2020 Vision for L&D

In her article,  3 Traits That Will Make You a Learning and Development Rock Star In 2020, on ATD’s website, Cheryl Lasse provides a compelling picture of what Learning and Development will look like from the perspective of an L&D professional.

I think she’s dead on with what they ideal fully transitioned learning function will look and act like in the future.  It is a vision that draws on marketing principles which I have previously discussed in my Do It As Marketing Does series.

Lasse groups her thoughts under three traits – Be Customer- and Learner-Focused, Be Curious, and Embrace Diversity.  While she doesn’t state it directly, I believe that there is an assumption that there is at least a developing learning culture in the organization.

Be Customer- and Learner-Focused

The learning function in the organization needs to be 100% focused on its customer – the learner.  The learner will have ownership of his/her personal learning plan.  L&D will facilitate learners in their development providing resources – curated or created – that align with the competencies required by the roles employees have and wish to have in the future.  Learners make the choices on how to meet their learning goals in an all pull, no push model.

Lasse says that this customer-focused approach means L&D must understand the expectations the organization has for each role.

The expectations are the tasks the must perform, the behaviors that make the tasks executable, and the required levels of proficiency.  That’s a competency model.

I agree with this idea.  Focusing on the competencies necessary to execute the work required throughout the organization ensures alignment with the business outcomes that should be the focus of everyone in the organization – including L&D.

Be Curious

Under this trait, Lasse charges L&D with exploring the industry, the company, and the audience they serve.  The goal is to become intimately familiar with the needs of its customers (learners) needs.  Our colleagues in marketing live and breathe based on their ability to know the customer as closely as possible.

This familiarity will enable learning professionals to develop a competency-based model of learning in which resources are readily available to meet the changing needs of learners and the organization.

Knowing the employees, how they fit in the organization and it within its industry also means L&D can lessen its learning curve when it in presented with a need for learning.  This should lead to greater efficiency, reducing costs and scrap learning and quicker turn around time from need identification to delivery of the learning experience needed.

Embrace Diversity

While I’m not sure that diversity is the best label for this trait, I agree with Lasse on the components.  What she is talking about is attending to Informal, Social and Formal Learning when creating resources activities and experiences.  The greatest focus should be placed on in-the-job learning.

…an L&D rock star will first ask, “What activity could this person perform to learn this skill?”

Created content will be microlearning, quickly digestible.  Except the most complex, large topics which will continue to require more formal learning.  Lasse suggests that the entire organization will be focused on mentoring and being mentored as a part of its culture.

L&D with be brokers of content and resources that they can provide in a matter of days to meet new needs.

One commenter on this article on td.org raised the legitimate concern that personalized learning plans might be too burdensome on management, pointing to the generally poor execution of performance reviews.  My reply to her comment was two-fold.  1) if we support it right, the employees will have more ownership of their own learning. Making the burden on the manager less of a heavy lift. and 2)  most companies don’t support or provide incentives to managers to build capabilities and schedule time to guide employees in performance development. L&D needs to spend more effort in teaching managers how to teach and less time teaching employees.  Two traits of a good learning culture.

While I really like this vision of L&D’s future, I’ll be curious to see how many can achieve this vision by 2020.

What do you think?  Is this a good vision for L&D’s future?  Is it achievable?  If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please us the comment section below to chime in on the conversation.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo courtesy of Unsplash.com

Do As Marketing Does – Part 2 Relevance

It is very clear that the changes that will impact learning and development in 2017 and beyond will require very different skills than what we depended upon in the past.   We need to look to other fields for practices we can borrow.  Learning from our colleagues will not only accelerate our abilities to serve our learners and organizations better, but the collaboration will enhance our efforts to integrate with the businesses we serve.

In 6 Things That Learning Professionals Can Learn from Marketers, Todd Kasenberg provides ideas that we can learn from our colleagues in Marketing.  I think he’s dead on with these suggestions.  The 6 things are:

  1. Address learner motivations to get engagement
  2. Be relevant
  3. Get your channels right
  4. Manage cognitive load
  5. Get then trying out (“trialling”) behaviors quickly
  6. Anticipate and handle the objections

Over the next six days, I’m going to flesh out each of these topics and how they  fit into the work we do in Learning and Development.

Be relevant

“Our learning programs need to be shaped by this same thinking that is prevailing in marketing – we need to deliver, just in time, that, what the learner needs to accomplish tasks and change behaviors.”

Of the six things that Kasenberg proposes, this the one that I feel the L&D profession has a good handle on as a goal for transforming our work and deliverables.  Microlearning, self-directed learning, embedded learning are the hot topics at conferences and across the internet.  But our focus seems to be on the end products not the processes that will get us there.

What we can learn from marketing is how they build integrated campaigns.  Google Analytics provides instant information about what we as consumers care about and targeted micro ads are created delivered into nearly every web page we surf just as we are thinking about a topic.

But the real secret is in between the data collection and the delivery of the ad.  Individualized customer profiles, big data,  and predictive analytic algorithms aid marketers who then create an array of actions across multiple channels in an effort to present you with the right message at the right time to impact your decision to buy their product or service.

Am I advocating for throwing out ADDIE, SAM, Agile or any of the other instructional design processes we currently utilize?  Not necessarily.  Though changing labels can be beneficial.  What needs to change is the nature and quality of the inputs to our processes.  For far too long we’ve been depending on limited amounts of information that has questionable quality.

  • We really don’t know our learners – not like a social marketer knows me.
  • We are just starting to understand how humans learn and how to apply that knowledge to what we design.
  • We have very little insight into how our learners are interacting with our learning experiences.
  • We have next to no factual knowledge of how/when/where our learners learn.
  • We seldom have measurable data regarding the performance changes we are trying to effect.
  • We seldom make data-based decisions regarding the experiences we design

It’s no wonder we have a difficult tying our results to business objectives.  We have no data to do so.  Even if we had the data, generally we don’t currently have the skill set to analyze it.

The success of microlearning, embedded learning experiences, and the other current hot topic solutions will likely be equivalent to most of our past efforts if we don’t radically change the inputs into our processes.

Relevance in today’s world is ephemeral.  There is an expectation that knowledge will be available when we need it.  We don’t have some remember something we learned 6 months ago nor do we value learning something today that we’ll use 6 months down the road.

Relevance in today’s world is personal.  Marketers try to know customers better than they know themselves.  They know our patterns of behavior, the history of 0ur actions, who we associate with, what we believe.  Social learning tools have some of this information.  There are initiatives in the works, like the xAPI data interoperability standard, which will make collecting it easier.

Relevance in today’s world is actionable.  Every marketing effort includes a “call to action.”  If a customer can’t take an action toward a buying decision in the moment, the likelihood they will return to take action is very low.

Next: Do As Marketing Does – Part 3 Channels

What do you think?

  • What “Calls to Action” do you think could work with learners?
  • Are you currently, or exploring, implementing follow-up activities to assure application of concepts?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

2017 Learning Trends: Custom, Adaptive, Anywhere, and Impactful

Jeff Carpenter, CEO of Caveo Learning, emphasizes the move to measuring performance improvement rather than training results in his post 2017 Learning Trends: Custom, Adaptive, Anywhere, and Impactful on Caveo’s blog.  The trends outlined in his post are based on feedback from over 100 CLO’s and other learning leaders.

  1. Deliver Learning on the Learner’s Terms
  2. Create “impact,” Not Merely “Learning”
  3. The Rise of Adaptive Learning
  4. Curation of Customization
  5. Learning Experience Gets Customized
  6. Interactive Video Pushes into the Mainstream
  7. Measure Twice, Train Once

None of the trends, in and of themselves is shocking.  Although the prediction that Gamification has had it’s time in the spotlight and will now become just another tool in the L&D toolkit is sure to stir some controversy.

But the seven predicted trends are what the profession has been working on for some.  We’re on the right path.   Individualized, anytime/anywhere, performance-focused learning has been the brass ring we been reaching for for a long time.  2017 we will have a chance to grab it.

The underlying trend in both Carpenter’s post yesterday and Josh Bersin’s post of Bersin by Deloitte’s predictions last week is urgency.  This may be L&D’s only chance to grab that brass ring.  There may not be another time around the carousel if we miss this opportunity.  Our organizations have been patient as we’ve dealt with massive changes in the workforce and emerging technologies, but it is time for us to step up and delivery.

Fortunately, there are reasons to believe we can succeed in 2017 and radically change how we deliver value to the organization. I was glad to see Caveo mention xAPI.  I believe it is going to have a greater impact in 2017 than most people are aware of today.

The challenges are real and we will have to once again stretch ourselves again.  But grabbing the brass ring is possible.  Get ready……here it comes……

(photo by camknows on Flickr.  Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic — CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence)

Bersin by Deloitte: 2017 – the Year Everything Goes Digital

Bersin by Deloitte has just released its Predictions for 2017: Everything Is Becoming Digital report.  Amongst the 11 predictions for HR there are specific predictions for Learning and Development.

2017 will be a tipping point for L&D and we will see dozens of world-class “digital learning” solutions all over the world.

Overall, the report says that, due to the rapid and non-stop changes in  technology and expectations from the business, Learn and Development has fallen behind and will continue to struggle in 2017.  The challenges L&D faces will be in a context of Massive HR transformation to a performance oriented, employee responsive digital culture that can address the impact of future work.

They predict that (comments in blue are mine):

  • Real-time feedback and analytics will explode in maturity.  While L&D isn’t mentioned specifically in this prediction, it does discuss HR as a whole.  With the advent of xAPI and cmi5 to better report today’s ongoing and often social learning focused learning experiences, we should be able to make a remarkable move forward in this area.
  • 2017 will see the launch of new and highly restructured LMS’s.  This will be refreshing for the companies in a position to adopt new LMS’s as the current LMS’s aren’t built to deal with the challenges that social and blended learning ecosystems create.  In addition, a myriad of new social tools are being launched and improved as well.  Add xAPI to the mix and L&D technology and its impact will begin a radical change in 2017.
  • Video and self-directed learning will become the dominant factors in organizational learning moving forward.  The shift to a micro-learning, “always-on” model of learning will accelerate in 2017.  Social Learning and learning eco-systems design will also contribute a transformation of the work of Instructional Designers and Facilitators.
  • L&D functions will need to be rethought and restructured.  Bersin by Deloitte points out that while L&D is aware of this change and is driving the discussion, two-thirds of all corporate learning organizations are structured with a centralized training function based upon old models.  L&D personnel and competencies need to be built into the business units to become more responsive.  New competencies, some relatively alien to many L&D professionals, will be incorporated into existing jobs  and new roles will be created.
  • L&D needs to take the lead on driving a culture change in organizations to an always-on learning focus.  They task us with showing managers that they need to drive learning because it is tied to the success of business.  We need to tie learning inextricably to performance , leadership skills, and organizational success and become marketing stars.  
  • “2017 will be a tipping point for L&D and we will see dozens of world-class “digital learning” solutions all over the world.”   2017 will make heroes out of agile learning leaders who can drive innovative and creative solutions that change the  course of organizational learning.

What do you think?  Is Bersin by Deloitte on the mark in their predictions?  is your L&D organization ready to lead this massive change?  Are you ready?

You can download this report on a complementary basis, for a limited time.

The Role of Humans in the Future of Work

This past July, McKinsey published Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet),an article on its automation study, which examined the technical feasibility of automating 7 different occupational activities. (The results are presented as a percentage of the time spent in these activities that can ben automated by current technologies):

  • Predictable physical work in e.g., manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, food service: 78% automatable;
  • Data Processing, e.g., billing, payroll processing, bookkeeping, insurance underwriting, delivery route optimization  69% automatable;
  • Data collection, e.g., customer and product info, maps and addresses, health insurance claims, 64% automatable;
  • Unpredictable Physical work  e.g., construction, trash collection, agriculture: 25% automatable;
  • Stakeholder interactions, e.g., customer service, personal financial advising. patient care: 20% automatable;
  • Expertise in decision making, planning, creative tasks, e.g., scientific and technical services, goal setting, education leadership,: 18% automatable;
  • Managing others, e.g., management, law enforcement, social services, educational: 9% automatable;

While there are other factors involved in what is automated and how much of a particular job can be, this data, along with a myriad of similar reports on the future of work, clearly demonstrates that there is a large amount of work that humans currently do that will be done by machines in the near future.  Jobs will disappear, others will be radically changed, and there will be new jobs needing new skills.

Last week, Dataconomy.com posted AI is Disrupting Everything and These 3 Industries are Next that discusses how some of these changes are happening already.

So what does this mean for Learning and Development professionals?  How do we prepare individuals and organizations for a world that is changing this radically, this fast?

Ross Dawson, a futurist who writes and speaks on the impact of technology and social networks, has developed a Framework: The role of Humans in the Future of Work in which he differentiates what work will be done by machines in the future and what will remain uniquely human.   Expertise, Relationships, and Creativity are the broad catchalls that define the capabilities that Dawson sees as uniquely human.  The framework also addresses the structure of work.  Many of these concepts are part of every day conversations amongst L&D folks:

  • WORK DESIGN
    Machine-human complementarity
    Fluid work roles
    Location independence
    Serendipitous connections
    Job sharing
    Emergent collaboration
    Continuous learning
    Analytics feedback loops
  • HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATIONS
    Aligned values
    Diverse perspectives
    Ad-hoc networks
    Internal work markets
    Culture of participation
    Mutual trust development
    External work ecosystems
    Open peer communication

I believe the L&D community is aggressively driving the items I’ve highlighted in blue through various initiatives like communities of practice, social learning, working out loud, personal learning networks, learner-generated content, collaborative learning, 70:20:10, personal knowledge mastery, etc.

While the challenge that we are faced with is daunting and will create a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety in the workforce, I believe that our profession is poised to lead the necessary change to adapt to the future of work.

I’d love to hear your perspective on all of this.  Please comment below.

SQUIRREL!

OMG!

Last night on #lrnchat, I referred to myself as a pit bull learner because I’m very tenacious about getting at the truth of information.  Which is true.

But this morning I also demonstrated I have a lot of labrador retriever in me as well.  My black lab, Diva, was good at focusing until she saw a squirrel.  Then she was off to the races chasing after that squirrel. Continue reading “SQUIRREL!”

Where are the learners?

In a post on elearningindustry.com, Kali Blunt outlines her Top 4 Reasons Your Workplace Needs Social And Collaborative Learning Technologies.

  1. Support virtual teams
  2. Provide a centralized content repository
  3. The ability to support and track informal as well as formal learning
  4. Connecting people through communities

My second biggest issue with this, and many other justifications for learning technologies (social and non-social), is that the argument is tool and functionality focused.

LMS’s are great because they can track grades and attendance.  I’m sorry, Miss Hull did just fine without an LMS when I was in 4th grade. Continue reading “Where are the learners?”