But the issue surely is if people can hide behind pointless tasks, email or other activities then there is something fundamentally at fault with your workforce planning. Here is the bigger challenge going forward – people appearing/claiming to be busy as that is the ‘norm’ and what should be accepted. It has negative effects on many things, for example people being hesitant to contribute to ESN/LMS systems as it might be a sign they are not ‘busy enough’. This is another area where honesty is needed and where trust and transparency needs to be (re)built – with clarity for talent via HR key.
Following on from my reflective posts in recent weeks about my experience, things I have seen in the workplace and the challenges the world faces I have come up with a title for myself: The Learning Reducer.
The inspiration for this title is a combination of music producer/reducer Rick Rubin and what I have realised during this period of reflection. Further logic behind the ‘reducer’ moniker:
“Girls” is indicative of Rubin, who initially portrayed his role as “reducer,” not “producer.” 1980s music had a lot of needless flourishes and additives. Rubin’s mission was to boil off excess and serve the essence. Rick is often portrayed as a producer who does almost nothing to the music he touches. Which isn’t to say that he does nothing. The opposite, in fact, is true. Like a great chef, he chooses the best ingredients and lets them speak for themselves. The genius is in the selection and arrangement of those ingredients.
In the case of “Girls,” it’s one part drums, one part piano, and four parts asshole.
In part my adoption of Reducer is based on some things that have really stood out to me during my time working in learning over the years, including:
Subject Matter Experts (or worse people responsible for something who are not even an SME) throwing requirements ‘over the fence’ to L&D whilst refusing to engage or find time for proper needs analysis.
Mandatory ‘training’ stipulated by government and other groups with no consideration for personalisation, real outcomes or other needs.
Bloatware learning where learning is elongated by everything from a corporate logo (even just for 5 seconds) at the start of a video through to fixing ‘learning’ into an arbitrary schedule of an hour, a work day, etc. As a result organisations have been left with lots of legacy learning content that is difficult to manage, update and makes little us of the opportunities AI, AR and other tech gives us.
Inefficiency – we hear a lot about productivity gaps but do very little about the basics around skills, process, etc. There have been improvements in encouraging honesty and learning from mistakes but tackling fundamental bad practice, for example with Microsoft Office, remains an issue.
Self importance. Unfortunately we all fall into the trap of thinking our piece of the pie is most important. Realistically, the product/service of our organisation is most important and in big organisations we only contribute to (or sell) it. Therefore, the need for learning to drive self aware and reflective practitioners is all important – what we don’t need are bloated learning (or other support teams) expecting the impossible or putting self interest ahead of the shared vision/goals. There is also the snobbery issue here in self importance of learning professionals and a failure to support all learners – too often focusing on leadership and high level concepts.
The learning industry is in need of shedding a lot of dead weight (learning styles, Myers Briggs, etc). We are seeing new ideas emerging but often people are clinging to ideas (like 70/20/10 in totally the wrong kinds of ways). As an industry/profession it feels like learning pros constantly beat themselves up but are far too slow (still) in shedding the old sheep dip training for something that adds more value. Admittedly because too often things are thrown over the fence as ‘requirements’ (see above).
Reducer as critical friend
So – can I be the learning asshole? Well, perhaps I already am – I noticed myself verging into this territory recently when asked to give feedback on pre-launch content from new vendor Thrive and also with the UI of a recruiting platform I was given early access to.
There feels like a value in looking at L&D from the perspective of critical friend. Seperate from industry or SM expertise. If only to ask a question of L&D pros practice: why?
Reducer and curation
Curation is not new – even though some L&D commentators would have you think it is.
Blog followers will know I get a bit of a “bee in my bonnet” about curation as an L&D topic. However, it is a facilitator of ‘reduction’ – pick the best of what is out there and maintain current awareness without excessive build times and other traditional L&D activities.
Curation done well has to be part of a continuous improvement culture.
Reducer and culture
Through a learning reducer focus we can establish true learning organisations.
Agile learning through experience and reflection, combined with ongoing collaboration via digital means. Where face-to-face and virtual classroom are reserved for real value added sharing and relationship building.
Learning can be embedded in work, agile in deployment, is owned by everyone and contributes to learner/employee engagement. This works both in education settings and the workplace.
YouTube is of course a strange beast – a real mix of the silly and serious. This wide church has contributed to many organisations going down the Vimeo route for a more professional platform (and specialist platforms like Twitch for other communities). At the same time professional use of YouTube varies from channels with video-first content (like the PWCUS channel shows) and those that just host videos for embedding/promotion on websites (including other social media) that make little sense in isolation.
Until a couple of years back I used YouTube to keep on top of companies in my industry, learning providers and a number of other channels. I’ve since got into the habit of using YouTube for my music playlists and some other pastimes (gaming and wrestling mostly). With not enough time to keep on top of channel updates (there was a time when I watched every new CrashCourse and RSA video!); I’ve really handed myself over to the algorithms and, because wrestling and gaming videos tend get a lot more hits that corporate and instructional design communications, I have these promoted to me. Therefore, the tidy was aiming to get me back in a position where I can keep on top of my subscribed feeds again.
Anyways, the 2018 tidy has seen me take the below approach, shared so others might take some inspiration but also so I can capture a list of channels I am no longer subscribing to (in case I want to come back to them in the future):
Like a lot of people, I ended up with 2 YouTube accounts a while back – my old YT one and my Google account. I avoided merging these so I could keep my semi-anonymous YT account although, to be honest, in the idea of “bring your full self to work” I suppose it doesn’t really matter any more. For now I’ve decided my Google account can be gaming focused and my old YT account for everything else – including a number of channels I realised I subscribed to as part of job hunts in the past.
Cancellations include the below, somehow I had got up to almost 300 subscriptions so I’ve been tough in cutting things! Therefore, this is far from the full list as I’ve got the overall number now down to c.50:
Some interesting ones in there too like the CogBooks account being closed for violating YT’s term and conditions.
Surviving the cut
Videos surviving the cut including education feeds such as Educause as well as tech (Microsoft, SAP, etc.) and other professional interests.
There were also reminders for a few sites and news sources I’d forgotten about in recent years such as HR Grapevine and World at Work.
Pass to the left, sail to the right…
As mentioned above, I use YouTube playlists a lot so thought I’d give a shout out to a few songs/artists I’ve come across thanks to YouTube. Anyone aware of my music tastes will know this will be a mixed bunch and often NSFW!
Ariana Grande – no tears left to cry. Must admit I don’t think I had heard of Ariana Grande before the horrible events in Manchester but this song is great on a number of levels. Some good remixes are available that increase the tempo and make it more explicitly upbeat (as the lyrics read) but ignore the original’s intriguing hint of melancholy.
Whilst any entry requirements will be a matter for individual employers, typically an apprentice will have an area of technical, vocational or behavioural expertise in which the organisation needs others to acquire through training.
This is an interesting statement as it suggests this apprenticeship is an SME to learning practitioner conversion programme (or at least the standard has been written with this in mind).
As someone who has previously trained SMEs in instructional design, eLearning techniques and other competency areas it is interesting that a full apprenticeship may be in place for this. This leads to a few thoughts for the apprenticeship:
SME conversion as an apprenticeship is overkill, especially if the 20% time rule is enforced as most people coming in from a technical expertise area will have inherent opportunity cost of their time for the organisation that goes above 80% of their existing salary.
It may be more suitable if the expertise being sought, and converted into a learning orientated mindset, is something like graphic design, multimedia production, etc.
As a route for people new to business the suggestion, therefore, is that L&D is a career you wouldn’t choose as a starting point. I recently had the L&D labour market explained to me as particularly challenging for job seekers as “L&D is the nice bit of HR that everyone in HR actually wants to do” so the ignoring in the above statement of L&D as a HR specialism is an interesting one (should L&D be part of HR is of course a long running debate). Yet the approach of the employers on this trailblazer, and perhaps the influence of aligning to CIPD membership, is that L&D remains not a career but something you can find an interest in as your career develops. This perhaps is not a bad thing?
As the entry point to work
A challenge, and source for much criticism of the government’s apprentice reforms, has been the shift from apprenticeships being just for new/young workers to upskilling and ongoing career development for all, for example with the suggestion that too many starts are in the management area.
What you would hope many apprenticeships would actually be used for, in the current climate, are more suitable ways into professions, for young people, than a university route. Indeed, if companies could really adopt them, rather than the huge cost of university options, the apprenticeship reforms will have been a success. Professional bodies, by shifting certification from degrees (see the US equivalent here for L&D) to apprenticeships (through the ‘trailblazer’ standards), have become more realistic about the future prospects of their future members. Breaking barriers to entry for any professions is of course worthwhile – as has been pointed out for elected officials this week!
So it seems we are in an interesting stage – will the L&D apprentices be adopted? If so, will they be for new workers or converting other skill sets. There seem to be arguments for both but I have to remain hopefully they will actually be used for people to come into the profession without the university costs (that many of use have had to accept in the past).