Adjusted Development – new places, new adventures, new friends

Posted: March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

After my first published blog launching Adjusted Development I’ve been rather consumed by the day job – which happens every March so is a lame excuse.

I have though been inspired by new places, new adventures and new friends. To make this more readable, I will do this blog in 3 parts:

– Part 1 will be about my experience as a guest speaker at the ITOL Romania (Institute of Training & Occupational Learning) L&D summit 2012 in Bucharest on 29 March 2012.
– Part 2 will again be set in Romania – the Think Tank run by ITOL Romania on 28 March 2012.
– Part 3 will see me rewind to 28 February and a marvellous conference run by good friends at with Tim Harford and Freek Vermeulen.

Part 1 So ITOL Romania L&D summit 2012. How did this happen you may ask? Well, I delivered a keynote address in June 2011 to CIPD qualifications providers. In the audience was Roxana Mocanu who leads on CIPD and ITOL accredited learning in Romania. So I think what I said on that sunny day in Keele University, must have struck a chord or two with Roxana as I was invited to this event in the Q&A session of my speech..! I accepted and it became real by flying out to Bucharest on 27 March.

I will deal with the findings and things to share through this blog in reverse order, but then I never have been one for convention.

Before the event I was briefed to speak as part of a discussion panel (I LOVE being part of a panel) and then to deliver a session in the afternoon From the Learning Plan to the Learning Budget. It appears we UK practitioners share austere L&D measures with our Romanian colleagues. First the discussion panel.

Professor Valerie Anderson from Portsmouth Business School (UK); Peter Strupp – MD of Achieve Global (An American based in Poland) Magnus Persson, Lead on the Future of Learning (Sweden); Harry Bundred – Director ITOL (UK) and me. 5 diverse backgrounds, lines of sight on the world of L&D and all linked by the discussion on The Learning Organisation.

We started with an academic and slightly historical context from Valerie together with 5 key components or facts of a learning organisation
– individuals / teams; structures; shared vision; knowledge exchange; strategy.

Magnus then backed this up bringing up 5 other aspects linked to the human element of a learning organisation including mega cognitive processing..! Peter gave us insight into diagnostics, models, the importance of data management and measurement.

I closed with my take on a question posed as part of my brief…”can we create a sense of urgency for transforming the learning organisation?” In short I said “yes we can” in an Obama-esque fashion. I did though urge our audience to adopt all the philosophies of the rest of the panel AND simplify their frame of thought. I used the Fons Trompenaars method of creating a dilemma to simplify a complex problem. On the one hand – we have informal learning which makes up a learning organisation but how we do know where it is happening, how well is it happening and what is being learnt; and on the other hand -we have formal learning with processes and systems which we can regulate and measure but is not always the most timely or effective aspect of a learning organisation.

So why do we need a sense of urgency to transform a learning organisation? By its very merit, the learning organisation is likely to be one comfortable, or even heavily biased towards, positive disruption. However even if it is a disruptive organisation, it may be subject to external forces which create the sense of urgency (in combination with internal forces OR by themselves) such as legislation; market forces, customer feedback etc. From this I suggested that as change-savvy HR practitioners we should be looking outside and leveraging the learning part of the organisation to help it adapt to the force majeure coming from outside and the disruption from within.

I explained a four-stage approach which I had devised which should help transform the organisational learning process to be adaptable and capitalise on disruption.
1. Analyse and define what your existing learning processes are and what do they get you now?

2. Create a programme to transform your learning processes and in that make sure you have a top-level Executive sponsor and owner for this work. Find a friend..! From this programme generate a scale of re-modelling need for your learning processes, get agreement to them from the owner and the owner’s colleagues at top team level and then build the new models.

3. Deliver the learning models and make it more real through extensive, practically based communication. Make some it fun, brand it. Bring some colour to it and not just a monochrome programme.

4. Continue to experiment, learn, replicate the good practices and communicate some more. Ensuring the point of this – i.e. more productivity and value (in a monetary, intellectual, emotional, cultural and customer sense) – is also part of the communication programme along with some human case studies/ stories.

It seemed to hit the spot and generated some good questions which challenged the panel – how do you convince people this is worth doing? Where will people get the time to do this learning stuff when they have a day job too…all good questions and a range of responses from practical use of competencies, performance management objectives, values, leadership figures role modelling, use of the corporate R&D and L&D functions combined, powerful diagnostic tools that reveal true value and true codified issues that a learning organisation ought to solve naturally.

As we all only had 10 minutes and we wanted to open up to questions, I was unable to share some further insight I had derived through my reflections on the flight over to Bucharest. So here goes some of this

in creating a sense of urgency for transforming the learning organisation, I’d identified 9 key roles that needed fulfilling in order to deliver on the 4-step plan I’d constructed:
1. Manager (surprise surprise – someone who can drive this forward)
2. Leader (ultimately the owner: making it a key part of the corporate plan and aligned with other corporate priorities)
3. Informer (build and describe the compelling case for change and answer the “Why do we need this?” question)
4. Narrator (create factual commentary on the programme)
5. Practitioner (use continuous improvement tools as part of your process)
6. Rewarder (create a feeling of value to the learning activities so it competes with other work on the to-do list)
7. Networker (encourage and create opportunities for social learning)
8. inventor (role model and enable disruptive innovation during the process of transforming the learning organisation)
9. Pioneer (be risk aware and work to the “no such things failure, just an outcome you didn’t expect”

Note these roles are not exclusive, the totality of it or indeed assumed by the same or lots of different people. When embarking on a journey to transform the learning organisation, at different points in the process you will need these characters or characteristics.

Ultimately in transforming the learning organisation the learning itself needs to be seen as an investment and a gained resource than a spent resource and an overhead.

We agreed that an organisation IS the people. Yes there are other hard and soft assets like buildings and brand, but it is nothing without the people. People love to learn, especially where’s there’s a real point to the learning. In creating a sense of urgency to transform the learning organisation, we need our people on it, driving it, making it sharper, and capitalising on the new knowledge and insight, skills and aptitude; behaviours and attitudes. It is like a continual “upgrade” of your apps and a boost to your battery bar.

So back to the event, we shared, we enquired, and we shared some more. There was a buzz created and the best possible start to any conference I’ve been to had happened right before my eyes. I was liking Romania a whole lot more.

The rest of the day was a total success with discussions on the 21st century learning professional, the future of learning and my session on the Learning Plan to the Learning Budget. And of course I talked in the digital development movement I’m a part of with wikis; apps; bespoke e-learning; video and podcasting; social media a channels and gamification. My Romanian audience seemed to be both a little awestruck by this digital development (one post-event response form scored me low) and also incredibly excited and eager to move into that space.

So I have made a lot of new friends. My fellow speakers, the organisers, the support crew and the participants themselves. Special thank you to Ana my translator in the Romanian only session, and to Gabi for the guided tour and insight shared.
I have seen new places and I – and my fellow participants – have had a fabulous new adventure with a whole new set of adventures to come. You gotta love the development world…

Next up – unplugged and uninhibited: our Bucharest think-tank…Perry =:o)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s