Valued L&D future conversations

Tim Scott has written the ultimate blog on the L&D Connect Unconference that took place on Thu 11 Feb 2016. Tim's blog here, so this short reflection in no way competes with that or comes anywhere close. 

Some of us were also filmed saying how we found it, so we may turn up on online promoting this great format for future Unconferences. I loved the day and having felt trepidation about a day whose content in advance was a blank page, the 'unstructured structure' worked really well. I was just comfortable enough with it to absorb loads and contribute a little. Uncomfortable comfort? 

At the end, in the fishbowl exercise, we discussed the future role for L&D and there was a suggestion the conversation may be circular. I.e. similar themes at the first Unconference 3 years ago. So, I pondered, what do we do about this and does it matter? 

Like Tim, I am also an HR generalist who loves L&D and sees the inter relatedness of all things to do with people at work ... along a continuum. I was struck by the diversity of backgrounds of the other people there. A few who do HR too like Tim and I, plenty more L&D specialists, some from big organizations, some independents, some with plenty of experience and some with shed loads of experience. Also, some serious digital L&D specialists and the individual thinking and ideas each one of us has developed from reading, sharing and up to date research on how we learn etc. Finally, some were seasoned Unconferencers and others were doing this for the first time.  

An important concept was that the right people were in the room.  

If the L&D community was having similar conversations 3 years ago, so what? I really dislike 'group think' but I don't think we were guilty of that. Maybe the issues are similar, and in the context of the amount of change needed to shift responsibility for learning to individuals and for all organizations to embrace the business benefits of learning, 3 years is not that long? 

The other thing is, maybe in the same way that the research we value has been repeated many times with same/similar outcomes, the fact that conversations were similar means they reflect the current truth of our organizational situations and of our learning journey, representatively? Before I get into hot water for saying this, I don't mean that any conversations we had lacked validity! Far from it. We created our agenda and we chose whether to lead conversations, join in, or listen and also when we joined or left conversations. In fact of all the events I have ever joined, this was the most adult to adult. And there was respect for everyone's contribution no matter how much or little, no matter how seasoned or how new, in abundance. 

So my conclusion is I don't believe we were limited by group think. I think we are grappling with a huge agenda about learning and motivation at work. Conversations will evolve - we need to embrace them all. 


  1. There's a number of points I agree with in this post. In a similar way, I don't see it as a problem that similar conversations were happening 3 years ago. Some people may be more advanced in their thinking and have reached certain conclusions a long time ago. That's great for them and keeps them ahead of the game I suppose. However, that doesn't always translate to action. I know people who think well about things, but rarely make a difference to their life or that of others - organisationally or not.

    Not only do we repeat research over and again, stories get re-told, insights get repeated, learning becomes re-shared and they come from all manners of medium - religion, politics, society, etc. Is the human race that much poorer for these similar messages being repeated?

    I pay no truck to those who argue that they're hearing things again. In my opinion, that's a good thing. It means that more people are understanding some common discussion points, and they're seeking ways to make things better. We should be supportive of these insights and learnings, not bemoaning that it's already been said.

  2. Thanks Sukh. I appreciate your reflections. You have understood my sentiments exactly.

  3. Thanks Sukh. I appreciate your reflections. You have understood my sentiments exactly.


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