Learning Live 2022 – some first thoughts

Music festival crowd

Sometimes, top of mind reactions are helpful. Very often, more considered reflections are valuable. This post summarises my thoughts as I travelled home from the event yesterday. A more reflective piece I plan to share in my regular newsletter next week – subscription link here.

On a personal level, Learning Live 2022 reminded me of the value of tribal gatherings. After a weird year in 2021 (COVID still existed then, before its apparent disappearance this year?) and absence the prior year, there was a genuine sense of shared pleasure in the return to a much appreciated annual calendar event. Steven Bartlett referenced the value of tribal connections and the damaging fragmentation of them in our screen saturated world. Spending extended time in the room was a real boost, as was the quality of conversation. Thank you to the LPI for putting it on and in such a manner. So to those first thoughts…

The digital world is built on data and connection. The future of L&D, as a function, perhaps rests on relationships and data. Both seem crucial to the future relevance of the industry. Both are fundamental and need consideration to sustain relevance.

Relationship themes
  • Lifetime audience relationships are crucial to sustaining value – more than the delivery touchpoints alone (the NHS example from Lisa Johnson and the five year Doctor programmes illustrated this well) 
  • Vendor relationships are the lifeblood of a contemporary learning service, we need to see a way beyond licensing systems and to solving valuable problems with workplace products and tools 
  • Stakeholder relationships – the L&D as order taker trap is alive and well but, I believe, much better understood and seen with greater clarity 
  • Data owner relationships are a foundation – dig well and keep them secure
  • Relationships with HR and Talent are vital, particularly to tackle the skills agenda in a meaningful way (Amanda Nolen was sharp and practical on this point) 
  • New, broader relationships will always be needed – it’s a life’s work and we need to be as curious in our relationships as in our research
Data themes
  • L&D needs to care about data as much as it cares about content and events – really care not just say it’s important, and we have a distance yet to travel
  • ROI is important but not the only objective of data analysis activity – there is great value beyond calculating financial return (follow Kevin Yates for a rich seam of ideas on this theme)
  • Learning data alone is not enough to satisfy the interests of those beyond the industry boundaries. The LPI Accelerator data is uncomfortable yet instructive – we are twice as likely to measure facilitator competence as organisational performance change. (Thanks to Cathy Hoy for prompting a look at this data set). 
  • Dashboards are pretty and…?
  • As above, a vital set of relationships with owners of business data need to be struck and managed (commercial, operations, people, financial, market, user, product…)
  • The industry needs data standards to progress as a whole and tackle the shared opportunities and problems – we can learn from digital marketing, retail, broadcasting etc. to rise the tide (more on this to come)
The top priority for L&D?

I applaud the LPI for managing the agenda around the needs of the membership each year and encouraging us all to contribute what we are most motivated by. This is the top 5 list for 2022.

Top priorities for 2022

As Ed Monk noted, mental health and wellbeing were not on the list in previous years. Flexibility is needed. I confess concern over learning culture as the top priority, however. Is it a red herring born of members’ love of the subject? I would rather see something about ensuring the strategic value of learning as a contributor to the future success of an organisation (or words to that effect). Focusing on learning culture assumes that value is securely understood. Or have I missed the point?


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