What We ‘C’ for L&D in 2019: Context, Continuum & Catalyst

December 13, 2018

If you had to distill any conference down to its core elements you’d be hard pressed to come up with better words than community and collaboration. Whether a speaker or a participant, we attend and/or contribute to conferences because they aregatherings of like-minded professionals working together to share ideas that solve problems. In other words they are learning experiences, invaluable events that showcase the impact of social learning on what and how we do our work in learning and development (L&D). Throughout 2018 Pokeshot has had the opportunity to attend numerous L&D conferences in the U.S.: Learning Solutions, Association of Talent and Development, Online Learning and DevLearn. As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, it is appropriate to reflect on what we saw and heard at these events and share what we think is relevant moving forward.


“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” (Eric Hoffer)


As someone whose introduction to HR came via L&D and whose introduction to operational impact came via learning technology, I have always been intrigued by two things: 1) the quest for HR – and more specifically L&D – to earn the so-called “seat at the table” and 2) how so often when technology is applied to learning it ends up making things more complicated.

As Mr. Hoffer’s quote suggests, learning – in all its forms – is almost as essential as the products or services your organization offers. In fact, in “The Lean Start-Up,” Eric Reiss details five principles that are part of his methodology. One of them is “Build, Measure, Learn:”


“The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.” (Eric Reiss)


Whether you’re working in a start-up, a Fortune 500 or somewhere in between, this is just one example of why learning is of strategic value in an environment that is constantly changing. To see it just as a cost-center function is too simplistic of a viewpoint; so pull out that chair and take a seat at the table.

To help keep that seat at the table, L&D is in a unique position in the organization. We have access to and are visible to anyone in the organization, we are often champions for the company’s mission/vision/values (aka culture) and we have trusted relationships that span front-line staff, management, leadership and sometimes even customers.


As you look ahead to the new year and the renewed opportunity it provides to do more with less and to enable your colleagues’ success, here are three guideposts to consider:


Context not content

The volume and ease of access to content has created a situation where context is more important than the content itself. Yet, we continue to spend large percentages of our L&D budgets on content, whether that’s creating it or licensing it. These investments need to be redirected to providing context. This can be accomplished by curation, by leveraging user-generated content and by implementing solutions that enable collaboration.


Connect the continuum

Implementing learning solutions that have to account for the complexities of human nature, the global economy and our organization’s evolving business models is no small task. However, if you’re supporting the digital transformation of your organization, select a solution that your learning strategy can grow into. Acknowledge that success breeds success and start by first realizing the benefits of online learning, then social learning, then performance support and then finally knowledge management.


Catalyst for change

Learning is the universal use case. Regardless of the industry, the size of the business, the products/services provided, etc., we all have to keep learning in order to keep up. There are teams in your organization ready and willing to do something different when it comes to improving their performance. Create solutions for them and let those internal successes sell themselves.


Here’s to 2019 and helping ourselves and our colleagues inherit the futures we seek! For more information on our presentations at these events please see the links below and/or contact Stan at sj@pokeshot.com.


About the author

Stan’s first experience with instructional technology occurred in 1999 when he used SMART Boards to help employees learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite. He then became an instructional designer and systems trainer for a variety of proprietary CRM software solutions. From there, Stan worked as a Training Manager and later as a Project Manager for an early leader in online education. As his experience with online learning grew, and as his understanding of the need to connect strategy with technology evolved, Stan began to focus on the relationship between blended learning and social business. It was these insights that attracted him to Jive and Pokeshot’s SmarterPath LMS the first time he saw it in 2012. Stan’s current role with the company not only allows him to support the sales, marketing, and product development teams, but it also allows him to work directly with customers as they implement SmarterPath. Prior to joining Pokeshot in October 2016, Stan spent several years working as a freelance consultant, successfully completing learning technology projects for such clients as Right Management, National University System and the U.S. Forest Service.


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