Leicester City, Brexit and Pokemon Go: 2016 mid-year review

This week’s post is from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner, an Online Instructional Designer with GoodPractice in Edinburgh. 

2016’s been a crazy old year. First Leicester won the Premier League, then the UK voted itself out of Europe. Now, children and adults alike are walking in front of cars and crashing into lampposts as they use their phones to hunt virtual Pokemon.

If you’d put money on any of the above, you’d be very rich indeed.

But are we any wiser this July than we were back in January? Or has the unpredictability of the past six months shattered our confidence?

On this week’s #chat2lrn, we’ll be asking how this year has been for you? How have your expectations compared to reality? How have your ideas changed? What has gone well? What failures have you learned from?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

We operate in complex systems

How did Leicester City overcome 5000-1 odds to top the Premier League? Sure, training played a part. But so too did management decisions, the culture at the club, the mistakes made by opponents, and no small amount of luck.

When you are designing learning interventions, how much do you consider the system within which you operate? Is training the answer, or are there other factors at play? Can the success of one team be replicated to another, or are other factors like environment, team dynamic or luck skewing the results?

In complex systems, where we have a big impact on some areas but less of an impact on others, do you need to nudge rather than lead?

Emotion trumps facts

Throughout the UK Brexit debate – and the US Presidential race – facts have been cast aside in favour of sweeping generalisations. Why do these generalisations stick? Because they chime with the real-world experiences of voters. Because voters have an emotional connection to the candidates and to the ideas.

When we’re developing a new learning initiative, is it enough that we think it will improve the performance of our colleagues or clients? Do our learners believe that? Does it make sense to them, in their context, without knowing what we know? How much do you consider our learners’ hopes, fears, or even their workplace happiness?

Fun matters

Pokemon Go had as many users in its first week as Uber had in 7 years. It makes over $1million in revenue every day. As we look at the seriousness of the world around us, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of people gather in one space to catch a pikachu.

But how does this help us as learning and development professionals?

Well, it tells us that fun matters. Yes, we do a serious job. And yes, performance at work is important. But that doesn’t mean that developing a team, and striving towards a common goal, can’t be fun. What can we do to promote fun? Can fun improve productivity?

We’ll be discussing this, and your own ideas, at our #chat2lrn mid-year review. Thursday, August 28, at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST. See you there!

It is time for learning to get back to messy

Messy learning

This week’s post is from chat2lrn crew member, Fiona Quigley, who works with Logicearth Learning Services based in Ireland. 

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of a mess – or more to the point, I love working through a mess to make sense of it, structure it and tidy it up in my mind. To me that is what ‘real learning’ is. To have to make sense of something that you are unsure of, to have to put in a bit of effort and to have a bit of angst about it all until the penny finally drops – that is the best of learning for me.

So does this type of thing happen in or get facilitated by corporate L&D departments? Not in my experience. This is not a blame game though – I think it is more to do with the business environment that we are currently operating in. Often L&D get blamed for not ‘providing’ the best learning experiences – but in my opinion, many times they are just responding to what the business is demanding. Business needs people to learn fast and many of us mistakenly think that organising it centrally will be quicker. Quicker isn’t always better.

Getting lost in translation

And the other problem is this – we lose the nuance and complexity; we distort, reduce and obfuscate real learning. We dumb things down and complex learning topics like leadership, communication skills and working well with others often get lost in translation. How many organisations these days continually speak of difficulties in ‘training’ leaders or helping people to communicate and work together better. Maybe it has something to do with trying to make the messy much tidier than it needs to be?

So join us in this week’s messy chat2lrn and share your thoughts on this topic.
Thursday, July 14 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!