Monthly Archives: April 2016

A Blog About Blogging

When it comes to blogging, there are…

Small blogs, long blogs, big fat juicy blogs. Fast blogs, slow blogs, the ones that open your mind blogs. Short blogs, long blogs, some as big as your head. Intriguing blogs, incredible blogs, and some you read in bed.

There are reflective blogs written with care, and informational blogs written with flare, full of references and links to spur you to read more. Keep asking, keep questioning.

There are sharing blogs. There are daring blogs.

Blogs that download thinking and then upload it to share with the world.

Blogs that drip with passion and fire, fuelling you into action.

Blogs that reach up inside you and gently tug at something that makes your eyes water.

Warm blogs that require a cuppa, and a re-read to understand and sink it..and ponder. And then pacy blogs that spark your thinking and trigger a blogged response.

There are even blogs written at 4am in the morning due to pain-induced-insomnia, fuelled by frustration that end up receiving a colossal amount of views.

And sometimes there are blogs that are written live during an event or learning session in order to capture the essence of being there for those who can’t be. Blogs that you write whilst listening, interpreting, understanding and reflecting all at the same time – those blogs.

On May 11th and 12th I’ll be joining a fabulous blog-squad team at the #CIPDLDShow.  to live-blog and tweet my way through some seminars, and hopefully provide some periscoping into the exhibitions too! Tickets and more info here.

After stocking up my Contigo (best thermo-mug around) with a good cuppa tea I’ll be starting Wednesday in the company of Beverly Aylott Head of Learning at AbbVie Ltd, and Shauna O’Handley Head of Talent Value Proposition & Performance, Misys Financial Software (@f3peep) sharing their experience of sustaining performance through changing times by focusing on core leadership values [A2]. I’m looking forward to hearing their stories about creating authentic, accountable and emotionally intelligent leadership, as this and a strengths-based approach is right up my street. Plus I’m finding myself doing a lot of work around enculturation, personal vision and values at the moment. Powerful stuff that needs considered execution to be impactful and land well. So yes, I’ve picked a session that resonates just from the blurb, and I’m intrigued to hear Beverly and Shauna’s stories how they overcame the challenges, especially in organisations and sectors vastly different to mine.

Next another case study session with Tim Hallatt, Learning & Development Business Partner at ATS Euromaster, and James Mitchell, Snr Director Global Talent Development at Backspace on how to they demonstrated the value of L&D in supporting overall business strategy, engaged senior leaders, and made learning an invaluable process to the business [B2]. Again I’m interested to learn from their stories and how they achieved this, and also to compare notes as this reflects a similar seminar that my colleagues will be speaking at on Day 2: [G2] Identifying and Gaining the Learning Investment Needed in your Business .

Come afternoon I’ll be eager to hear Jane Hart (@C4LPT) talk about Social and Collaborative Learning [C1] as I’d love to create and embed more of this at Addaction. Followed by a bit of open-space learning (which I absolutely love) on [D3] Equipping your L&D Team with the Essentials for the Future. With Laura Overton, Founder and CEO of Towards MaturityDerek Bruce, Head of International Development for ABN AMRO and the CIPD’s own Andy Lancaster, Head of L&D Content.

In the evening you’ll find me gathering with other L+Ders for the CIPD sponsored tweet-up at the Hand and Flower pub close to Olympia. Book your ticket here! Come and say hello!

For Thursday I’m excited to start the day with Dr Itiel Dror; an actual neuroscientist talking about neuroscience – what a treat! Dr Dror will share his masterclass on ‘Using Cognitive Neuroscience to Maximise Learning’ [E1] based on his work as Cognitive Neuroscientist at University College London. The blurb suggests this masterclass will help you make learning memorable to inform behaviour change – my kinda biz.

Then it’s more coaching and culture stuff for me (I know, I’m as surprised as you are!) with case studies from Danone UK, via Paula Ashfield their Head of Learning, and Cancer Research UK, via Gaelle Tuffigo their Learning and OD Specialist, and Anthony Newman their Director of Brand, Comms and Marketing. I’m already wondering if Cancer Research face similar challenges to other charity organisations like Addaction, when it comes to culture and coaching, and keen to hear what they’ve learnt along the way. The session is called Developing Culture by Extending Coaching Capability [F2].

After refuelling me and the Contigo at lunch, I’ll be catching [G1] Professor Cliff Oswick of Cass Business School, City University London deliver a masterclass on Using New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L&D Opportunities – I just love the title of this one…hope the session is as meaty as this blurb:

  • implications of transitioning from traditional ‘diagnostic OD’ to contemporary ‘dialogic OD’
  • how new forms of change can accelerate and deepen the experiential learning process
  • practical illustrations of how emergent change can enhance organisational L&D capabilities

Yes please – I’ll have a bit of that! But don’t forget you can hear my colleagues from Addaction at [G2] if this doesn’t take your fancy.

Then, because I’m not keen on People Metrics at all, I’m going to end the day with Google employees Steph Fastre, People Development Specialist and Aimee O’Malley, L+D Business Partner hosting a masterclass on [H1] Data and User Insights to Inform Learning Strategies. Why? Because in my experience of going towards discomfort or the less favourable option, there’s always been good learning. Plus, Steph has done some great stuff at Google including G-2-G which I’d like to hear more about.

Then…you’ll probably find me snoozing on the train back to Derbyshire – brain-aching, fingers tired, Contigo in tow.

Top 10 Things Psychology has taught me about L+D

Psychological theory is learning theory. To understand people, behaviour, thinking and how the brain works a little more is to understand how people learn, how we are likely to act, to make choices, to automatically think.

There’s a lot of ‘neuroscience of learning’ around, complete with the neuro-bollox label. Neuroscience isn’t bollocks. Neuroscience is actually fascinating (especially if you’re a bit geeky about bio-psych like me) and continues to help us go beyond serotonin, dopamine, cortisol and oxytocin to understand the minute complexities of all the neurochemicals in play. It has remarkable potential, for example we still don’t fully understand mental health or have sound medications to support imbalances. There is also a caution, because for real world application neuroscience needs social, biological and psychological context to make sense in a useful and helpful way.

And then… the stuff I am reading and hearing that is titled neuroscience for learning is familiar because it’s Psychology 101. Not rocket science, not neuroscience, just psychology – the most interesting and curious subject of all. So here are my top 10 things that psychology has taught me about my L+D practice.

  1. Emotion is always present and is required for deep, long-term learning. We are in a constant state of regulation and balance within our nervous system; some of us do this more easily than others. Learning that shifts us to change and do something different taps into our beliefs and values, that guide our learned processes. As these are usually long held-foundations, accessing them with new information that doesn’t quite fit is threatening; it’s emotional. If you’re not feeling something, you’re not learning. It also means change isn’t an overnight event.
  2. To learn is to change and do something different. For change to happen, first there has to be full unbiased acceptance, validation, appreciation and understanding (yes all of those, genuinely) of the current status quo. Then we can look at new, different, moving it, altering it. On average a permanent change will occur after 7 attempts at the making the change.
  3. Well designed gamification models maximise the principles of addiction. There is no addictive personality, and therefore we can all experience these tendencies. A milder model of behavioural addiction would mirror a standard learning theory.
  4. Maslow matters. The opportunity to self-actualise is essential for learning that engages the whole person. Setting challenging tasks that utilise skills, knowledge and attitude combined are important.
  5. The environment matters. The Harlow monkeys didn’t choose the wire-monkey-mummy that had the food (seemingly the priority for survival). They chose the wire-monkey-mummy that was covered in cotton wool; the one that gave the best hugs. As per no.4 the basics are important too: a safe environment without judgement where error is accepted, building self-esteem through achievable steps, belonging via involvement in own learning. Furthermore (as I’m not linking you up and Harlow is not direct evidence) spatial awareness is a environmental contributor. Spending time expanding our peripheral awareness using visualisation can positively impact learning by providing space for more open and broader thinking – useful when we learn in a boxed square space/office hoping for creativity.
  6. Learning happens all the time, whether there is a L+D professional there or not. Look for it, seek it, notice it, and help it along a little.
  7. Learning something new and/or doing something different is a needs response to fulfil a function. If there is no need, there is unlikely to be any learning. Even if the end function or reason for learning isn’t obvious. If there is no clear need – don’t proceed with trying to get people learning. You’ll need to fully understand the need as starting point for facilitating any learning.
  8. We are much more likely to accept and fully assimilate (learn from) new information when it’s offered from our peers, and/or a setting of mutuality with the other person/people. An authoritative expert approach (e.g. I tell you this information is true and factual, and I’m credible, therefore you will now go away and use it) is likely to impact immediate and superficial change. However, new information presented as an offering for discussion and consideration before choosing to uptake or disregard is much more likely to be accepted.
  9. Reflective practice is learning in action. Do it. For everything and anything. Find a tool/model of reflective practice that suits you and push yourself to go on a reflective journey after a challenging day/conversation/experience.
  10. Learning cannot be done to. That isn’t learning, it’s something else. “Just do this and that will happen” is not enough. We are not purely behavioural, and we don’t go directly from A to B. We go swiftly and often automatically (learnt behaviour) from A to C and there is always a B in-between A and C, whether situated in our consciousness or subconsciousness. Learning with lasting application works on B; the belief, the automatic thought (see no.1).