Finding Your Way In a Digital Blizzard
As many of my friends know, I’m a great fan of the series Vikings. Although much of the show is produced so that it has mass audience appeal, it does have some historical inaccuracies. Nevertheless it makes for wonderful viewing where I imagine the harsh life of these Norsemen. In the first series the main character, Ragnar Lothbrok, uses a compass to cross the North Sea and raid the monasteries of England. I was intrigued by his use of the compass and I researched on how Vikings navigated the seas using both “old world” (birds, weather, landmarks, senses) as well as their “new world” compass.
So this got me thinking.
In days of freezing cold, grey snowy blizzards, how could they have used a sundial as a compass? I mean, where was the sun?
It turns out that this has been a question eluding Viking historians too and it’s still up for debate if indeed they used a special sundial made of a particular crystal that allowed them to navigate on cloudy days called an Icelandic Spar which splits polarised light into two directions. Jury’s still out on that one.
So what has this got to do with Finding Your Way in a Digital Blizzard (much like the Vikings did?)
Well I think that Learning and Development may need their own version of that Icelandic Spar crystal to help them find their way through an onslaught of workplaces changes, practices and technologies that are impacting their role and function.
On Wednesday 13th April in Melbourne, I have kindly been invited by Kineo Pacific to be a panel member at one of their breakfast events. The event will cover some of the main insights from their recent paper. They interviewed learning and development professionals around the world and asked them about how technology is changing their role and expectations; leading factors driving change in the workplace; the challenges faced by L&D and what they can do to “Find True North In A Digital Blizzard”.
I am looking forward to being part of the panel to learn more about the results of this global survey but also to learn about the challenges that Melbourne based learning professionals have to support and engage their workforce in this new and changing environment.
Why do Learning and Development professionals need to find ‘true north’?
I’ve been thinking about this. My thinking is based on conversations I’ve had with my peers in the field for a few years now and personal observations when I consult to organisations.
As a performance consultant, my approach with Learning and Development is to always start from the business problem you are trying to solve and then work backwards (yes, backwards. You read this right). Be like Ragnar in Vikings, observe, seek to understand, ask questions, watch your people. Most of all, get involved with their daily work and project life so that you can see how and why they work and learn the way they do. Look out for the gaps. Listen to their complaints. Watch what frustrates them. See what motivates and excites them.
Look at how your people and leaders use the current systems, processes, tools, environment, culture and norms to understand if these are actually supporting or whether they hindering you from achieving the business outcome. If they are hindering you, then investigate why this may be so and delve further.
Only when you have an accurate picture of how your current situation is not supporting where you want to be – and why – and then explain it in clear terms that the business understands, will you be able to make an accurate assessment of what you need to do to build capability in your workforce to look to the future.
Sometimes, I believe learning and development professionals are the ‘Magnetic North’ instead of the ‘True North’ of organisations. True north is not the same as magnetic north. Magnetic north fluctuates and changes with magnetic anomalies dependent on your location. As such we can be easily influenced by the newest gadget, technology, platform, or system that promises the world yet fails to deliver. The only result being that we lose our way entirely having spent time, money and resources for little reward.
So first things first, find your own way in the digital blizzard first so that you understand and can relate to the journey that your people are on already.
If you’re interested in this breakfast event, check out Kineo’s Event page.
Note: This post is not a paid, endorsed or requested by Kineo. Instead, I have kindly accepted their free invitation to attend as a panel member for their breakfast.