Revolutionary. Responsible for coining the ‘courses to resources’ shift, the affective context model of learning, and introducing the 5Di approach to user-centered learning design. A track record of shaping future learning approaches for numerous public and private organisations. Winner of several awards for people development strategy, innovation, and learning content, including the Learning & Performance Institute’s Award for Services to the Learning Industry, 2017. Author of ‘How People Learn’ (Kogan Page, May 2019).
So, what do you do dear? Describe your work to an elderly relative.
I help organisations improve the performance and experience of their people – by building useful stuff and creating experiences that change them.
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?
Probably my time in San Francisco – wandering around the streets, enjoying the sunshine, browsing hobbit-like bookstores, meeting interesting people. Bohemian coffee shops at 1am. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I learned, but it changed me deeply.
Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)
I wish they would stop doing education and start doing learning. These two things are really as different as astrology and astrophysics. So now when I hear the word ‘learning’ I try to figure out if it’s really going to be an education conversation instead – 99.9% of the time it is. As soon as someone says ‘content’ or ‘topics’ or ‘curricula’ I know we’re doomed. It’s like when someone tells me their star sign. Outwardly I smile but inwardly I am humming a little tune.
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)?
Not much. People matter and being with people is important. It seems nobody fully appreciated this or understood why. Commuting every day is a bit of a drag, so I am grateful for less of that. I do less ironing. I think COVID has disrupted the hierarchical nature of organisations to some degree, but overall data suggests that diversity & inclusion has suffered a setback which I think is a shame.
From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return?
‘Being with’ as Heidegger would say. The way it feels to be around people. I am an introvert, so that might seem surprising, but our life is the trace of the things that moved us, and monotony creates great unconscious gaps in our existence. Being with people can be memorable. Zoom calls rarely are.
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)?
A predictable answer: marketing is interesting because a) it sets out to influence behaviours in a measurable way, b) it doesn’t have outdated rituals holding it back in the way that learning does. Marketing also tacitly accepts the importance of understanding your customer in changing their behaviour.
You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?
Bill Nighy. I just think he has a great attitude and outlook on life. He seems like someone who knows not to take anything too seriously, and that’s probably the most important thing. Without that, you turn to stone.
If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?
Blimey. Like ones I made in the last 5 minutes or big ones? Or both? I think one of my biggest mistakes has been muddling up developing my own understanding of things, and developing other people’s. Once you disentangle those, you have a lot more freedom of movement I think.
There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?
A few years ago I might have said my iPad, but then for some inscrutable reason we all decided that we preferred our iPhones. I love taking pictures – the later versions of the iPhone actually have pretty good cameras. Otherwise it would be my fountain pen.
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?
My practice? What is that? I am hoping to develop my life.
Where can we find you?