So that’s the CIPD Learning & Development Show done for another year! Forty combined hours of conference sessions, 30 hours of free learning sessions, 50 speakers, 150 exhibitors, a few thousand learning professionals, and goodness only knows how many gallons of coffee consumed!
As one of the highlights of the corporate learning year, the CIPD Show is about showing off the very latest in thinking, ideas, technology and learning materials, which means for two days we were at the cutting edge of learning and development.
As I reflect on the L&D show, I believe it’s all too easy to fall into a mind-set that we need new things to help us do brilliant work in L&D. After all, the show is packed with the latest digital learning equipment and software, materials to help generate conversations for coaching and performance, storytelling, learning management systems, consultancies for leadership, etc. Of course, we all need a bit of help and no doubt much of this is good stuff to support our strategy, aid learning sessions, and inspire us with different approaches.
The show’s theme was ‘drive performance through learning’, which it so central to our purpose. Yet how often is performance discussed in our teams and with senior leaders? How prominent is performance in our designs and impact measures? I wonder if we sometimes get too side-tracked by the glitz and glamour of the systems and materials available to us, and somehow the strategic focus gets a bit lost. I have no doubt that this happens in organisations, and the shiny things in place don’t have the impact they could have, because they’re not part of a clear learning strategy for the organisation.
In reality it’s about how we use things. With a few exceptions, I think good L&D is not about the shiny but about our approach, our thinking, our strategy. It might be that tech can support some ideas, but we need clarity of purpose first. For example, the session on curating learning for performance support exemplifies this. Surely curation is one of the oldest practices around and this is an example of where tech can support the idea. Curation, either at work or for personal use, is very well supported by the myriad of tech tools and apps, but we need to know where we’re heading with it, what its purpose is in supporting people to be better at what they do. The same thing could be said about virtual reality. It has the potential to have a transformational impact but only if it’s used effectively in the context improving performance.
The conference sessions were broadly about the how and the why. With sessions based around the themes of strategy, leadership, learning, and the future of technology, I think the speakers, to greater or lessor extents, provided the input and stimulus to help us consider the how and why of workplace learning. We were asked to consider the needs of younger people in our organisations, the best environment in which to learn, our L&D branding, learning tech, neuroscience, skills, strategy, etc. Loads! Whether you agreed or disagreed, liked or disliked, felt inspired or let down with what you heard, it all fuels the debates, discussions and thinking that help to ensure we’re heading in the right strategic direction.
To help us reflect on the show’s content and discussions, below are the links to the BlogSquad’s tweets, blogs and vlogs from 19 of the conference sessions – organised in conference themes. Happy reading and watching!