What does the future hold for L&D?
I had a fascinating time at the CIPD learning and development show at Olympia last week. I left with a lot to think about because there were so many great talks and interesting ideas. One talk that resonated with me in particular was by The Open University on ‘Future Trends in Learning’. They listed 6 key trends to look out for, but there were two trends that really stood out to me.
Learning from the crowd
A significant trend moving forward lies in the ability to use external resources to share best practice and learn. So often creativity and professional development can be stifled by a perceived lack of resources, when in reality there are a plethora of materials available. How often have you sat at your desk and struggled to solve an issue when you have a mobile phone and computer next to you?
Learning for the future
The second trend is about learning for the future. Professional development activities need to have a deeper purpose than the specific topic of the session. As technology rapidly progresses and constantly changes the professional landscape, core skills and (more importantly in my opinion) curiosity are integral to future success.
How many experienced social media marketers even knew that industry existed when they were at school? Indeed the industry may not have even existed at all at the time! The point is technology continues to appear in places it did not exist a few years ago and is changing how people work. As time progresses, workplace learning is becoming far more of a necessity in order to keep up with the competition.
I spoke in my previous blog about transition and the importance of planning in making the process more effective. If you empower people to have the thirst for knowledge, you make transitions into new processes and technologies far quicker and easier.
How can we progress?
It was these points that got me thinking about an activity I recently got to play through Expedite; FreshBiz. FreshBiz is a table top business simulation that is all about learning from the crowd. It facilitates the spirit of curiosity to make you think differently and change the way you play business and life. You need to build properties and make profits in order to pass through tolls and reach your goal island. The concept of the activity is all about giving delegates light bulb moments that create curiosity in order to open your eyes to the abundance of resources that are available, but we often don’t see or acknowledge.
Monopoly is a great analogy for why we often don’t see these resources. With fear-based activities like Monopoly; in order to win, everyone else has to lose. While these activities may be fun the problem is this breeds a selfish mindset and a feeling that life is dog eat dog, when it very rarely is, and this is not conducive to curiosity or creativity.
How often do we see this in the workplace, especially in sales teams? People have different targets to hit, so they focus on their work and how to beat everyone else. They create their own personal information sheets to impress clients more than the competition and have developed their own strategies for contacting clients. One person has a really effective information sheet and follow-up schedule that consistently provides results. Why don’t they share this with the rest of the team? Why does helping others to succeed mean you won’t? It shouldn’t have to. The issue is that, partly due to fear-based games like Monopoly, we’re conditioned to have this tunnel vision.
What are your action cards?
A case in point with FreshBiz is the use of ‘Action Cards’. These are given out to individuals at the start of the game to enable players to get to their island goal quicker. Players will keep them close to their chest and they are often not used. It’s interesting because at no point were they told those cards were for them alone; they should be working together to share action cards so that everyone can move forward far quicker.
And what about learning from other teams? There is often one team who work out how to efficiently pool their resources to get to their island goal. Other teams will notice this group are motoring along and it will demoralise them. Why? We think of this as a threat when in reality it’s an opportunity to learn from the crowd. Go over there and ask them what they’ve done that has accelerated their progression so that you can accelerate yours!
Make quantum leaps
Opening your eyes to the possibilities of collaborative learning with the crowd gives you the ability to make quantum leaps in efficiency and progress. Furthermore, the beauty of FreshBiz lies in its blank canvas for players to forge their own path. It lets them find shortcuts to progression that gives them ownership over their learning. This is so important in developing the thirst for knowledge and learning, and that’s the key to getting people enthusiastically invested in future learning and transitions.