That was the L&D Show


Patrick Mullarkey (@mentormullarkey) _ Twitter

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!

First of all, here are some of the amazing images drawn by Simon Heath over the two days.


A2 Creating successful apprenticeship schemes to boost your talent pipeline

Tweets from the session

B1 The art of motivating – what makes inspiring managers

Video from Mike Shaw with slides from Nicky Moffat’s presentation, and his reflections (7 mins)

Patrick Mullarkey reflects on soldiers and leadership (3:26 mins)

Tweets from the session

C3 How to become an effective coach for business performance using 5 core questions

Jo Wainwright reflects on Jonathan Hill’s session

Tweets from the session

F1 The evolution of leadership – developing leaders that are fit for the future

Jo Wainwright reflects on Adam Kingl’s academic and engaging presentation

Tweets from the session

H3 How to design a transformational leadership development programme

Tweets from the session


B3 How to future proof your L&D team

Jo Wainwright finds out what it means to future proof your L&D team

Tweets from the session

C1 The strategic skills of the future L&D professional

Mark Hendy finds lots of food for thought in Robert Ashcroft’s session

A video from Patrick Mullarkey reflecting on lessons from this session (3:23 mins)

Tweets from the session

D2 Developing as a learning organisation that meets organisational demands

Patrick Mullarkey records his reflections on the Towards Maturity report (3 mins)

D4 Aligning L&D to business strategy to increase performance

Denise Sanderson outlines the 3 Ignite talks

Tweets from the session


A3 How to leverage learning from your mobile phone

Mike Shaw summarises Andy Lancaster’s 10 ways of using smartphones (7:14 mins)

Tweets from the session

B2 Using virtual reality and innovative learning techniques to increase L&D performance

Tweets from the session

D3 How to curate learning for performance support

Mike Shaw reflects on Martin Couzins’ session on curating resources to support improved performance (1:39 mins)

Tweets from the session

E1 Learning to inspire younger generations entering the workplace

Jo Wainwright reflects on Zoe Jackson’s presentation about millennials in the workplace

Mike Shaw reflects on why talking about Millennials is divisive (5:55 mins)

Tweets from the session

G3 How to gamify learning with limited resources

Tweets from the session

E2 Developing coaching and mentoring skills in managers to support people performance

Mark Hendy covers Mike Mair and Emma Smythe’s session

Tweets from the session


A1 Neuroscience for learning – improving performance through memorable content

Mark Hendy find’s Daniel Glaser’s session fascinating and insightful

Tweets from the session

E3 How to enhance your L&D brand to engage your learners

Patrick Mullarkey’s vlog on how L&D still has stuff to learning from marketing (3:22 mins)

Tweets from the session

F2 Design your workplace to encourage learning and collaboration

Patrick Mullarkey gets all Churchillian over buildings (3:15 mins)

Tweets from the session

H4 Developing your own performance as an effective L&D professional

Patrick Mullarkey talks about the excellent Ignites from Fiona McBride, Julian Stodd & Gary Cookson (3:05 mins)

Tweets from the session

Non-Session Specific

Denise Sanderson meets people on their way to the L&D Show

Patrick offers up his reflections of the two days (5 mins)


Author: Mike Shaw

I am a learning and organisational development practitioner based in Manchester, UK. I write around the themes of workplace learning & performance, and diversity & inclusion, as well as anything else that comes to mind! You can find me on Twitter @MikeShawLD & I often work-out-loud on Snapchat as mike_manc999. It’s our social connections that help us develop and I very much looking forward to connecting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s