Monday, September 11, 2017

'And' Thinking - Thoughts from Learning Live 2017


Rachel Burnham writes: I had the opportunity to participate in last week’s Learning Live event, held in London and organised by the Learning and Peformance Institute (LPI).   

This two day conference brought together Heads of Learning from very many different organisations, predominantly in the UK, but with individuals from other countries participating too.   The programme included a wide range of sessions, an opening Question Time session with a panel and a keynote speech from Jeanne Meister, co-author of ‘The FutureWorkplace Experience’.  A feature of this event are the many breaks, which provide great opportunities to extend the conversations begun in sessions and I really enjoyed the conversations I had with participants and exhibitors.

It is always challenging to pick out themes from conferences of this sort – everyone will have their own take on the event, will have participated in a different mix of sessions, had different conversations and have applied their own filters to the event – but here is my take on this year’s Learning Live.

When I stand back from the event and review my Sketchnotes and memories, what stands out for me were all the ‘And’ pairings throughout the event.  What I mean by that was the emphasis on pairings such as ‘Learning and Peformance’, ‘Creation and Curation’, and ‘Formal and Informal’,



I like ‘And’ thinking. I like the possibilities in it. The opportunity to value different approaches.  To appreciate what works when and why and in what situation.  I quite like the stretch in it, of holding sometimes seeming opposing views. I much prefer it to ‘Or’ thinking – where often one right way is promoted and the other critiqued or even rubbished.  I find ‘And’ thinking more realistic, more challenging, more fruitful as a broad approach.  (Though I do realise that in writing this, I am setting up ‘And’ thinking in contrast to ‘Or’ thinking, which means I am indulging in some ‘Or’ thinking myself!)

The ‘And’ thinking began early on in the event, when digital transformation was discussed in the Question Time session and one of the panel members talked about how digital learning can now bring both ‘rich’ experiences and also ‘reach’ a wide number of people.  

Many sessions discussed ‘content creation & curation’ – in her keynote, Jeanne Meister shared the example of GE’s digital curated platform ‘BrilliantYOU’ – a learning marketplace including all sorts of different kinds of learning support – micro-learning, courses, and also user generated materials ie created materials.  It was interesting to hear that GE offer help to employees on how to contribute your knowledge and create resources to share that knowledge eg how to write for other people. Kelly Palmer, also discussed curating content in her session ‘Learning Disrupted’.  She identified three different approaches to curating content: a) to jobs/roles/projects; b) using AI to aid curation and enable personalisation; and c) by letting Subject Matter Experts curate content.

In the session, ‘The Social Aspects of Learning’ Lucy Standing, from The Association of Business Psychology, began by warning us that she had nothing new to say, as social learning is the oldest kind of learning, though she gave us plenty to think about.  She explored some of the key ways that social learning occurs through observing others and through talking together.   She closed her session by sharing a range of research findings exploring the value of social learning as part of formal learning experiences – social learning – time to question, discuss and explore can add depth of learning.  It was interesting to see her referring to Julian Stodd’s Scaffolded Social Learning Model which brings out the value of combining formal learning with social learning opportunities. Definitely ‘And’ thinking.

In ‘Finding the Right Blend’ from Paul Cooper and Rebecca White, the emphasis was definitely on ‘And’ thinking.   The session explored how Rebecca’s organisation had begun to make use of blended learning, from a position of L&D being very face to face.  This has involved far more than simply introducing elearning. They found that digital enhances face to face, rather than replacing it, but also that there is no one right blend, what works will depend on staff, customers and the broader context.

In Julian Stodd’s own session exploring ‘Social Communities in the Workplace’, he spoke about how communities can filter and help to make sense of the huge amount of information individuals are experiencing, but the value of this will depend upon the diversity of that community.  He talked about the ‘dynamic tension’ that occurs between formal structures and social structures, each bringing value, scaling differently, but both being needed.  ‘And’ thinking.

But the biggest area of ‘And’ thinking for me was around the area of ‘learning and performance’.  Not surprisingly, it being the LPI’s event there was quite an emphasis on the importance of ‘performance’.   Charles Jennings in the opening ‘Question Time’ session said ‘Be passionate about performance’ and went on to share ‘The only metrics that count are business metrics’.   But no one was arguing that this means learning is unimportant, simply that both learning and performance need to be integrated into everything in the organisation.  For Joseph Richardson, from Lego Group, one element of doing this is to move from topic thinking to identifying what behaviours we want to trigger at different points in the process and designing learning to enable this.  Both Jeanne Meister and Kelly Palmer focused on integrating learning into the everyday.   Jeanne Meister quoted Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft about encouraging ‘Learn-it-alls rather than know-it-alls’ and Palmer spoke about how learning every day is needed and about creating a learning culture in our organisations, where for example it is OK for someone to be watching YouTube at work for learning.  Charles Jennings spoke of the relationship between learning and performance, when he shared a colleague’s take on this ‘Learning is the intelligent by-product of continous improvement in an organisation with a learning culture’.  This turns on its head our usual thought that learning leads to improved performance and recognises that sometimes it is reflecting on improved performance that helps us to see what we have learned.

I have come away from the event, with much to think about and much to action.   Which is just as it should be.

If you were part of Learning Live, I would love to hear about your takeways from the event and what you do as a result. Do share – we need these practical stories and experiences to develop our learning further.

Rachel Burnham

11/9/17


Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Collection of Sketchnotes from Learning Live 2017

Rachel Burnham writes: I had a very interesting two days, this week, participating in Learning Live, organised by the Learning & Performance Institute, which took place in London on 6 & 7 September. 

There were many topics explored in the plenary and workshop sessions throughout the two days.  Here is the complete collection of my Sketchnotes, from the sessions I participated in. 











Rachel Burnham

10/9/17

Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Skills, training and the language we use - the big divide?






Rachel Burnham writes: I feel incredibly privileged because I love my work - both the paid work I do as an L&D Consultant, working for myself and the work I do as a volunteer, whether for L&D Connect or CIPD Manchester, as a member of the branch committee and their Public Policy Adviser.  I get to do some really interesting things for CIPD Manchester that I wouldn’t get to do otherwise, such as contributing to organising the recent ‘Shape the Future’ event for CIPD.  As Public Policy Adviser I have got involved in facilitating focus groups and meetings around a very diverse range of topics from dispute resolution,  the National Living Wage, the Northern Powerhouse, to new Psychoactive Substances and EU Migration policy – and look out for exciting news in the early autumn on a new venture ‘The Big Conversation on Families, Parents and the Workplace’.

It is fascinating to be working and making things happen both in the L&D field and also in the wider HR Public Policy field.  I get to work on some different topics and also on some areas that are common to both fields.  It has broadened my perspective on the HR field – it helps me to understand more practically the connections between L&D and other aspects of HR – this has been particularly true of the recent work on EU migration policy that has impacts across many aspects of HR from recruitment, to talent management, skills development, job design & use of automation.    I get to work in different sorts of ways and with different networks of people.   And I notice some interesting differences between the L&D agenda and the Public Policy agenda and also the language that is used, even when we are discussing topics we have in common. 

For example, in the L&D world there is a lot of focus on modern workplace learning with emphasis on how we can make effective use of digital technologies and also social learning, so that learning can be much more responsive to the needs of organisations and individuals, with individuals being able to access learning as and when they need it.  And often that learning may be through access to resources, so actually may be more about performance support.  

Of course, in very many organisations face to face learning still plays a huge and important part, whether that is on its own or as part of wider blended learning programmes.   Amongst these programmes will be ones leading to qualifications – some of these qualifications may be quite sector specific eg medical qualifications, qualifications for the financial services sector or job specific eg health and safety qualifications. However, in many organisations, much learning will be uncertified particularly informal learning – without that in any way that limiting its value or effectiveness.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine how much of our learning can be certified given the rate of learning needed to be effective in some roles or the degree of organisation and job-specificity often required.

Yet in the public policy area, when skills are being discussed then the focus is largely on qualifications and the language is mostly that of training.   This feels more limited, dated and also rather confusing – I find myself wondering when a report refers to the amount spent on training or the amount of training being ‘received’ by employees – just what is being included within those figures – qualifications almost certainly, all face to face training probably, e-learning possibly, informal & social learning - it really isn’t clear, but I suspect it isn’t, learner led development – probably not.  

I was delighted to see that the recent CIPD report on skills, which I have previously blogged about, was consciously moving away from just looking at qualifications. Informal learning is mentioned (briefly), but the focus is still on this formal end of learning and the language is still largely that of training.  So there is a gap between what is happening, at least in some organisations, around L&D and the way this is being examined at a national policy level.

But I think that L&D also needs to get more engaged with the whole skills agenda and public policy area too.   It is interesting what is happening with the introduction this year of the Apprenticeship Levy, as this is impacting on so many organisations, some of whom have already got experience of apprenticeships, but there are also many organisations that haven’t previously had experience in this area.  Some people in L&D have been getting their heads around the Levy and have thrown themselves into working with it for the benefit of their organisations.  In many organisations, responsibility for apprenticeships is a niche L&D role or part of talent management role or part of a wider HR responsibility.  It feels like there hasn’t been as much discussion of the Apprenticeship Levy and its implications within the wider L&D community as might have been expected for such a broad initiative with such potentially huge impact.   The recent round of CIPD Leaders in Learning events which focused on the Apprenticeship Levy had a lower turnout than previous sessions.  In previous years I have noticed a very different mix of participants at events with a skills agenda focus, to those events with a broader L&D focus. 

So there are different groups of people engaged in discussion and action in relation to ‘Adult Training’ or the Skills Agenda field to those focusing on L&D within organisations and some different conversations taking place, with different focuses and different language.  Diversity of views can be a source of strength and bring new ideas to the fore, but if there is a lack of dialogue, if there is an absence of challenge around the differences in focus between the fields, if different language grows up and goes unexplored, then there are also big risks.

For example, are we focusing on the right things in our national statistics in this area; to what extent does it matter if the overall amount spent on workforce development is decreasing if we are spending it more effectively (if we are?); if only some aspects of workforce development are being measured, will these be focused on in policy discussions to the neglect of possibly more fruitful areas; and so on.  I worry that we aren’t talking enough together and as a result the national policy agenda is missing out on more recent thinking and practice from L&D. 

But what do you think?

Rachel Burnham



23/7/17



Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 


Image from Pixabay






Monday, July 3, 2017

Supporting Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace Sketchnote


Rachel Burnham writes:  This Sketchnote is based on Jon Bartlett’s session at the CIPD NAP Conference in June 2017.  It contains great advice for supporting emotional wellbeing in the workplace and life.  



If you would like to find out more about Jon Bartlett’s work, why not take a look at his website.

Rachel Burnham



3/7/17



Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Collection of Sketchnotes from CIPD NAP Conference 2017


Rachel Burnham writes: I was fortunate enough to participate in the CIPD NAP conference over the past weekend, 9-10th June 2017, in York.  This conference is organised annually by a team of volunteers from the northern branches of the CIPD and is one of the friendliest HR conferences around. 

The theme this year was ‘Enhancing the Employee Experience’ and a wide range of topics were explored under this heading from Emotion at work, through diversity & inclusion, to Personal Learning Networks and Apprenticeships.  

The highlight for me was the keynote given by Peter Cheese, CIPD’s CEO, who spoke passionately about the contribution of HR to organisations and society, in the context of the new Professional Standards that CIPD is currently in the process of developing.  I have heard Peter Cheese speak on many occasions, but I have never heard him speak so powerfully and movingly.  It made me proud to work in HR. 

Here are my Sketchnotes from this event, including Peter Cheese’s session.  

















Rachel Burnham



12/6/17



Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Less Talk, More Action




Rachel Burnham writes: At a large event, like this week’s CIPD L&D Show, everyone has their own experience; their own take on the event, particularly when there are 4 options for every session in the conference, plus an exhibition and stacks of free sessions on the exhibition floor all running concurrently.  It was a great pleasure to be there as part of the CIPD's BlogSquad, reporting from the event, via social media (#cipdldshow).  I do find trying to make sense of an event like this is a bit of a head-spinner and I always benefit from a bit of calm-reflection after the event.   So, here is my take on this year’s Show.

My overall impression this year, is that the focus is more practically focused than previously.   Sure, there were still some big name speakers with big picture narratives and ‘new’ or ‘newish’ things to share, but the emphasis in the sessions I participated in felt more practical, more focused on stuff you can take away and use.   And that was a welcome change for me. 

It felt good, after so many years of hearing about the challenges that L&D faces and the ways that we ‘should’ be changing to respond to those challenges by:  

being more strategically aligned, more agile, modernising learning by making better use of digital and social learning and the latest understandings of neuroscience and how our learners learn and so on (And breathe);   

to focus on ‘how’ we do this!  I know that there are huge differences in our profession in the extent to which we are aware of these challenges and these ‘new’ ways of working.  For some people in our field of L&D these messages almost seem ‘old’ news, whereas for others they are still brand-spanking new, fresh and in some cases quite shocking.   There are still a lot of organisations and a lot of ‘trainers’ still to reach – choosing my language with care and deliberation here! But perhaps a different way of reaching people is to move on from talking about what we ‘should’ be doing and that we ‘should’ be investing in developing our own L&D skills, to just getting on with it.   And that was what this CIPD L&D Conference felt like it was doing, in my experience.

Now, there was still some new research out from Towards Maturity – two new reports to dig into and learn from ‘Driving the New Learning Organisation’ and ‘Work-Based LearningDividend’ and a new set of standards/guidance from BSI for Learning & Development were launched (PD76006) – and I don’t in anyway intend to down play their value and importance and in fact I do plan to write about these in future blogs. But the rest of this blog will focus on the more practical take-aways in the sessions I participated in.  I created Sketchnotes for all of the sessions that I participated in – so do refer to these for more details of each session (I will put the session code in brackets for ease of reference to the Sketchnotes).

Dr Liz Mellon spoke about how we could create ‘agile workforces to thrive in uncertainty’ (D1) – this is distinct from discussions about the need for agile learning, design or even agile L&D functions, which I have written about previously.  She was exploring how whole workforces could be encouraged to work in more agile ways, in order for organisations to be able to cope and indeed succeed in times of change and great uncertainty.   This is a very big topic and one that has been discussed many times before – Liz Mellon’s approach was to focus on three particular elements, under the headings of Stop, Continue and Start.  Step 1 is to take fear out of the system; Step 2 to create a learning culture and Step 3 to become an authentic leader.  It was in this third step that I thought her most interesting points came.  For her being an authentic leader is more than just being yourself – she had a more nuanced message around this than I had heard before in the context of leadership, that it is about being the best version of yourself – the version of yourself that your team, your organisation needs at that moment in time.  Which involves great self-insight; the balancing of some really tricky leadership dilemmas such as around specialist/generalist, instinct and using EQ, inclusion and collaboration; and understanding how your behaviour may contradict eg asking for A but rewarding B in your teams.

In another session, I found Sarah Lindsell from PwC’s insights into ‘Designing a Future-Fit L&D Strategy’ (G2) particularly helpful and rich with her experience – so do check out my Sketchnote from this session. Her starting point was ‘Before you do anything understand your world’ and by this she was getting at that  in-depth understanding of your own organisation, it’s business, its environment, its culture and all the other aspects involved.  That is a good reminder for us all.  Here is a Storify by Donna Hewitson of the Tweets from this session.

One of the major challenges facing L&D teams in the UK at present is how to make the most of the opportunities presented by the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy this April.  In session (C2) we had the opportunity to hear from a number of organisations with long-term experience of working with apprenticeship schemes for the benefit of their organisation, as well as the individual apprentices.  It was particularly great to hear from a number of apprentices in person about their own experience and its value.  Many of these organisations are offering apprenticeships across all levels and across a number of occupational fields.   All of these organisations had invested in their apprenticeship schemes, both in time, resources and commitment throughout the organisation and as a result were also reaping rewards: such as new ideas brought into the business, highly skilled staff developed, reductions in recruitment costs for staff at intermediate skills levels, career paths established and more.  Two key messages came over to me from this session – firstly that as an organisation you need to really work out what will work best for your organisation and build partnerships with providers (colleges or private training providers) to tailor provision to meet the needs of your business.   Secondly, it is worth going ‘the extra mile’ in terms of the investment in the scheme, as that is when you get these amazing benefits. Here is a Storify by Donna Hewitson of the Tweets from this session.

In another session (F1) that included a great case study, we heard from Jack Phillips about using ROI methodology.  He spoke about how this can help conversations with senior managers and change their perception of L&D from being a cost to seeing it as an investment.  Now hearing about the benefits of working out ROI is not new and if you already have senior managers within an organisation convinced of the value of L&D investment, then this may not be a route you need to go down, but it was great to hear the practical example from EDF Energy shared by Darren Gleave about how they used this methodology and how this impacted on future conversations about L&D and helped to build the credibility of the L&D function.  Here's a Storify from Donna Hewitson of the tweets from this session.

One way that L&D can make an impact on our organisations is by upskilling managers to be more effective.   A particular focus in recent years has been in enabling managers to develop their skills in have effective coaching conversations – this is something that I think can make a massive difference in an organisation and it was the topic for session H2.   Sandra Nixon of QVC and Rhona Howarth of Nestle shared their differing approaches to doing just this and lots of practical insights were shared.   My key takeaway from this was the reminder that if you want to make a real shift in this kind of behavior, you can’t just put on a learning programme, you have to build a whole series of intiatives around the learning to reinforce and support this kind of behavior change.   Here's Helen Amery's live blog of this same session.

Finally, my two favourite sessions were the most practical of all, both filled with helpful tips, shared by practitioners with lots of personal experience in these areas.  These were the session on Webinars (A3) led by Michelle Parry-Slater and Andy Lancaster and the one on Creating Videos using your smartphone led by Dr Mark Davies (E3).   These sessions got us involved and started the process of building skills (as far as is possible with sessions designed for 80 people).  They were inspiring – do take a look at my Sketchnotes, where I tried to capture as many of the tips shared as possible. If you want to build your skills around Webinars or Creating Videos there are some good tips here.  Here is a Storify from Donna Hewitson of the Tweets from the session on creating videos.



I really appreciated this year’s focus on ‘how to’ and ‘practical tips’.  Though many of the sessions were not covering new ground for me, every single one of them gave some additional insight, a reminder, some practical tips and in a few sessions real inspiration.  So now it is definitely time for some action!

Rachel Burnham



14/5/17



Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 












Friday, May 12, 2017

Complete Collection of My Sketchnotes from the CIPD L&D Show 2017


Rachel Burnham writes: I have been fortunate to spend the last two days at the CIPD L&D Show as a member of the BlogSquad.  This is the team of volunteers who report on the conference via social media through Twitter, blogs and video tools (eg Periscope and SnapChat).  During the event my preferred medium is to Sketchnote, which I then photograph and tweet out on the hashtag for the event #cipdldshow, though I also produced a short video, using SnapChat, to capture a flavour of the second day and this is now available on YouTube.  

The conference is fast paced with up to four sessions a day and a number of different options for each of these sessions – all relevant to today’s L&D professionals.  Some sessions such as the ones on webinars and creating your own videos using your mobile phone, which I report on below, were highly practical tips sharing sessions.  Other sessions were more about giving the big picture and sharing stimulating ideas - an excellent example was Dr Liz Mellon’s session on ‘Creating Agile Workforces’.  Whilst others focused on sharing practical experience from organisations - great examples of this were Sarah Lindsell, from PwC, drawing on her experience of creating a ‘Future-Fit L&D Strategy’ and also both speakers in the session on ‘Upskilling your managers to have Effective Coaching Conversations’.    

In addition, there was also the exhibition hall full of stands and lots of free short sessions to attend.   For a flavour of this why not take a look at these two short videos, also produced on SnapChat, by my colleague Mike Shaw – Day 1 and Day 2.   I participated in a session about the launch of the new BSI standards for L&D PD76006 and you will find my Sketchnote about this below.

At this stage, my head is still reeling with the amount of information and ideas bouncing around.  I know it will take me some time to sort through and make some sense out of this.  I will be blogging on my learning and reflections from the Show over the coming days and weeks. 

In the meantime, here are all nine of the Sketchnotes I created live at the Show.











Rachel Burnham



12/5/17



Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance.