What I Learned in March 2019

The three things I have picked to talk about what I learned in March 2019 are:

  1. Mental Models
  2. Data Analytics for learning professionals
  3. What we can learn from blue zones about longevity

Watch the video to hear what I learned and/or read the summary below

1. Mental Models

In March I attended a Learning Disruption workshop hosted by Arun Pradhan.  Arun is the creator of the Learn2Learn app.  He talks and writes a lot about learning agility, and mental models are a key approach he recommends people use to improve their learning.

Arun defines mental models broadly as the “concepts, theories, frameworks, heuristics, and assumptions we have about how things work in the world.”

I have been consciously using mental models for over twelve months after picking up the habit from Arun when we collaborated on a project.  He included a segment in Learning Disruption about mental models, increasing my deliberate practice using them.  I certainly find that using mental models  increases the flexibility of my thinking and efficiency of my work.

In the video I show how I store mental models in Evernote and give examples of some of the models that I use.

2. Data Analytics for learning professionals

Data analytics is a hot topic for learning professionals.  It was the key theme in the top three responses to the Global Sentiment Survey recently released by Donald H Taylor.  It’s also one of the 25 skills identified as necessary for modern learning teams in the Learning and Performance Institute’s Capability Map.

I encourage others to improve their skills working with data.  I’m consciously seeking to improve my skills working with data in my business and on client projects.  In the video I discuss what I’ve learned about the impact of outliers on small data sets from analysing the capability of learning teams.  I also talk about sources of inspiration for improving visual presentation of data.

3. What we can learn from blue zones about longevity

This is something I’ve learned from my personal rather than professional activities.  I learned I am low on iron which I believe is a consequence of adopting a vegan diet.  While investigating the benefits and challenges of a vegan diet I came across a global study of  ‘blue zones.’  These are areas around the globe with high longevity.  One aspect that is common to populations in blue zones is that those living to over 100 with high quality of life eat a 95% plant-based diet.  While I am increasing my iron intake, I do believe that a predominantly plant-based diet is healthy and will continue with it.

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What I Learned in February 2019

The three I’ve picked for Februrary’s ‘What I Learned’ video:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and the future of the learning profession
  2. Skill gap across the learning profession
  3. Workshops – less is better

Watch the video to hear what I learned and/or read the summary below.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of the Learning Profession

I attended the Learning Technologies Conference UK.   Daniel Susskind, co-author of a book called The Future of The Professions, keynoted about the future of work and AI. His keynote made me curious about the implications for the learning profession.

Susskind discussed the first wave mindset of AI from the 1970s and the second wave mindset which now exists. During the first wave, the thinking was based on the difficulty people have explaining how they perform a task due to embedded expertise.  If people couldn’t explain how they did something, then how on earth could instructions be written for a machine to do such tasks?  This thinking led to the AI fallacy – the mistaken assumption that the only way to develop systems that perform tasks at the level of experts or higher, is to replicate the thinking process of the human specialist.

In the second wave we no longer expect AI to be smart in the same ways as people.  We no longer expect machines to think in the same way as people.  This means that machines can do non-routine routine tasks.  Machines may well be able to perform tasks that require creativity and empathy, just in different ways to which humans would perform such tasks.

As learning professionals we should challenge our assumptions as our expertise may be creating blindspots.  The future of learning could look very different to the way it does now, based in part on the application of AI. This ties in with an article I read by Josh Bersin about learning technology developments. He predicts that while Learning Management Systems may not go away, they will be integrated with platforms already used to do work.  This will provide access to real-time content as we needed within relevant work platforms such as  Salesforce or Microsft Teams.

I’m now curious to challenge the assumptions and mental models that I have about what learning will look like in the future.

2. Skills Gap Across the Learning Profession

Here’s something that gave me a jolt when it was discussed at Learning Technologies. The learning profession is falling behind in skills relative to where it needs to be. Towards Maturity’s 2019 research report, The Transformation Journey, shows that readiness of profession is a major barrier to getting the results they aspire to. Over 700 learning professionals are represented in this data.  The readiness graph below shows is that skill levels are less than required across every single competency.  In fact, relative to what is needed,  skill levels have actually contracted since 2016.  What a wake up call!  Now I’m questioning whether / how the learning profession can keep up with change.

Source: Towards Maturity, The Transformation Journey – 2019 Annual Research Report

3. Workshop Agendas – Less is Better

I recently ran a full day workshop to develop capability plans for a learning team. I had planned an agenda focussed on team development when the client asked me to include an activity to develop individual plans. In retrospect, I should have resisted this request. I added it into the agenda but as it turned out on the day, I had to revert back to much of my original agenda as we really did need the time for the team capability development planning.  The lesson? When it comes to workshops, less is more!  (As an aside, I find this true of so much in life.)

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What I Learned in January 2019

The new year is a great time for renewing your energy and planning for the coming year.  In addition to making my own plans I mentored others to create future-ready Professional Development plans.  I also travelled to participate in the Learning Technologies Conference in the UK.

The three I’ve picked for this month’s ‘What I Learned’ video:

  1. Potential to integrate marketing ‘discovery’ with learning strategy
  2. Setting directional goals
  3. Storytagger app

Watch the video to hear what I learned and/or read the summary below.

1.  Potential to integrate marketing ‘discovery’ with learning strategy

I read Beth Comstock’s book ‘Imagine it Forward’ in January.  Comstock worked in senior roles in General Electric, including leading the marketing department.  As part of  her team’s role in product development she introduced a ‘discovery’ approach.  She encouraged her team to explore beyond the boundaries of the organisation to understand and determine how to respond to trends and shifts in the external environment.

I found a new perspective on the relationship between marketing and learning.  Up to this point I had thought about this relationship mainly in regard to what learning professionals can learn about branding and promotion from marketing.  My new perspective relates to the connection between the discovery approach used by Comstock’s team and the discovery that is involved in learning.  Going beyond the boundaries of the organisation to investigate what people are doing in different spaces is an effective way to learn.  I now see potential for the learning function to integrate discovery activities being undertaken by marketing with the organisation’s learning strategy.  In a learning culture, both are about understanding and responding to the external environment.

2.  Setting directional goals.

During January I mentored people to develop their Professional Development plan for the year ahead. I invited to set a goal that related to where they wanted to be in at least two years.  To help with this I encouraged them to set directional goals, rather than stricter SMART goals. Directional goals are a more high-level overarching goal.  They are not as strict with timeline or specific deliverables as SMART goals.  They offer more flexibility to adjust to what you are learning as you go, which is appropriate for longer term goals.  I found that people struggled to look this far ahead.  I lengthened mentoring sessions to help them probe what changes are occurring in their industries and how they can set goals to adapt to these changes.  Read more about what I learned about stretching and accelerating your development in my related blog post.

3.  Storytagger app

I tested out an app called Storytagger, a guided video tool.  I was asked to use it to create a preview video for my presentation at the Learning Technologies Conference.  The app guided me through a series of segments and steps to create my video.  In each segment, I could select 2-3 prompts from a selection of about 5-6.  I had a time limit on how long I could speak for in each segment. It was an easy tool to use and I thought would be a valuable tool for knowledge sharing or gathering customer testimonials.

The downside is that it’s not free and you need to buy a minimum 25 licenses with it. Clearly it’s targeting the corporate market, rather than the individual.

The upside is that it provides a neat framework for making consistent videos. The layout means you end up with a consistent approach throughout, whether you are asking others to contribute videos to your project or you are creating a series of videos.  It’s a format that you could use to guide user-generated content even without using this app.

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Are Learning Professionals Being the Adults?

Michelle Ockers outlines the future of learning while confronting the limitations of learning professionals.

The profession is divided.  Some are highly capable and progressive.  Many are unable to manage their own learning, let alone enable others to learn and perform better.”

In recent years the conversation between learning professionals has shifted.  There used to be a sense of entitlement about having a seat at the table with senior leaders.  The tone changed to one of taking responsibility.  The need to become better business partners was acknowledged. Focus moved to how to articulate and demonstrate the value of the learning function.  This made me optimistic for the future of the profession.

I now realise that progress is too slow. The 2019 Towards Maturity(1) annual report on workplace learning innovation showed that learning professionals aim high. However, they are well-short of achieving their aspirations.  This is especially so in areas that matter most to business – productivity, agility and culture.

Alarmingly, the skillset in learning teams is contracting relative to requirements.(2)  The profession is falling behind.  The most significant gaps – actually, chasms – are in understanding business problems, improving impact and supporting performance.  These skills are critical to remaining relevant in organisations.  The story is the same with digital learning. Only 30% of learning teams have required digital skills.

Learning professionals are too slow to adapt to change, build capability, and adopt new approaches.  I work with dedicated, hard-working learning teams, who are struggling to meet today’s demands, let alone prepare for tomorrow. Many are busy, overwhelmed and underprepared.

In 2018 I led the refresh of the Learning and Performance Institute’s Capability Map.(3)  This map defines the skills required by a modern learning function.  In the six years since initial publication the world of work changed significantly.   Volatility and pace of change accelerated.  Industry disruption and digital transformation became the norm. Workforces became more mobile, and work is done in more networked, agile ways.  Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are used to personalise our everyday consumer experience.

The Capability Map was given a significant overhaul in response to these changes.  Learning teams require a broader, more complex range of skills. The Capability Map contains 25 skills across five categories – strategy and operations, performance and impact, design and develop solutions, facilitate learning, and support learning. It’s clear that an individual or small learning team cannot be proficient in all 25 skills.  Even larger teams may be daunted by the breadth of capability now required.

In theory a learning professional knows more about how to learn than anyone else in an organisation.  However, barriers to entry to learning roles are low.  Too few are abreast of contemporary research.(4) Debunked, out of date practices persist.  The profession is divided.  Some are highly capable and progressive.  Many are unable to manage their own learning, let alone enable others to learn and perform better.

Fundamental knowledge is essential. Those unfamiliar with adult learning theory and lacking business acumen will fall by the wayside.

On top of this, specialisation is critical.  Individuals require expertise in a small number of the skill categories in the Capability Map.  They should choose wisely.  Workplace learning is changing rapidly.  While not disappearing, use of courses will shrink.  They will be supplanted by performance support in the flow of work. This will be powered by personalised, adaptive technology enabled by Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics.

Recognise also that the learning function does not own learning.  Additional capability can be accessed by collaborating with others.  Groups such as Organisational Development, Innovation, Business Intelligence, Information Technology and leaders are key players in building learning culture. This is the ultimate destination – an organisation where learning, working and performing are intertwined.  Such an organisation is sensitive and responsive to change and will thrive in today’s business environment.

Learning teams require a well-balanced mix of skilled specialists.  I work with progressive teams to build capability specific to their organisation’s needs.   Closing the gap invariably requires skill development.

It’s time to challenge the mantra that no-one has time to learn.  Learning professionals must be the adults in the room when it comes to development, starting with the own.   Creating space to build learning team capability is deeply responsible.  Leading by example signals to others that development is an important investment.  An intensive, accelerated burst of development is now essential to leap the skills chasm.

The learning profession is at a critical juncture.  Those who do not act now will become ineffective and irrelevant. Those who can leap the skills chasm will lead the profession to an extraordinary future.  We will orchestrate success, being integral to how organisations adapt and thrive.


Do you or your team need to make the exponential leap required to bridge the skills gap?  Michelle Ockers works with learning leaders and business leaders who see the potential of learning to make a bigger impact in their organisations. She guides individuals and learning teams to build capability. She can also help to deliver real impact from learning through strategic insight, research and benchmarking.  Michelle welcomes contact from senior learning and business leaders who wish to harness learning and make it a key lever to achieve business results.


(1) Towards Maturity conducts an international longitudinal benchmark study of learning innovation in the workplace.  Their 2019 report is The Transformation Journey

(2) Refer to The Transformation Journey, pg 31 for a graphic that clearly shows the contraction.

(3) Access the Learning and Performance Institute’s L&D Capability Map

(4)  34% of L&D professionals remain abreast of research – The Transformation Journey pg. 33

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Stretch and Accelerate your Professional Development

In January 2019 I helped over 25 people to create future-ready Professional Development plans through individual mentoring and a group webinar.

The biggest thing I noticed is how challenging it is for people to set a future-oriented development goal.  Even those who did the guided reflection prior to our session often needed help to clarify their goals.  Some struggled to think far enough ahead, focussing instead on near-term work tasks and deliverables.  Others were overwhelmed by the amount of change in work and learning and weren’t sure how best to position themselves to remain relevant.  I lengthened individual mentoring sessions to ensure we had time to set clear yet flexible development goals that built on strengths, were individually motivating and future-relevant.

I’d like to share some things that people found most helpful to stretch and accelerate their development.

(1)  Ensure you are looking ahead at least 2 years. Get your head up out of your current work.  There are a lot of changes impacting L&D. You should prepare you for what is coming.  Balance remaining abreast of industry changes with the development of relevant specialised skills.

(2)  Set directional goals rather than SMART goals. SMART goals can be too rigid and near-term.  A directional goal is more open e.g. Improve how I can use data more effectively.  Directional goals allow you to   explore a topic and maintain flexibility to adapt as you learn more.

(3)  Broaden your range of development approaches. The schema I use is learn from experience, people, and investigation*.  Investigation is about resources and courses.

(4)  Be intentional. Don’t be a channel surfer, following the conversation of others or the latest ‘shiny’ topic or social media thread.  Invest time to create a PD Plan and regularly review your progress. A directional goal will help keep you on track.   Find an accountability buddy and set up a monthly check in.  While this is not for everyone, for many (including me) it’s highly motivating to have to tell someone whether I did what I said I would each month.

(5)  Create a habit of regular reflection. We all have experiences.  The degree to which we learn from them depends on the quality of our reflection. This is a keystone habit that can create a chain reaction of positive change.  Yet few people reflect regularly.  Put a slot in your diary for regular reflection – as a minimum once a week. Additionally, build reflection into your workflow e.g. after every significant milestone on a project.

If you are interested in mentoring to help you create a future-ready Professional Development plan or sustain your development you can get more information on my services page or contact me at michelle@michelleockers.com.

* ‘Experience, People and Investigation’ adopted with permission from Arun Pradhan, creator of Learn2Learn App

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Professional Development Mentoring Competition – Make 2019 Your Breakthrough year

Get 2019 off to a great start with a professional development mentoring session with me – Michelle Ockers.  I’m giving away a one-hour online mentoring session to two people.  To enter sign up to newsletter here on my website.

Suitable for learning professionals and business leaders alike.  In this session we’ll:

* discover your top 3 development goals

* plan how you can slam dunk these in 2019

* move beyond courses to look at what you can do, read, watch and listen to

* find people and groups you can connect with

* define tactics to purposefully build your network

* identify personal practices and habits to accelerate your learning

Build your development plan and your continuous learning skills in this mentoring session.

Two prize-winners will be drawn at random from my newsletter distribution list on 4 January 2019.  For a bonus entry tag someone on a post about this completion on Twitter or LinkedIn.  You must be on my distribution list at 8am AEDT on 4 January 2019 to enter.

People from all over the globe and all professions are welcome to enter.

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My New Partnership to Accelerate Learning Transformation in Australia and New Zealand

The local conversation about learning is shifting.  I’m witnessing a strong appetite to create strategic value using new approaches. I’m delighted to be partnering with Towards Maturity as a business partner providing expert Learning Analyst services to help address that appetite.

Over 180 Australian and New Zealand organisations completed the Towards Maturity Health Check in the past 18 months.The Health Check guides you to reflect on your learning accomplishments and aspirations.   You then benchmark against others, giving insight to deliver greater impact in your organisation.  The regional interest in the Health Check is an indication of a desire for change.

I’m working alongside Towards Maturity to accelerate learning transformation in Australia and New Zealand.

I experienced the power of applying Towards Maturity’s research and services, when working with Coca-Cola Amatil and as a strategic advisor to Qantas in 2017.  It helped us understand what was really happening with learning in these organisations and identify concrete actions to move towards our goals.

In addition to my work with Towards Maturity I continue to provide independent services to business and learning leaders, helping realise the untapped potential of learning in organisations. You can view the full press release here.


About Michelle Ockers

Michelle Ockers works with business and learning and development leaders to realise the untapped potential of learning in organisations.  She is an independent strategist, mentor, facilitator, trainer and speaker.  Her partnership with Towards Maturity as an expert analyst adds to the services she provides to build learning capability and impact business results. 

Find out more about Michelle.

About Towards Maturity

Towards Maturity’s insights help organisations accelerate effective learning and performance. Their team of analysts have been collecting data on workplace learning for 15 years, which allows the provision of expert advice and data driven decisions which lead to real impact.

 Learn more about the Towards Maturity Health Check and model 

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Smart Leaders Leverage Abundant Knowledge

We embraced the advantages and opportunities of our businesses becoming computerised.Now digital technology shapes every aspect of business. Mostly there’s no going back – nor wish to look over our shoulders – at our pre-digital ways. But I’m seeing cases where technology has confused and misled.

In particular, the Information Age created an illusion. There was an imaginary future, where all company knowledge could and should be documented. This vision created an appetite that could never be fulfilled. Practices and know-how move on too quickly. Deep expertise and vital insights cannot readily be extracted from individuals. Missing pieces and emerging intelligence lie beyond organisational boundaries.

Leaders clinging to these outdated beliefs place businesses in danger. In this case, just because information can be captured does not mean it is worth doing. It’s equally hazardous for company knowledge to sit in the heads of key individuals. Operating at either end of this spectrum can produce a scarcity mentality toward knowledge and ultimately constrain growth. In order to thrive in the connected world, it is imperative to update your beliefs and practices.

Look for tell-tale signs. A small number of experts are constantly in demand to solve problems. Business-critical activities stop if someone goes on leave. People working in different locations or departments barely know each other. People work in isolation on the same problem or opportunity. Corporate memory walks out the door if someone leaves.

These symptoms indicate a scarcity mentality. A belief that knowledge is scarce leads to attempts to control it. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve overheard, “Document everything Bob knows before he leaves. Turn it into procedures and training courses.” Other controlling mechanisms include limiting access to the internet. Forbidding people to discuss their work on social media. Relying heavily on training courses to develop skills.

Attempts to control knowledge have significant shortfalls. The Information Age began over two decades ago. During this era digital storage, transmission and processing of information exploded. It was comforting to think that all know-how could be documented and managed. Organisations who tried to do this found it time-consuming and frustrating.

You just cannot document everything. Yes, some things are easy to document and worth doing so. Whether simple or complicated, they can be ‘known.’ In these instances, cause and effect are clear. Rules and standard practices can be defined.

However, there are many situations where standard approaches and cookbook answers don’t work. Novel problems arise. The context is chaotic or complicated. Additionally, some insights are difficult to express. How to identify what is really troubling an unhappy customer. How to develop a lasting client relationship. The way a production line sounds when it’s not running quite right. Even if it were possible to document everything, it takes too long. It also goes out of date quickly.

But there is very good news for anyone leading a business. Knowledge is no longer a scarce resource. We have passed from the Information Age into the Connection Age. Existing and emerging knowledge are now abundantly available. You’ll need to become a part of the network to access them.

Up to date intelligence is always available in the network. The network is where people connect with others. They can do this both internally and beyond organisational boundaries. Thanks to the internet people can find and interact with each other across the globe.

The cost to access the network is low. The upside is incredibly high.

I was asked to help reduce the impact of the pending retirement of an engineer from a manufacturing business. He was a Bob. Of course, documenting anything he knew that could readily and usefully be captured was a good start.

We went deeper to understand communication across the maintenance teams. We asked engineers and maintenance technicians who they contacted and what they discussed. We examined how they solved problems and improved processes and practices. Suppliers provided insight. Some commented, “Your people should speak to each other more.”

Having understood the existing network, we strengthened it. People were supported and encouraged to participate. It became easier for them to find others with common challenges and relevant expertise. Relationships developed through interaction. They helped each other to solve problems. Collective experience was combined and applied in new ways. Better ways to work were generated.

The pressure reduced on those who were chokepoints. Their capacity increased for higher value strategic work. This included engaging outside of the organisation to discover new ideas. Suppliers, vendors, researchers, customers and industry peers are valuable network members. Bringing the outside in renews your organisation. Innovation arrives when knowledge is not treated as a hostage.

In order to leverage knowledge for competitive advantage, treat it as an abundant resource. Flip your thinking. Knock down the walls between your people. Open the doors wide to the outside world. Connecting your people with others is sound business strategy. The result is a smarter organisation positioned to innovate and thrive.

Demolishing walls and opening doors are two of my favourite hobbies. Get in touch if you’d like help to tap into the abundant flow of knowledge and experience sitting in the network.


Michelle Ockers works with leaders who want to build agile businesses. She helps build business momentum and impact through continuous learning. Michelle welcomes contact from senior leaders who want to harness learning and make it a key lever to achieve business results. Her recent clients include Qantas, where she has guided strategic transformation of L&D.

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AITD Conference – A Strategic Perspective


The Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) lined up a very full agenda for their national conference (7-8 June).  This, along with attending a pre-conference workshop and my role as Master of Ceremonies on Day 2, kept me very busy.


My key question

The key question I took into this conference was, “What are learning professionals doing to align their work with business strategy and demonstrate their value as business partners?”  While I gained insight from several speakers, some important shifts that need to be made were missing from the agenda altogether.

Alignment of L&D to Business Strategy

Business alignment was one of the themes in the panel discussion I hosted on transforming learning in your organisation.

With Day 1 MC Chemene Sinson, and panellists Marie Daniels, Anne Le Blanc & Tony Dunford

Tony Dunford from Westpac noted that Australian learning professionals are not recognised as valued business partners in the same way as in the United States.  Many US organisations have a Chief Learning Officer and see Learning and Development (L&D) as a key contributor to change across the organisation.  He suggested Australian learning professionals need to deliver more strategic solutions and help business stakeholders to prepare for the future.  Marie Daniels from Bayer recommended using business language and aligning initiatives to business metrics.  Anne Le Blanc from Telstra highlighted the importance of anchoring the work of L&D to business strategy and putting effort into gaining the endorsement of business leaders for your work.

Learning and Agile

Renetta Alexander from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) presented on their Learning team’s journey to Agile.  Their strategic approach creates high value for the business. Thinking and working differently is necessary to remain relevant in rapidly changing organisations facing increasingly complex problems.  The BNZ team used tools from the business domain to re-examine their role.  One such tool is the business model canvas pictured.  This helped them apply business thinking and language. They adopted Agile work methods, including ‘sprint cycles’, to get closer to their internal customers and create value more rapidly.  More widespread adoption of business models and Agile approaches will build the credibility, impact and value of learning professionals.

Source: https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas

Bakers Delight Measures L&D Impact

In a session titled From demonstrating impact to having impact, Justine La Roche presented a case study from Bakers Delight.  The title encapsulated her opening point; evaluating learning initiatives should help leaders make future decisions.  This is well worth incorporating as a criterion for any learning evaluation strategy.

I especially liked her advice to “think evidence not proof” – establish reasonable expectations with decision-makers about evidence that will demonstrate success. In my experience it can be difficult for business stakeholders to clearly state how they will know if a learning initiative has had an impact.  Learning professionals need to be able to guide a discussion or discovery process to determine what success looks like and define indicators, metrics and evidence.

Learning in the Field

Gina Brooks, from Training x Design, tackled the challenge of defining business success in her presentation What business really wants from training. A client was receiving poor customer feedback. They wanted to turn this around by creating a ‘premium’ customer experience. Gina took business leaders on field visits outside of their industry to find out what ‘premium’ meant. She helped them identify the behaviours that would create this experience for their customers.  While not a traditional L&D activity, getting involved early in defining the business solution helps ensure the learning initiatives will impact performance.  It also builds relationships and establishes credibility for L&D within the business.

What was missing?

I would have liked more on how learning professionals can be better business partners. Let’s invite some business leaders to the next AITD conference. I would like to hear about the major challenges they are grappling with and discuss how learning can help address these challenges. It would also be valuable to have a manager co-present a case study and talk about the experience of working with their L&D team.

Learning professionals are starting to adopt a performance mindset.  They need tools and skills to accurately identify issues underlying performance gaps and design appropriate solutions. This could be a full day workshop.

There was a pre-conference workshop on Data Analytics.  However, this was not followed up with a session on the main conference agenda. Kudos to the AITD for introducing this course to their ongoing training calendar.

In her closing address on the future of training and learning, Wendy Perry talked briefly about automation and artificial intelligence. This would make a great conference theme!  I would like to explore how L&D can use them to detect and diagnose performance gaps and learning needs. I’m certain they can also help us deliver solutions, support, continuous learning and efficiency. At the very least, the subject warrants a keynote address.

Continuing the Conversation

Thank you to the AITD for creating a rich learning opportunity for delegates.  Let’s keep the conversation going at the AITD’s ongoing networking events and on LinkedIn.

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Explore Business Problems Before Creating Learning Solutions

There is usually a sense of urgency from business leaders and managers when they bring a request to learning professionals. They often ask for a course to be delivered.   It can be tempting to immediately roll up our sleeves and start designing that solution. However, this quick response can fail to address the real business issue and people’s needs.


Instead of rushing in, I want to identify hidden needs, underlying issues and opportunities.  Then I can design a solution that addresses real needs and creates greater business value. I have been using agile and human-centric design approaches help me to do this.

In Episode 5 of my Learning Uncut podcast, I speak with Renetta Alexander and James Scoggins from the Bank of New Zealand. They have implemented agile and human-centric practices.  They describe how these practices have enabled them to deliver solutions that better meet business needs, and do so in a shorter period.  Listen to the full podcast to learn how they have done this.

I encourage you to look more closely at one tool they mention – The Opportunity Canvas.  This is a tool they use to “unpack the business problem alongside the business.”  It shapes discussion about a problem or solution.  I like how the tool takes both a business and user perspective.  It helps us to apply two shifts reshaping learning in organisations – a performance mindset and human-centred design.  To get started using this tool I recommend this article from business entrepreneur Niklas Stephenson.

Image source: Shutterstock

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