Archive for category Podcasts

Performance Support vs Learning – degrees of difficulty

Today I listened the The Good Practice podcast episode 108 – a discussion with Nick Shackleton-Jones about ‘What is the proper role of L&D.’ It took me a little while to get a handle on where Nick was coming from, and I don’t agree with everything he said.  I am more optimistic than Nick regarding the power of L&D professionals to shift the perception of people in their organisations regarding their role.

One very useful idea that struck me was a distinguishing feature between performance support and learning.  As summarised in my sketch, performance support should be seamless to be effective, while learning experience should be disruptive and challenging.  The value of making learning difficult aligns with Robert Bjork’s research into desirable difficulty, a term he coined in 1994.

A recent example from my experience relates to navigating the streets in new towns I visited during a seven month long road trip.  I was staying in a different town typically for one to two weeks before moving on.  I was readily able to find my way in the car from my accommodation to local amenities using a map application on my phone.  However, I wanted to be able to navigate local streets without using the phone in case this was ever necessary.  Even after driving a route several times using the application I often got lost the first one or two times I navigated unassisted in a new town.  Reliance on performance support meant diminished my recall of local routes.  Of course, I learned from these mistakes and was subsequently able to find my way around – thanks to the challenging experience.



Preparing for Podcast Interview on Learning Culture

I’m the guest on an upcoming episode of The Good Practice podcast on the topic of Learning Culture.  The discussion is being recorded tonight.  I’ve long been a fan of this podcast, so am delighted to be invited to be a guest.  I’m conscious that the episodes are around 20-30 minutes and include a ‘what I’ve learned this week’ segment.  This means that the discussion is relatively short, so I wanted to get my thoughts together in order to ensure that I can contribute concise, clear points that people will hopefully find thought-provoking and valuable.

Step 1 – Figure out what I already thought and knew

I started preparation about a week ago.  My first step was to figure out what I already knew and thought about the topic.  To do this I simply started writing short declarative statements and jotting down examples in longhand.  Before long I had three pages of notes.

I proceeded to organise my thoughts using a mind map, which quickly gave me:

  • a potential structure for the discussion (What, Why, Who, How) – turns out the guys at Good Practice liked this structure and we’ll use it as a start point in our discussion
  • a list of examples and stories I could use
  • a list of sources for further reading to round out and update my thinking

I transcribed and organised my notes into the new discussion structure in Evernote and shared this with the podcast organiser.

Step 2 – Additional Reading

The sources I found most helpful were:

10 Principles of Organisational Culture, a post by Jon Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel and James Thomas – this post helped me refine and simplify my definition of what culture is.  I also found the idea that behaviour leads mindset resonated with my experience and helps to explain why values based ‘campaigns’ that don’t align with the way things get done tend to create cynicism rather than change.

The Transformation Curve, Towards Maturity’s 2018 global learning benchmark report.  This report marks a shift in Towards Maturity’s ongoing research of what top performing Learning and Development teams do differently to provide a four stage maturity model as organisations move from optimising training to shared responsibility for learning.  Their analysis helps identify the characteristics of a culture that promotes learning.

Driving the New Learning Organisation. In this article and paper Towards Maturity identify six characteristics of the new learning organisation, where learning is a mutual responsibility.

 Step 3 – Final Talking Points 

I created a new document and made a dot point summary of the key talking points, stories and recommended sources for further reading in each section of the discussion .  I won’t share that here so I don’t spoil the podcast episode.  Also, I’ve been warned that the podcast discussion could be quite tangential.  It will be interesting to compare the final product to my talking points.

Bonus Step – Blog Post Outline

Regardless of what happens in the discussion, my preparation has helped me to clarify my thinking on learning culture and supplement it with current research.  I’ve prepared an outline of a blog post intended to inform and influence business leaders to step up in their role of building an organisation culture that promotes learning.

I’m not sure when the podcast episode will go to air – I shall be sure to write and tweet an update on this when it is live.

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Anecdotally Speaking – a Podcast to Improve your Business Storytelling

A good story engages people emotionally, and is a great way to inspire and influence people.  As Connie Malamed, one of my favourite Learning and Development authors, outlined back in 2011, stories can make learning more effective.  In the domain of workplace learning, it’s not only learning experience designers and facilitators who could benefit from improving their storytelling skills.  As we adopt more socially connected approaches to workplace learning the ability for people to tell stories effectively will enhance the sharing of knowledge and experience in networks.

Anecdotally Speaking is a new podcast that will help you to improve your storytelling in business settings.  In this podcast Shawn Callahan and Mark Schenk from Anecdote share great stories that you can tell and, even more importantly, why they work and when to tell them.  Shawn and Mark founded Anecdote in 2004 and have been focussed on helping learners to develop the skills to share stories ever since.

After listening to the first three podcasts I’m confident to recommend it as a ‘must listen’ resource for not only leaders, but anyone involved in learning or seeking to influence others through storytelling.

Shawn and Mark are excellent storytelling role models.  In each episode one of the them tells a story, then they discuss why the features of the story or the way it was told that make it effective.  They also suggest contexts in which the story could be used.  Even if you choose not to use the specific stories that they share, their discussion provides guidance as to what to look for in a good story and will help you to craft and tell your own.  They make their points clearly and concisely, with a little humour.

I enjoy the conversational tone of the podcast and the (mild) Aussie accents – at least they sound mild to me as a fellow Aussie.  At approximately 15 minutes per episode this podcast is a convenient length, and will readily hold your attention.

Listening to this podcast is a great, free way to improve your storytelling skills and repertoire,


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Podcasts for Learning & Development Professionals

I find podcasts an interesting and easy way to stay abreast of trends and developments in Learning and Development (L&D).  When scrolling through episodes of one of my regular podcasts recently I noticed a “You Might Also Like” feature on the Podcast app which suggested other podcasts that I might be interested in.  This has nudged me to expand my listening menu.  I’ve subscribed to the set below (some old favourites, mandy new) and am listening consciously to several episodes of each podcast with the intent of writing a review.

I started this process about a week ago and have two immediate observations.  The first is that it’s easy to identify ‘hot topics’ in the industry as they are being covered by different podcasts.  These topics include Virtual Reality, curation and xAPI.  The second is that a varied listening diet is healthy.  Although there may be some common topics, each podcast brings different perspectives to it based on the people who feature on the podcast and the style or tone of the show.

Please let me know if there are other L&D podcasts you like to listen to so I can try them out too.