Thursday, December 22, 2011

My own predictions for 2012

You care what I think is going to happen in 2012?  I'm touched.
Well I don't have the massive reach of ASTD or of Bersin or Training Magazine, but I do read a lot and talk to people.
So here is my big prediction for 2012.

Learning Pro's like me will be looking at ways to get out of the way better.
By this I mean that we will see a continued move towards informal learning built on social platforms. We are just a couple of years away from Millennials becoming the majority of the workforce, and it's clear that incoming millennials are the workplace learners of the current time. Yes I know that there are 3 (0r 4) generations in the workplace at the moment but the boomers are on their way out of the workforce, and the Gen X'ers are hitting levels when they don't get to do much learning as they are supposedly good at their jobs already.

So as these are our 'customers' we need to look at the environment that they thrive in.
It is digital, socially networked, mobile and googled!
These learners will not sit in a classroom and be told stuff! They will find out the stuff they need to do the job they want to do. They will use their friends, their peers, their colleagues. They will go to Google, to YouTube to Facebook and Twitter to look for it and the only reason they won't do it on the iPhones is if they have Droids!

One of the people I've learned the most from in my time as a Learning Pro is Thiagi. I've taken his concept of Rapid Instructional Design (well I learned it from him so I'm crediting him) and boiled it down to what I refer to as "The Lazy Trainer' method.  Rather than have an instructional designer spend hours prizing knowledge from a SME to boil it down into small chunks to create courseware so a learner can learn some of what the ID thinks the SME uses to do the job, just set the learners loose on the SME and tell them to get the information for themselves.

Millennials are self-directed, self starting, social learning machines.
Let's get out of their way and let them do it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More predictions for 2012

My inbox this morning contained a link to the January edition of CLO magazine. (OK I know I'm not a Chief Learning Officer....Yet!) There were some great articles including one by Bob Mosher on context and Marcus Buckingham selling his latest 'Strengths' book Standout. But the one that caught my eye was the 'A Look Ahead at Learning in 2012'  there seems to be a theme here!
Being CLO magazine their survey was of CLOs and there seems to be a bit of a turning point going on and it's not a good one.  According to their survey only 44% have a 'more optimistic' outlook for employee training & development in 2012. Down from 59% in the last 2 years.
the good news is that CLOs believe that their training will be more aligned with company objectives. If we as Learning & development people are to deserve the famous 'seat at the table' we had better ensure that what we are doing is aligned with what the rest of the business is aiming for.
One other nugget is that 'Informal learning' topped the 'Activities expected to have the most impact in 2012' list. I recall sitting in on a CCASTD meeting on informal learning earlier this year. When I suggested that if 80% of the learning in an organization is informal maybe that's where we should spend 80% of our money I felt the pressure in the room drop as 30 instructional designers and facilitators all took a sudden deep gasp of air! 
Must remember when to use my inside voice and my outside voice.
Happy Learning

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Something else from the Bersin Predictions

I promised in my Looking Forwards blog post that I'd share some other gems.
One thing that struck me was the the bullet point within their final prediction 'Talent Management Software Market: Growth, Convergence and Disruption'. The bullet was that their is interest in Single Vendor Solutions.  It said that almost 40% of the companies they surveyed were willing to sacrifice functionality for a single vendor solution.
Now as my paychecks arrive from SumTotal I have to declare that this is not an unbiased viewpoint. I know that we claim to be one of the few companies that can offer the whole suite, from soup to nuts, or maybe in the TM world from recruitment, through performance and learning management through to benefits. Coming from the HR / Payroll company that was called Accero prior to being acquired by Sumtotal I am seeing first hand the steps being taken to integrate one system into another. From my time on the client side I've seen how annoying it can be when one system does not talk to another. Building links between them takes time and energy and if those links break there is the support issue of neither supplier taking on responsibility. As such I understand the business need for single vendor solutions.

As a learning professional I'd love to have a system that shows me the competency gaps in my organisation, and allows me to automatically assign learning inside my LMS to the best candidates to close those gaps.
Is that asking too much?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking Forwards

Two things crossed my desk today.
Well let's be honest one of them landed on the desk and one of them hit my e-mail inbox.
First off I got an email telling me that Bersin and Associates have just published their 2012 predictions report. In it they make 14 predictions for things that will affect the Talent Management world next year (TM include Learning & Development according to them, so who am I to argue?) Two of them that I am most interested to read about on the train home this evening are Number 5 "Employee Engagement Takes Center Stage" and Number 7 "Performance Management will go Agile"
On the engagement front they are saying that companies will have to "specifically develop engagement, development and incentive programs targeted towards Gen-X and Gen-Y in order to grow" The companies I know of that I most respect won't be doing this....because they already have them.
On the Agile PM side they say that their research is showing that companies who perform well have moved away from annual goal setting and reviewing processes to something that is quarterly or even more often.  Shocker folks!  The Millennials have had feedback rich lives in every respect up until they arrive at work. There are some that say that these Millennials will need to adjust to how work IS.  I say that work will soon have to adjust to how its workforce is.

The other thing is Training magazine's latest issue. One the front cover it points out that Training expenditures 'shoot up' by 13% while the average trainer salary has increased by $800.

I guess we are 'the 1%'

I'll let you know what other gems I find in there. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Applying Improvisation

As I mentioned in a previous post, Learning is my profession and Improv is my passion.
You might think that the two are entirely separate places but if you thought that you would be wrong.
Although Improv is most commonly thought of as a stage skill, there are bunch of people who take improv off the stage and into a whole range of other forums, from the corporate training room to coaching sessions, from community programs to organizational change management consulting.
A few years ago these people got together and created The Applied Improvisation Network.
I've been associated with this group since 1994 and in that time I've seen them grow is lots of wonderful ways. The first event of theirs I attended was their 2004 Conference in San Francisco. I think it was their 3rd or maybe 4th. Since then they have had international conferences each year, mostly over here in North America but in 2010 they had their first International conference in Europe. I should point out that AIN Europe has been active for a while and have had at least 3 Regional conferences before hosting the full international one. There have also been regional conferences in Asia and the first AIN 'Downunder' is set for 2012.
These people all share a common belief. That the improvisational approach and skills that allow a troupe on stage to create something out of nothing, can be used in a variety of non stage ways to do some amazing things.
Personally I believe that pretty much any 'soft' skill related to interpersonal interactions can be honed and improved using pretty much any exercise or game that a improv group uses to either warm up or perform with. A skillful facilitator can frame any exercise and then debrief it to pull out points to help learners see how they could do things differently, maybe even better.
The Applied Improvisation field is gaining more and more ground. The topic is being taught in business schools around the world, in law schools and is rapidly moving into the mainstream within the learning and development fields. ASTD had Second City provide one of their Keynotes at the 2010 ICE. I've attended (or facilitated) 2 events over the last year on the topic at my ASTD Chapter. More and more books on the subject are being published.
Maybe it's time for me to look for a better way to make a living by combining my passion with my profession.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I wonder if anyone is intrested in my point of view?

Over the last few years I've been following the move of the Learning and Development world into Social Media. the concept of Social Learning is a growing idea. Experts like Jane Bozarth are wonderful sources of ideas on this topic. Over thelast 12 months I gotten more active on Twitter and various Linkedin groups around L&D. I've even taken part in a few LRNCHATs as well.The one thing I'm wondering is as a follower in this area who might even be interested in my point of view. Then today I followed a tweet from Larry Straining (The man with the most suitable name for an L&D professional I've ever heard of) that said essentially that there is no excuse for me, or anyone, not to be blogging. Well there is only one way to find out if anyone cares, or is even bothered.

And this is it.

I'm going to try and post something once a week on a topic that interests me in the L&D area. I've no idea what they will be about or if anyone else will find them interesting, but without trying I'll never know.

A bit about me

I've been involved in the Learning and Development arena for 15 or so years.
I made the move from Technical Specialist to Trainer while working for Clerical Medical back in the UK. I learned about learning via a wonderful Train the Trainer class built around Accelerated Learning by Mark McKergow and Paul Z Jackson. I joined and was active with learning organizations such as SEAL in the UK and IAL once I moved to the US. I joined The ASTD both nationally and my local Chicagoland Chapter CCASTD in 2009 and in 2011 I successfully completed my Certified Professional in Learning & Performance, and joined the CCASTD board as Co-VP of Finance.

I am also an improviser, and have been lucky enough to study at some of the great Chicago Improv schools, including Second City, ComedySportz, Improv Olympic (now called IO as the IOC have no sense of humor!) and most recently under the great Mick Napier at The Annoyance.

So Improv is my passion, and Learning is my profession.
Luckily the two come together.
In another Blog I promise to tell you all about the Applied Improvisation Network and my involvement with them over the years.

In May 2012 I moved to San Francisco with my wife. The Next adventure awaits