10L: Krystyna Gadd

About Krystyna

Hi I am Krystyna Gadd, founder of How to Accelerate Learning, Creator of the Learning Loop and Author of “How Not To Waste Your Money on Training”. I cannot believe I have been in the field of learning and development for over 30 years, especially considering I also had a career in engineering before that!  

Having moved from engineering to IT training, I spent years learning my craft firstly for IBM and later as a freelance IT trainer. This gave me great insights into how to make dry and technical training more dynamic and impactful.

My focus is always on achieving business results in a creative and inspiring way. Through my own model for accelerated learning (The Five Secrets), I help people make this structured and simple. Finding the right data to inform good decision-making is a must in my eyes.

Since 2008, I have been training trainers. Noticing a lack of experience and skill in the area of needs analysis drove me to write my book How to Not Waste Your Money on Training. Trying to find a replacement for the traditional “Train the Trainer” led me to develop the Learning Loop – a programme facilitated not trained and a must for the modern learning professional.

Get in touch to find out how I could help you revolutionise your L&D function.

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

I help those people in organisations, who help others to develop; to do this with more impact and creativity.. Essentially I work with trainers, facilitators, subject matter experts and line managers and help them to improve their practices in helping people to learn. I do this by using accelerated learning techniques and anything else that has been shown to work in practice! I work with clients and deliver this through  a programme called the Learning Loop, which is tailored for each group as well as being facilitated, not trained.

I hope this explains it well, as I once tried to explain to my mum what my degree in chemical engineering was about and she told a friend I was learning how to be a baker!

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?

In most recent times I have been learning to weave and was given a two day weaving workshop for my birthday last year. This was to help me to learn better what I had already tried on my own. 

My natural way to learn is by diving in and having a go, but in doing so, there are often gaps in my skills and knowledge. Going back to basics gave me some tips and tricks I didn’t know and a basic understanding of some of the fundamentals I had missed. So even though I prefer to learn by doing, the theory I learned on the course, really helped my somewhat patchy weaving knowledge. 

It reminds me very much of how people have been clinging to learning styles and the “I learn best by……” approach. This experience in weaving has reaffirmed that actually, learning some theory, applying it, having a go and then reflecting on it, is a much better approach than just diving in!

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

I belong to a number of forums and networks and when people ask for “An interesting activity for a course they are delivering on XYZ”, with:

  • no context or idea about who the people are or…
  • the goals they are trying to achieve or…
  • how they will measure success 

It seems like it is all about the buzz of the activity rather than the impact on the organisation and individuals performance.

Whenever we work with clients, we aim to really understand the value we can add and if we don’t feel we can, we are not afraid of saying so. We talk about how we can help, only when we understand the problem we are solving. 

Stephen Covey said ”Begin with the end in mind” not “Begin with an interesting energiser to get everyone engaged”. 

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)? 

Through the last 2 years, I believe people are more appreciative of human contact and at the same time are not wasting time travelling to pointless face to face meetings. I feel we need to keep a balance between face to face and online. We need to learn more about leveraging the unique thing that happens when we get together in a physical space with people, so that when we meet online it feels more natural.

The improvements we have seen in online platforms (Zoom is a great example), making it easier to connect and communicate with each other, has been amazing. When you think of the numbers of people who never met online, how quickly they acclimatised to it, it is nothing short of a miracle. We stayed connected when we were not allowed to meet but we missed each other, we missed hugs and casual get togethers. I will not forget that.

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

Foreign travel to nice places. I did not do a huge amount, but when I think of the places my work has taken me: France, China, America, Greece, Poland just to name a few in the last 10 years. I don’t miss the actual travelling time, but being in interesting and new places meeting different people from different backgrounds.

I have missed the buzz you get from working face to face with a new group of people and seeing their reactions close up, watching them interact with each other and get excited. I have been back in the classroom working with subject matter experts to help them deliver learning, but much less so than pre Covid.

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)?

Marketing definitely. They have learned how to gather data and use it to inform their decision making. It is one of the reasons that I wrote my book “How to Not Waste Your Money on Training.” I have seen a need in our profession to improve in the following areas:

  • Aligning with what the business needs
  • Defining the problems our customers have
  • Gathering data to inform our decisions about solutions
  • Demonstrating value to our stakeholders and customers

Marketing seems to have nailed this and we can learn from our marketing colleagues how we could do this in L&D.

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

I have already mentioned him …. Stephen Covey. He wisely said “Begin with the end in mind”. As an engineer it is part of my DNA to do this and I would have loved to have his wisdom on how to imbed this important message in our profession. I have observed that quite often in L&D, we do not define the problem clearly (hence the solutions do not always fit) and that is for a number of reasons:

  • Do not know where to start
  • Lack of ideas of how to gather data
  • Clarity of what sort of data is needed
  • What to do with the data (how to present it etc)

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

This is not a recent mistake but it is one which really sticks in my mind. If only I had asked more questions when someone asked me to deliver a presentation skills workshop in a hurry. If only I had known what they really needed was nothing to do with presenting. If only I had said “Let’s slow this down, I know it’s next week, but I need to know why we are doing this so I know if I have delivered something of value that will have a lasting impact”. 

Instead I was ‘helpful’, with only a few days to prepare, I delivered day one of a workshop (day one of two) on presentation skills to around 20 people. It felt like it had gone well. The feedback was good. Day two only 6 people turned up. The 6 that turned up were actually already good at presenting. What about the other 14? I never found out……if only I had asked more questions!

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

My iPad (with apple pencil of course). I use it to doodle and sometimes work on and if push came to shove I could use it instead of my laptop. It is such a fabulous piece of kit and it works seamlessly sharing my photos and documents between devices. I even created the graphics on my website on it.

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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