of answers. Here they are, again without any editing (I’ll add links later):

Dirty learning using amateur video
‘Intro to elearning’ (book)
Telling ain’t training’ (book)
‘Training ain’t performance’ (book)
LTSI Learning Tranfer  

Facebook book groups

          Learning and Development

Learning & Development Tree

e-Learning in Developing and Developed Countries

Learning and Development, Home Centre KSA

Learning and Development SA



‘Where good ideas come’ Stephen Johnson

‘Creativity’ Ken Robinson
RSE Animate
‘Resonate’ Nancy Duarte
Best selling books in airports!

LinkedIn influencers list




Corporate learning
Weiterbildings blog
Hypothesis blog
Mindtools app
Twitter – Jane Hart
Ted Talks (put it on your LMS)
Round table discussions
How-to videos
Websites – elearning
Role models
Others who are successful
People thinkings who are good
What they do
Leveraging whoever – blogs, social, media, technology
Networking – conferences, LinkedIn
Seek out knowledge, mapping
Constantly find people who know things and use them
Masie Learning 2013 30 under 30 best resources and website

Amazon You-Tube
Excellence Centre
Knowledge Management Systems
Role rotation

Feedback 1

What a list!

My thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts.

This comprehensive list generates in me one immediate reaction: if this is what 35 people can generate in 15 minutes’ discussion, what else can we produce when we really share?

(It’s also a good argument for more cafe sessions at conferences.)

Saturday 14 December: Having created this post over the past few days of travelling, writing and speaking, I’m glad to get it up, but I’m aware there it’s of limited use without any links. I’ll add those next week when I have time.

In my role as chair of the LPI (Learning and Performance Institute) I have collected many links and resources around the professional development of L&D. Here are a few I recommend visiting:



6 responses to “Skills for 21st Century L&D Professionals

  1. First thank you for the great workshop @Online Educa. 2nd thnx for sharing this. Hope we can make it something bigger out of it.

  2. I did a little bit more and shared it here:

    I came to quite amazing results after just simple connection of dots.

    What do you think ?

  3. Interesting and engaging tips, each point is noteworthy. thanks for sharing, i enjoyed reading your post

  4. Thanks for sharing this …its use full…Secretarial Software

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s