10L: Michael Strawbridge

About Michael:

Michael has worked in Learning and Development for over 20 years although he originally trained as an actor, working in London’s West End. During this time acting he became interested in the world of learning and performance in the business community and as a result made the decision to change direction by joining the team at Personnel Today and Training Magazine. In 2007 Michael become the publisher of leading online magazine TrainingZone, a position he held for over 6 years.

Michael joined the LPI in 2013 and is now Global Head of Community where he works to inspire the learning community by expertly curating relevant and compelling content that helps L&D professionals in their workplace. He hosts the bi weekly Learning Live Digital schedule of online events as well as producing the Learning Live Networks global programme of activities which helps learning leaders and providers collaborate and develop strategies from global organisations.

A regular chair at leading industry events including the LPI’s flagship event Learning Live held each year in London. Michael has also spoken at various global events both virtually and in person on such topics as Digital Transformation of Learning and The Modern Learning Professional. Michael continues to be a leading figure in the global world of work place learning and is passionate about helping develop the L&D profession. Michael is a member of the LPI senior management team and a Fellow of both the LPI and the Institute of Learning & Performance (Asia Pacific).

So, what do you do dear?  Describe your work to an elderly relative. 

In these times of global changes, both technological and cultural, I work to support individuals and organisations to help them learn more effectively in the workplace and improve performance .

What was your favourite learning experience (Could be work, personal, school…anything is valid)? What were you trying to do? Why did it work so well for you?

This was when I was training at drama school back in 1990. There was a fellow actor who I didn’t get on with that well.  We were in a production of Antigone and I was playing blind prophetTiresias who is over a 100 years old. The director decided I should wear circular blacked out glasses so I was actually not able to see.  During my main scene, Tiresias is led on by a boy (played by the afore mentioned colleague), the boy places Tiresias in position for his speech which lasts for about 8-9 minutes.  When the speech is over the boy returns and leads Tiresias away and off stage.  All pretty simple I hear you say.

All went well in rehearsals and for the 5 nights of the run.  On the 6th night we were performing to an invited audience of theatrical agents, producers and casting directors from the RSC and the National Theatre. We were all nervous as this performance could get us agents and start our careers. The “boy” lead me on and for some unknown reason I decided that when he placed me in position down stage centre that I wasn’t quite in the right place. So I decided I needed to move and once placed I shuffled (I was supposed to be over 100) and begin the monologue.  I thought my voice sounded a tad strange but I pressed on and completed the speech, the boy returned to collect me and walked me off stage as per usual. 

It wasn’t until we got back in the wings that I was told that when I was placed correctly facing the out into the auditorium, but I had decided something wasn’t quite right and I shuffled and positioned myself facing into the wings (ie off stage) and proceeded to deliver the entire speech into the wings and not to the audience. 

The learning experience – to trust your fellow colleagues and not think that you know best !!!!!  

Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)

I think for me the thing that I would ask people to be aware of is that we don’t need to always jump on the latest technology.  Don’t get me wrong, tech is amazing and can make a huge difference but we need to ask ourselves why we want to use tech for a specific task or project, what solution will they solve for the business and what benefits do they bring. 

Same again please…What has changed for the better in your professional world as a result of COVID working practices? Should it be retained for the future (whenever that might be and whatever it might look like)?

I would say the increased opportunity to question what and why we are undertaking certain activities and tasks and if there is a better or more effective way for us to carry them out.  Just because “we” may have always undertaken training face to face doesn’t mean it’s the best solution.

From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return?

I miss the face to face interaction with the L&D community be it at events such as Learning Live etc.  The opportunity to discuss and share experiences has always been integral to how I have learnt and I hope that with the cautious unlocking we will soon be able to start these sharing experiences again even if it does mean from behind the safety of a mask.

Theft is the sincerest form of flattery…Which part of which other industry or profession do you think we should learn from and adopt (or just steal)?

When I look at how certain areas of retail have had to update themselves over the past 18 months I think we can learn a lot from their adaptability and commitment to ensuring onboarding, learning opportunities in the flow of work and so on has been able to take place effectively and efficiently.

You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?

Oh now that’s an interesting question. Can I have two?  One would be Kenneth Williams would be a terrific work colleague.  Sharp wit, a fount of all knowledge and someone who never took himself too seriously.  The 2nd would be Alan Turing. He made such huge strides in his lifetime and what he achieved should never be underestimated on so many levels. Data is a huge part of learning and performance, I wonder how he would have used the insights that we have access to us now.  

If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?

Its not the end of the world, no one died. Learn from it and move on.

There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?

As a sufferer of hayfever then I would say it has to be my Dyson air filter and purifier (other purifiers are available, I believe)

The picture of success…Which image or picture is a good representation of how you would like to develop your practice over the next five years?

Where can we find you:

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