I’ve always found attending conferences to be an interesting experience.

They’re always a little bit Forrest Gump, you never really know what you’re going to get. Some are great with interesting speakers dishing out valuable ideas and content, but other experiences at conferences can fall well short of expectations. So, with an open mind, the Australian GoodPractice team attended the recent LearnX event at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A key message 

The conference began with with a talk Rob Clarke, Head of LearnX, on connecting to your innerself. Now, while this may sound a little bit ‘woo’ to some people, it had a powerful message. It was about letting go of the pressures that have built up in our minds as a result of years of conditioning, from information we have gleaned from parents, peers and role models that we have blindly accepted and continued to propagate.

As I listened to Rob talk, it occurred to me that parallels can be drawn with the L&D profession.

As L&D practitioners, we have been raised on a diet of the same old stuff for years, usually around face-to-face, classroom based, one-off training.

At another session it was mentioned that the average person has between 70,000 to 90,000 thoughts per day. With that much going on our heads, something has to give! I don’t know about you, but I usually find the stuff that gets pushed to the filing cabinet in the recess of my brain is the stuff that I “learned” at training events and courses that I was forced to go on because a box had to be ticked or it was part of my professional development.

The Fail CV

There was also an interesting session that touched on the “Fail CV”, a concept first introduced by Melanie Stefan in 2010. Melanie is a scientist, and she said that her success didn’t reflect her long history of attempts and failures. She thought that by compiling a CV of all her failures and rejections, it would, after the initial depressing realisation of how many there were, serve as a stark reminder of what it really takes to get things right. She also wanted to try and inspire other people to shake off rejections and setbacks and start again.

Then a funny thing started to happen. A theme started to develop that carried through many of the sessions. What I kept hearing over and over again were terms like:

“Mobility”, “connectivity”, “curation not collation”, “bite-sized learning”, “learner-led”, “push to pull”, and (my particular favourite), “anywhere, anytime, any device”.

The reality for L&D is that the expectations of our learner have changed a great deal. It’s no longer just about what we need to deliver (the content) but how it’s delivered. Our diet of face-to-face, classroom based, one-off learning has to change.

A big question for L&D

This begs the question: Why do so many people working in L&D stick to the same way of doing things? Surely they're hearing the same messages that I’m hearing at these sessions? It’s high time that we started to shake off some of these ingrained ideas, stop listening to the self-talk built up over years of conditioning, and start to analyse and take note of our failures and what isn’t working.

If we can be honest about what’s not working in our organisations we can start to move forward with a new way of thinking that will work for a new way of learning. If L&D can’t support learners when they need it and in the ways they want it (anywhere, anytime, any device), then we are failing them.

Key take aways from LearnX

I had some interesting conversations with some very good L&D professionals after the sessions and at the GoodPractice stand. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of them were enthused by what they'd heard about the ‘new’ way of learning. The key take away from LearnX for me, and for many of those I spoke with, will be to listen to what our learners want and to make sure they have access to support and resources “anywhere, anytime, and [on] any device”.

LearnX exceeded my expectations and if the information sharing and if the quality of speakers stays at this level then I’ll be looking forward to the next event.

Contact our Australian team

If you work in L&D for an Australasian based business and want to hear more about how our fabulous performance support toolkits can help your employees learn smarter, then please get in touch for a chat.

Reflections image credit: Flickr (accessed 25 October 2016)