What’s inspiring you right now?

This post has been written by @martinccouzins, editor of LearnPatch.

In our last two chats we have focused on the skills of learning and development professionals. First, we delved into the findings of the Learning and Performance Institute’s Capability Map, which showed, amongst other things, that as a profession there appear to be big skills gaps around competency management, change management, data interpretation, communication, marketing and relationship management.

Following on from this, we looked at which skills L&D needs. Again, skills such as project management and communication cropped up.

But the gaps tell us one side of the story. This week, we want to look at where L&D professionals are turning to for inspiration. What are you watching, reading and listening in order to to seek inspiration for new ways of working and for ideas that will help transform learning at work.

And who is inspiring you? Who are the people – both in L&D and beyond – who grab your attention and make you think?

We want to find out how you stay informed. What is catching your eye right now? We hope the chat will enable us to co-create a list of resources for others to use and add to and maybe identify better ways of sharing what we discover.

And just because L&D brings us together that doesn’t mean we only want to hear about inspiration from within. We want to hear about your influences outside of L&D that inform the work you do.

Hopefully by the end of the chat we will have created a great resource to share with colleagues and peers!

Join us for #chat2lrn, Thursday 22/8/2013 at 16.00BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT

Mind the Gap – How Can L&D Address Our Skill Gaps?

In the last #chat2lrn, we discussed gaps between what we Learning and Development (L&D) professionals see as skills that we need to do our jobs better and our own self-assessed proficiency level in those same skills. Based on the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) Capability Map 6 month report, common gaps include being able to work closely with the rest of the business, being confident about analyzing data, and understanding talent and change management. [Request your free copy of the report executive summary by emailing info@thelpi.org]

MindTheGapWhile identifying these gaps is an important first step, simplified by the LPI Capability Map*, addressing them by improving those skills has been a challenge. In ways, L&D are like the cobbler’s children. But does that need to be the case?

As L&D professionals, we’re skilled at addressing skill gaps in others. We’re also adept at doing more with less and finding creative solutions to meet our customers’ needs. Is it that we avoid doing the same for ourselves or we just don’t have the time? If we don’t make time, are we at risk of marginalizing ourselves?

One issue may be that the problem itself hasn’t been well identified. We should apply the skills we have in analyzing knowledge and skill gaps in others to ourselves. Take business acumen, for example, as one of the skill gaps we may have. There are many aspects of business that we may not understand well, but which would have the greatest impact on our organizations or clients if L&D were to improve our understanding? Or what aspect would make the most impact on our personal career, and drive our professional growth? Prioritizing our skill gaps is a crucial next step.

Once we’ve identified and prioritized our skill gaps, what do we do? We are all busy and we all have limited time and budget to spend on professional development – but if we don’t grow, our alternatives are not so great. So how can we fit learning & development for ourselves into our plans? Also, the approach to meeting the needs of experienced workers–including ourselves–can be a challenge. As an individual becomes more skilled in his or her primary job, formal learning methods become less useful and informal methods work better to bridge skill gaps.

Illustration of the value of formal and informal learning methods with experience (Courtesy Clark Quinn)

Illustration of the value of formal and informal learning methods with experience (Courtesy Clark Quinn)

A few things we could do to move forward include:

  • Protect some time in the day/week/month/year to spend learning something new
  • Get support from management to spend time/budget learning new skills – how can we get this support?
  • Talk to colleagues – ask who knows someone in that line of work
  • Look to our existing social connections – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, professional organizations, etc. Reach out to our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
  • Join a new professional community related to a skill gap
  • Find a mentor in that line of work – how would we find one for ourselves? What characteristics make a good mentor?
  • What ideas do you have?

Join us Thurs., Aug 8th at 8:00 am PDT / 11:00 am EDT / 4:00 pm BST to share your ideas and practical approaches to bridging our skills gaps.

* register and complete your self assessment with the LPI Capability Map here: http://lpi.lexonis.com/