An end-of-year wish for L&D

As we move towards the end of the year, many of us will want to take some time out. It seems like it’s been another year of too much to do and not enough time to do it. This sense of being overwhelmed is widespread among everyone I talk to in our field, in every sector and every location.

And it’s based in reality. L&D genuinely is under pressure to do more, usually with fewer resources.

There’s an issue with this pressure, and it applies to everyone who experiences it, whatever field they work in. Abraham Lincoln reputedly said “If I had a tree to feel and eight hours to do it. I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax and two hours chopping.” Whether he actually said this or not, the point stands: we work best when our tools – and our brains – are sharp.

Conversely, when we work flat out, our tools lose their edge, anything achieving becomes harder, and takes longer, and we slip into a downward spiral of decreasing effectiveness.

What we’re left with at the end of this is a learning and development profession that has no time to either learn or develop. That is bad for us, and bad for the organisations and people we serve.

So, if this year it felt like you haven’t had time to pause and take a breath this year, perhaps it would be a good idea to use any holiday time at the year’s end to accomplish two things.

First, take a break. Do not read anything about L&D, design, corporate strategy or anything to do with work. Concentrate instead on unbending from the working year, stretching muscles you haven’t used for a while. And have a bit of fun too.

The second thing I’d ask is this: make a new year’s resolution. Now these are notoriously tricky things to make work, but aim to keep at this one for at least 4 weeks. If you can make it to the end of the first month of the year, the odds are you’ll carry on successfully to the end.

The resolution I’d ask you to make is this: make time to read a good book in our field. Reading helps lift your head from the remorseless grindstone of the week’s daily chores, and gives you time to reflect. It is a slow, deep process that switches your mind from the immediate to the longer-term. And with this unbending, comes an additional benefit. There’s a fair chance you’ll learn something new, and that your axe will end up a little sharper.

Happy reading.

This, my final blog entry for the year, is the preface from the December 2014 edition of Inside Learning Technologies and Skills Magazine. Click to read.

The state of L&D in two tweets

Over the past 24 hours I have had Twitter exchanges with some people who really made me think about where we are in learning and in the L&D profession, against the backdrop of the huge changes that are taking place in our working lives.

The second of these was this morning (19 December), in reply to the regular Friday morning #LDInsight Tweet chat. The question was “What would you give to learners this Christmas?” This is Katherine Chapman’s response:

Which I though summed things up beautifully.

10 hours earlier, I had been in conversation with Todd Tauber, Tom Gram and Guy Wallace about the changing nature of work and the impact on workplace and the L&D department. Todd summed up the conversation succinctly:

For me these comments are two faces of the same coin. There is an ideal state of learning integrated into the workplace that successful organisations will head towards. Those that do not integrate individual and organisational learning practices into their daily working life will lose competitive advantage and fail.

What is L&D’s role in this? It can ignore the change, facilitate it, or even lead it, but the change is happening.

Our response, and our fate, are in our own hands.



Oh dear … what I learnt from Wordle today

First Rob Hubbard produced a word cloud during a webinar to get a sense of participants’ answers to a survey (see the recording here).

Then Ryan Tracey did a summary of his year’s blogs using a word cloud (see his post Thinking out loud).

“Excellent!” I thought. “I’ll do the same with my own blog. I wonder what I have been talking about all year?” I went to and put one together. Here it is, and I’m not sure I need have bothered:2014 Blog WordleCall me crazy, but I think I can spot a trend here.

New Year’s resolution: a little more variation in the blog.

What will be big in workplace learning in 2015?

Image by SecretLondon123 (CC Sharealike licence) via Flickr

[Update 7 January 2015] The poll is now closed; it has been fascinating watching the votes come in. You can see the results below. By Monday 12th January I’ll post my analysis in a separate blog entry.

Last year I ran an online poll asking readers of this blog where they thought learning would be heading in 2014. We ended up with 13 things people thought were important – you can see the original post and results in text, or watch a video about them. The three trends for 2014 were:

  1. Maturing, widening deliver channels
  2. The networked individual
  3. The demanding business

That was the year that was Looking back on the year, I think it’s fair to say that the last two have been very much part of the scene. I’m not so convinced that delivery channels have matured as much as I expected. However, I may be missing the point. After all, in January’s Learning Technologies Conference, mobile and video are very much part of the programme. In a few years they have become an accepted part of the delivery landscape – so perhaps things really have matured after all. What about 2015? Perhaps inevitably I’m now running a variety of the same poll again. The idea is to see what’s changed in comparison with last year. Some of the options are the same, some are different. Before you vote: This is a poll about adult, workplace learning. It has nothing to do with US home schooling and opting out of standardized testing. I understand if you feel strongly about those issues, but this poll is completely unrelated. So, please choose your top three points of interest for adult, workplace learning in 2015, or suggest something else:

If you complete the poll and add something under ‘Other’, it will remain buried in the poll engine. Don’t worry. I will extract the comments and add them here, unedited. [Update 12 December 2014] Other Comments There have been plenty of interesting comments in the ‘Other’ section, with a much greater variety than last year. Here they are, unedited, so far:

Training Department Detox (undoing years of reliance conditioning) Reincarnation of LMS to support next-gen learning experiences, microlearning Apprenticeships and other post-school CPD to train incoming youth to contribute People realising the above have been a waste of money. Interactive WBTs to learning and its immediate application Learning and leadership Helping employees build their own learning ecosystems; also M2M comms Integrated Approaches to Learning (that combine above vs focus on one modality) EPSS Inspiring personalised ambition through mobile technology Automation (as a general trend but impacting on various areas) Adaptive Learning The How of doing- less talk, more action Death of the LMS as we know it The voice of the customer Micro-Learning Adaptive Learning wearable performance support tool Informal Learning Learner Generated Content

You have to love “People realising the above have been a waste of money.” Indeed, that idea that this list focuses too much on buzz words and not enough on learning is feedback I’ve also received on the LinkedIn entry about this. Please keep the thinking and insight coming. I’ll share it all at the beginning of the year.

Hangout with Elliott Masie on trends in organisational learning

Today I had the good fortune of running a Google Hangout with Elliott Masie, who was in London between trips to Abu Dhabi and Paris. We discussed one question from the script, then threw it away and went straight to queries from the online audience.