Introduction: The manifesto
Our capability as learners is the key differentiator between us and the rest of the animal kingdom.
In some organisations, not to be constantly projecting an image of hyper-capability is to run the risk of being side-lined or worse.
Delivering change through development requires joined up thinking and integrated activities.
The cost of a range of appropriate courses and training activities is much less than the cost of incompetence.
If there’s a bandwagon rolling by, you can bet a training company will jump on it.
A joined up, coherent and supported approach to learning and development is not only good practice it feels natural to us as learners.
Chapter 1: Employee Life Cycles
Newbies… may know more about some of the things the organisation boasts about on its web pages than those who have been there for years.
Management is like sex – everyone thinks they’re good at it despite limited evidence.
Linguistic fashion is a disease which regularly affects the L&D field.
Any talk about a learning organisation in which the very top people do not apparently do much learning can only be so much hot air.
Training and development is a vehicle for generating loyalty and commitment to the organisation.
Knowledge management in organisations is usually a conversation between those who already know.
It is important to develop an organisation with a memory.
If you can’t say what is going to happen at the end, you can’t build the things which lead up to it.
L&D has a habit of imprecision about terminology which is really quite scary given what it is we’re supposed to be about.
Chapter 2: The starting point
We desperately need L&D people to be futurologists.
We all love a maverick until they stop performing.
Competence frameworks are viewed by those outside HR as being of marginal relevance to the real work of getting things done.
If you can’t link your (training) programme to the measures of success already in place in the organisation, think again.
There is a distressing tendency of the L&D profession to latch on to half read and barely understood concepts.
Chapter 3: Workshops
Everyone with a laptop thinks they can be a trainer, regardless of all evidence to the contrary.
Before participants can take on new information, it is not uncommon for them to have to ‘unlearn’ old ways of doing things.
If you don’t use your new knowledge and skills within a relatively short space of time, then it may have been better never to have had the tantalising prospect of change for the better placed in front of you.
Chapter 4: Follow up and on the job training
If you rely on an end of workshop happy sheet for your training evaluation, you can’t measure very much other than whether the participants liked you, the lunch and the people they sat with.
Webinars have traditionally been disappointing ..because we have substituted poor presentation skills in the classroom for even worse presentations skills in cyber space.
Chapter 5: Can all the tools work together?
Rather than a quick, cheap and exceptionally dirty response to training needs, 70:20:10 is a concept that only works with a great deal of thought and thorough planning.
On the job experiences without support are just as likely to develop bad practice as good practice.
Within the 70:20:10 model, the 70% is anything but informal.
The reflection process is vital if those learning are to make sense of their experiences and fit them into a framework.
Some people are simply not that good at reflecting. The thing that happened is recalled, but why it happened, how they behaved and how things might have happened differently is still unknown to them.
Those engaged in neuro-science are increasingly dismissive of the whole learning styles idea. The categorisation of learners as a route to determining a range of instructional styles and learning experiences is not scientifically supported.
This is not to dismiss the ideas of Kolb or Honey and Mumford… It is simply to say that they did not invent these categories for them to be applied as cognitive ghettos where we each languish.
As a learning process, reading the (reflective) logs of others is no substitute for real experience and personal reflection.
The great thing about those who have been exposed to a joined up approach to the development of competence is that they never stop learning.
Chapter 6: Technology
Simply providing greater and greater access to more information – some of it of questionable provenance, can contribute to confusion, information overload and a failure to actually learn.
A bit of surprise in your visual aids can turn ‘Ho-Hum’ moments in to ‘A-Ha’ moments.
The willingness or ability of the intended audience to learn independently of a trainer is fundamental to whether e-learning will work or not.
Being supportive isn’t always about being nice.
Rubbish e-learning is better – i.e. more of the information will be retained by the audience – than poor presentations.
The ubiquitous ‘screen 2 of 24’ at the foot of the (e-Learning) screen becomes less of a guide to where you are and more of a threat.
There’s a fine line between child-like – learning as a child does, the natural way we learn most stuff – and being child-ish.
The idea that anyone under 25 can’t learn unless they’re playing a computer game is, frankly, patronising.
“If we build it will they come?” was the big e-learning question about a decade ago. We built it. They didn’t.
Your learners .. have no real desire, nor sufficient time in their working day, to initiate a series of online discussions in the hope of using the reflective process to develop their own skills and understanding.
The idea that there are hundreds of souls who feel driven to share all their knowledge with the world – without having a product to sell – is a myth.
Information seeking is important, but it’s not the same as learning.
If we take the worst practices from the training room they don’t improve just because we beam them around the world and deliver them from our desks.
Chapter 7: Knowledge Management and Performance Management
The role model we want to encourage is not only aware of how they do what they do, but why it works.
Walking the walk is one thing, but it is so much more powerful if you can talk it as well.
Role modelling is more than functional expertise – it is essential that senior people model a hunger to learn.
Catalogue the organisation’s collected wisdom, ideally in a way that supports the newly intrigued in finding things they didn’t know (that) they didn’t know.
Chapter 8: What gets measured, gets done.
A 2009 study by a UK recruitment consultancy found that 51% of CEOs of top companies now had an accountancy qualification and background. We all work in finance these days.
As soon as the only financial argument which can be made relates to cost savings, we are in danger of killing attempts at innovation and improving quality.
Without a focus on the metrics which the organisation already considers important indicators of success, justifying training spend can be highly subjective.
When reworking an existing training programme, very often what appears as cost saving is merely a cost reallocation.
Read the average outline of future strategy and your eyes will be awash with a torrent of corporate clichés and a tsunami of impenetrable jargon.
‘Going forward’ is a meaningless verbal tic. By its fatuousness it communicates more than they could ever know.
Not including L&D teams in the strategy planning process is to make a clear statement: ‘Our strategy is not based on the capability of our people’.
What if the head of L&D in your organisation was called Performance Director?
When preparing a report for the leadership team, always think about the things which keep them awake at night.
Chapter 9: Grow Your Own – managing talent
Why would we want to employ someone with business skills learned at University? This will be a skill-set which is already out of date by the time they have a chance to use it.
The most important skill for a new recruit from university will be the ability to learn.
Under the microscope of the talent review mechanism, all failures are high profile and one high profile failure may be one too many.
Thinking about developmental projects inside and outside of the organisation as externships.
The key skills gained from University should not be facts about the performance of Fortune500 companies in the past, but the ability to learn.
We must look for those individuals with the universal skills which will enable them to take advantage of the uncertainties of the future.
(If) you have employed someone who has proved that they are a skilled learner, you’d better deliver on the expectation you will have created.
If we have to go outside to (recruit those with) new ideas, the work we’re doing inside is simply not good enough in the rapidly changing environment of the corporate world.
Chapter 10: The Strategy Checklist
In resource-based strategies training and development doesn’t support strategy, it shapes it.
‘World-Class’ is, after all, just another word for good – or, perhaps very good. It isn’t a standard nor does it define a quality threshold.
If your business is committed to transferring internal staff into trainer roles, then being a trainer in your organisation should be a senior and well respected role. Too often it isn’t.
To be truly strategic, the mission should leave no member of the team – nor user of the service – under any misapprehension about what matters.
(Orgaisational) Culture without commonality has another name – we call it chaos.
The vision and the mission of the training team should drive organisational culture and help to create that common sense of purpose.