Yesterday I had a lot of fun being part of Table Talks for Microsoft Ignite.
Table Talks are 30 minute Teams Meetings that simulate the ’round the table’ talks we have at conferences. A group of us Mathew, Megan, Pradeep and Renganathan worked together to devise a high level outline of what we wanted to touch on the topic of Prepare Yourself for a Future of Learning and then it was over to the participants to also chime in and share their experiences too. Their details and Twitter handles can be seen from the tweet below.
#MSIgnite! That was so fantastic speaking about the future of learning and being part of the conversation with #Learning gurus @MatGilbertson @ActivateLearn @MeganStrant @rengaray & everyone who joined us today! Thanks to @_achu & Shane for supporting every way possible- Kudos! pic.twitter.com/a3czpEgXqA
— Pradeep Kandel #MSIgnite (@PradeepKandel) September 23, 2020
I highly recommend you follow all of them as what I have found in the Microsoft community, that people are welcoming, supportive, and everyone has an open approach to learning more about what they do. If you are a Microsoft Valued Professional (MVP) – or not, like me! – professional and personal learning is just something that you do without thinking. You have to as you need to keep up with what’s happening in your area of interest.
At one stage, I think we had about 90+ people in the session which was great to see and also lovely to see that some of my colleagues like Shaun, Jen and Jeff had joined the session (BIG thank you to Shaun too for your lovely feedback afterwards).
A Word about Learning and Development (the department)
Now I’ve been in the field of learning for many years – and I love everything about this topic. I’m MAD about it and written about it for YEARS on this blog.
However, one of the things I wanted to also do on this session is to be mindful of how I presented the topic that it didn’t come across as too “corporatey L&D” or that our own personal and professional development was in the hands of others. In fact, I didn’t see the relevance of mentioning a typical department like L&D in this discussion in case it was assumed that they were the ones responsible for our individual learning. YOU are responsible for your own learning.
The Learning and Development department MAY play a part especially around providing some support and access to people and resources – maybe providing some strategies on how to learn in a digital age however, in my experience, you’d need to have a proactive and really forward thinking Learning and Development department that is integrated and aligned with top management and leadership and part of the organisational culture where learning is first and foremost into the way the company works and operates.
Similarly, think about it this way.
You know how your work and department is in constant change? Yeah, well, so is every other department in your company. Everyone is going through some tough times asking questions about their future so the Learning and Development department is as well. If they haven’t changed in how they’re supporting your teams and business and still offering same programs rehashed in different ways or that they’re forcing you to access courses that are hard to get to, painful to complete and basically, add more work for you than helping you – then it’s best to take charge of your own professional development. After all, it’s your life – your job, your career.
Having said that though, there are some that are actually driving change and that’s because they have someone like a chief learning officer who can drive the strategy and agenda for integrating learning into every part of the business function. Alternatively, learning and innovation is wrapped up with their transformation programs.
Usually what we find however, is that the learning and development function is sitting hidden away within HR, Marketing and in some cases, even the Finance department and given the remit to deliver mandatory and compliance training modules; and beholden to a learning management system that doesn’t talk or align to any other workplace systems unable to capture data where business can make real decisions to identify potential performance and skill gaps.
While they figure out their future, you take charge of your own future.
What Learning Must Be About
Learning should and must be driven by the individual and supported by their manager who in turn, is also supported by a culture where learning is integrated into the work flow. Learning is not training. Learning is not a once-off event such as attending a workshop, doing a course or attending a conference. It’s the process. This is where I believe organisations, managers and teams need to hone in on getting better at helping people develop their own process and provide them with strategies, tips, tools and ideas for how they can hone their process. That is, they need to help their people to learn how to learn.
Some examples are:
- Working on cross-team/cross-industry/cross specialisation projects meaning that we don’t just work on our work team projects but we broaden these out to make sure these teams consist of people who are different from us – come from different industries, job roles, networks because these bring new ideas and thinking to solve complex problems we face at work and in society.
- Showing and sharing their work and learning openly and transparently in enterprise social networks to start conversations, see linkages, build new networks and identify opportunities for collaboration and co-operation
- Building networks across the business or organisation or industry – then building more networks outside of these (the weak ties) that bring in new and innovative ideas and insights
- Sense making – the ability to be able to reflect and evaluate what they are doing, how and why through media such as blogging or vlogging.
- Filtering and critiquing – the skill of being able to hoard less bookmarks and instead be able to find, filter and critique that information and then DO something with it (whether it’s creating a new project; write about what they found (to make sense of it)
- Curation skills – being able to collect and curate and add value to what they find on the internet in some way that it is accessible to them and can be shared to others.
- Community Building and Engagement – being able to be part of communities of practice where we learn from each other and with each other to build our skills and capabilities. I recently spoke about these at Swarm 2020 where I focussed on the idea of ‘Communities of Innovation’ – one step further where a community works and aligns with a complex problem in the community or world and works together to solve it.
These are just some of the areas where companies must be looking at helping their people and I have written about all these in some form or another in this blog over the years.
During the session, some people asked some questions that I thought I’d share some quick resources here if it helps them to get off on a start to the above areas. (I have to put a plug in here that our second book that we will be publishing soon at Adopt & Embrace will cover these areas. I have written the entire chapter on Future Work Skills delving into detail of each of the above (and more) and how you can use Microsoft 365 to support these for yourself and your teams. Watch out for it soon!
Before I Forget…a little rant about Learning Styles
One of the things that I come across a lot is the mention of Learning Styles when there is any discussion about learning. Many times, I do not mention this publicly when people say it (well, it’s rude and impolite) and on the whole, people are passionate about learning so I like to see this more than putting a dampener on their argument.
However, privately I do mention that there is no such thing as learning styles. It’s a myth. And, I don’t know why we continue to persist to wrongly believe in them!
No, we don’t have preferences for visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Similarly, there is no evidence for Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning nor the idea that we learn 10% of what we see or 70% of what we do; let’s also throw Myers Briggs Type Indicator into this too. Ok, add Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) too. In fact, it may be best for us to not ignore research in this area when we talk about learning.
If you want a book to read about How We Learn, check out this one by Benedict Carey on How We Learn.
Okay I’ll get off my high horse now and share some resources that you can use to get you started on how to Prepare Yourself for a Future of Learning.
Building Your Own Personal Learning Plan (links to my blog posts)
Sense-making & Personal Knowledge Mastery
Anything to do with building networks, building your Personal Knowledge Mastery and sensemaking check out the wonderful site of Harold Jarche who I’ve been following for many years. He has a PKM Workshop that I highly recommend.
For practical ideas and tips, then follow Tiago Forte (@fortelabs) on his blog and YouTube channel on How to Build a Second Brain for how to build out your own PKM method using different tools (he uses Roam and Notion but you can effectively use OneNote if you want to stay in the Microsoft ecosphere).
I can also recommend the work of Simon Terry (@simongterry) who writes on Learning, Leadership, Collaboration and Innovation. as well as transparent work and learning practices.
Communities of Practice
Any work by Etienne Wenger who has written many books on the topic on how to build them, manage them, engage in them, measure them. Here’s the Google list of books you can refer to.
Anything by Sylvia Tolisano
Building Your Personal Learning Network
Building Networks or Networked Organisations
Anything by Jon Husband who came up with the term ‘wirearchy’.
Anything by Tanmay Vora
Being Continual and Lifelong Learners
Anything by Jane Hart (you MUST FOLLOW HER WORK) on How to Become a Modern Learner and every year she runs a survey on the Top Tools for Learning – check out 2020’s results.
Anything by John Hagel.
Also, I recently did a book review on a new book, The New Long Life, that may be of interest as to why it’s integral for us as humans to be continually learning
So that’s it for now. There are TONS of resources I have accrued over the years from people in my Personal Learning Network – people I know, like and trust and learn from. Time to get cracking and build your own PLN.
If you need more information, of course, you know where I am.