#cipdmap16 – Preparing for the Future of Learning

This session’s with Laura Overton from Towards Maturity.  Laura’s talking about some of the latest insights about learning and how we can use these in work to improve the learning experience and impact.

Great that Laura’s going to have the session as a conversation to keep energy levels up, especially post-lunch.

CIPD are using the Towards Maturity research to inform the learning of their members.

Mix of HR and L&D in the room which Laura’s delighted by – their research has shown that 5000 L&D learnings leaders are saying that the silos of people professionals are coming down and putting the person at the centre of all people activities.

The modern workplace – like Peter said this morning – agile, change, pace, technology.  We have a profound opportunity to impact individual and organisational performance.  This story hasn’t really changed for 10 to 13 years.  We’re really good as people professionals at chatting but not necessarily turning this into action.  Today’s about practical ideas.

Now some interaction on tables – What does a modern learning strategy look like?


Ideas from tables 24-7, anytime learning, just-in-time learning to support agility, inclusion for all – overcome tech-capability gap, responsive, awareness of different needs – no one size fits all, learning fits to business needs, short-term learning for now vs shifting to more thinking about long-term planning for the future (career, succession, talent), strategically and culturally aligned – influencing and leading these through learning, tools available to learn are varied to suit different people – creative, not sheep dip, developing confident learners (those turned off by education who have a fear of learning), collaborative learning, line manager driven – instead of asking for a list of courses, people pros help leaders develop to understand their learning needs & solutions created from that, curation and variety of learning materials / sources to be accessed.

Theme – whatever stage the person is at, whoever they are, whatever their preferences – we provide the tools & resources to enable people to learn.

In education – primary through to FE colleges – we can’t do chalk & talk there to engage learners.  We develop young people to become individual learners & have them ready for work.  What are they then experiencing when they get to work?  How much is chalk & talk?

Headlines from Laura. These are areas orgs are focussing on – Learning Culture – Business Responsiveness – Productivity and Engagement – Individual Processes – Efficiency.

We’ve got the technology tools but we’re not achieving our goals with learning for these 5 areas.  Just putting a leaderboard in your e-learning isn’t going to engage younger learners.

What holds us back from achieving what we need in business through learning?

Learning not transferring into work

Ownership of learning not sitting with line managers – this requires new skills as L&D pros because no longer can we keep rolling out the courses in response to requests.  We need to be commercial partners who can coach leaders to what they need.

Learning chosen as the wrong solution – conspiracy of convenience – managers expect a list of courses, and if we keep providing it to keep us in a job / safe / comfortable then nothing will change.

Analytical rigour – L&D/HR aren’t capable of helping leaders establish root cause which is very often not skills & processes but is often behavioural & needs a different solution.  Another new skill needed for L&D/HR.

So much choice – we need to help people get to what they need in a smarter way.

Time – a reason / problem / barrier to learning – I don’t have time for that.  Mindset shift to see that learning is integral to being successful in your role. This culture needs to be led from the top.  And we need to help people to stop, reflect and learn and notice that this is learning. Doesn’t need to be a ‘course’ to be learning.  We need to show the difference effective learning can make. Build credibility.

How are people already doing this stuff?

Top 10% (the Top Deck) of the Towards Maturity index compared to the bottom quartile – 3 x as likely to be improving efficiency & processes, 3 x as likely to be improving engagement, 8 x as likely to be seeing an improvement / change in culture.

They have a clear vision of the future – what’s the big horizon for the business and what’s my role in supporting those objectives? The business is aligned in one future together, not HR/L&D on their own. The top deck are aiming to reduce attrition, to improve productivity, to implement change faster.

  1. Stay focused on specific results – the difference you want to make – not measuring how many courses we’ve done. It’s the difference for the business that needs to be measured.
  2. Be consumer driven – we need to understand our customers. The Top Deck are finding out “what do you need to do your job?” Not asking what’s your learning style or what courses do you need this year? Once we understand them we can make smarter decisions.  Most helpful for learning – conversations, learning with manager / in team, collaborative learning.  Towards Maturity have found it really hard to see a generational difference in how we learn – the millennials are just more vocal and have higher expectations.  What motivates you to learn? – consistently top of the list – to do my job better and faster.  When looking at what you’re doing with learning in your org, ask “what in this learning is helping our learners to do their job better or faster?”
  3. Work within the wider context – of relationships within the business. Proactively engaging in relationships with others like IT, Finance, Marketing for data analytics. Have relationship and empower their line managers to be skilled to have learning conversations with their teams.
  4. Empower Learners – transparent about learning & careers, talking about learning up front in offer letter. Employee at the centre of the experience and they’re preparing their L&D teams for change – most L&D are saying we need skills linked to: consultancy, design, blended learning, technology, marketing, project management, business acumen, confidence.
  5. Manage change – Community, Content, Tech, Clear Communication, Right place right time learning. Helping learners to learn how to learn.
  6. Review and adapt – use evidence – anecdotal and well as quantitative – for data-based decisions about what to keep doing and what to stop.

We need to let go ofsilo thinking – we need to get collective to provide an employee experience within HR nevermind out of HR!, the possibility of a silver bullet solution for everything – there isn’t one, past success – what had you be successful in the past isn’t what you need to be successful now, don’t be tied to the past that stops you moving forward, the burden of proof – only 30% talk about ROI, they talk about evidence and impact but don’t feel they need to prove themselves. And if you need data, Towards Maturity have lots!, old style benchmarks – headcount, budget, course completions – these don’t show the difference you make they show how much you cost as a department. No wonder HR/L&D are the first areas when cost cutting happens.

And to finish…… conversations for delegates to talk about what they’re actually going to DO with this.  We need to stop talking and start doing or nothing will change for the next 13 years.


This has been live blogged in good faith from CIPD Midlands Area Partnership 2016.  I’ve done my best to represent the session accurately but I’m human so there might be some bits missing or not in as full detail as shared in the room.

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