The GoodPractice team headed over to Glasgow for a joint event with our friends at getAbstract. More than 50 L&D colleagues joined us for an afternoon of presentations and networking at the brand new Edrington office in the heart of the city. Here, we share the highlights and bring you some top takeaways from each speaker.
Along with our MD Owen Ferguson and the team at getAbstract, we were delighted to welcome speakers Peter Yarrow, Global Head of Learning and Proposition at Standard Life Aberdeen and Sean Brown, Colleague Digital Experience Manager at Virgin Money.
Peter introduced The Leading Edge Challenge Series, a major L&D project he headed up at Standard Life Aberdeen. Working in partnership with the team here at GP Towers, this campaign-style initiative was created to support the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management.
Drawing on the concept of nudge theory to encourage learning in short bursts, the project used bite-sized video content in a targeted way. Launched in October 2017 and running for 20 weeks, the initiative aimed to increase awareness of the behaviours critical for the merger’s success – strong leadership, collaboration, a focus on excellence and maintaining a positive work-life balance to name just a few.
100 video interviews were filmed with colleagues representing both businesses. They shared personal stories, advice and tips about how they embody these important behaviours, and challenged people to think about how they could apply these insights to their own learning. Peter talked about how GoodPractice and Standard Life Aberdeen worked collaboratively to implement The Leading Edge campaign, and shared insights about the challenges he and his team faced, and lessons learnt along the way.
The success of The Leading Edge Challenge Series can, in part, be attributed to the style of the campaign itself. It shared engaging stories and experiences from real people across the business, talking honestly about how they deal with challenge and change, and sharing examples of times they’ve faced difficulties. These were powerful messages which resonated with colleagues across the business. They were shared at the right time, and in a highly targeted way to guide people through the merger transition.
– Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterYarrow
GoodPractice MD Owen Ferguson was next to take the stage. In his presentation, he took a look back at GoodPractice’s last three L&D research reports, sharing the headlines findings and what they mean for the L&D profession at large. It’s fair to say that we’ve learnt a lot from asking managers about their habits, preferences and perceptions around learning, where they go to learn, and what they think of the learning tech options their L&D team provides. The results have been informative and surprising in equal measure.
One of the most interesting things we have discovered is that:
“Learning is a loaded word. There’s a view that it is something people have to make time for, and something that needs to be scheduled in for them.”
It’s one of those words that suffused with meaning from each individual’s prior experience, and that’s challenging for people working in L&D because we have a very different relationship with the word learning compared with most people. Especially recently as our understanding and appreciation for concepts like informal learning, social learning and models like 70:20:10 have developed. When you talk to most people about “learning” they have two preconceptions that are very hard to overcome:
1. They think of it as something they have to make time for outside of their normal working patterns.
2. It’s something that’s scheduled for them.
If you explicitly ask people about learning, they default to thinking about and recalling formal learning experiences, usually away from their usual work. However, if you ask people about overcoming unfamiliar challenges, situations where they have to learn and adapt, they talk about learning all the time.
– Follow Owen on Twitter @owenferguson
Sean’s presentation was about the importance of setting the right conditions for people to learn, with a focus on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). He kicked off with cracking quote from little known L&D advocate Albert Einstein, which Sean says helped set the tone for his career in L&D:
“I never teach my students to learn, I only create the conditions for them to learn.”
Who knew Albert talked so much sense about what it means to work in L&D today?!
Sean went on to share a great example which showed just how effective PLNs can be within organisations, especially when they are nurtured by just the right amount of support from an organisation’s L&D team. At Virgin Money, PLNs are really taking off, because people have a modern, personalised learning environment, easy access to inspiring content plus the technology to facilitate super quick, super effective collaboration. Interesting parallels were drawn to the way we communicate, share information and collaborate outside the work environment, with the idea that we need to ‘bring the outside in’ in order to give people that slick, easy online experience offered by the likes of YouTube, Facebook et al.
Getting the environment right for Personal Learning Networks to work well in your organisation is essential. The theme of Sean’s presentation was about how our experiences with technology, social media and collaboration platforms outside of work can be applied to the internal L&D experience. Sean and the L&D team at Virgin Money don’t specifically use the term PLN, but they do recognise the value of learning that happens across a PLN, their role in nurturing and supporting what is already there, and the need to go beyond just putting tech in place to enable connections.
– Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanBrownHRTech
We’d like to say a big thank you to our guest speakers Sean and Peter – thanks for taking the time to share your L&D work with us.
If you like the sound of this event, subscribe to our monthly L&D Lowdown newsletter and stay in the know about what we’re up to.