Development Future of Learning

How to Elevate Your L+D Game in 2017

Written by Paul Rosevear

3 Key Takeaways from our Director of Learning’s 2016 DevLearn Talk

The house was packed, and the message was clear: if we want to elevate the role learning plays in our organizations, we need to elevate the way we view ourselves as learning professionals. That was the theme of our Director of Learning Alex Khurgin’s talk at DevLearn’s annual conference in Las Vegas last month.

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Real learning, Khurgin reminded the standing-room-only crowd, isn’t mere information transfer. It’s transformation—literally changing people into newer, better versions of themselves. With that in mind, he encouraged attendees to approach their work with a new mindset: less like training administrators, and more like changemakers who use process, innovation, insight, and imagination to profoundly transform their people and organizations. It’s an inspiring message that rang true that day, and continues to ring true every day for all of us here at Grovo.

If you weren’t there to catch it, here are a few of the key takeaways:

Your job is more than a job. It’s a craft.

When we practice L&D, we’re participating in a rich and storied tradition of helping others develop as professionals. However, when we don’t think of our work as a craft, we become vulnerable to other people’s stereotypes of what L&D does. We can’t let that happen—our collective credibility is at stake.

To that end, we need hold ourselves to a higher standard at every turn. That means staying current with the latest evidence-based theory; it means sharing new techniques and discoveries with colleagues in the field; it means being conversant in the latest learning technologies; it means challenging and reinventing best practices; it means all these things and more. We owe it not just to ourselves, but to the entire L&D community.

If we want to elevate the role learning plays in our organizations, we need to elevate the way we view ourselves as learning professionals.Click To Tweet
Stop taking orders. You’re the professional.

Would you hire an architect, only to insist that he use your blueprints? Would you visit a doctor, only to demand that she confirm your diagnosis? Of course not—they’re the experts. But that backwards transaction is precisely what happens every day in organizations all over the world when managers and other folks throughout the company come to the L&D department demanding training programs be created to their exact specifications. It’s got to stop.

Let’s be clear: you are the learning professional. So let’s stop taking orders, and start enforcing a more consultative role. Before we even begin to design a learning program, we need to have a thorough understanding of the problem we’re trying to solve. How do we articulate it? How do we translate it into a learning challenge? What’s the best vehicle for achieving the desired result? We’re qualified, experienced, and educated learning professionals with a valuable point of view and a unique skillset to offer. Let’s make sure we act that way.

Don’t just train, transform.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, effective learning is transformation. But if it’s real transformation we’re after, we need to respect the dictates of real learning—a complex process involving a mix of paying attention, engaging emotionally, reflecting, subjecting your knowledge to feedback, practicing, and remembering. As L&D professionals, we can render transformative learning experiences by drawing on the power of things like story, design, creativity, and multimedia in our programs. But to do that well takes craft.

In our experiments at Grovo over the last six years, we’ve discovered some really useful ways to bring these elements into your training programs in a practical and reliable manner. You can find some of them in our recent research study on management training, and we’ll be publishing more how-to content along these lines in the coming months.

Change starts with you.

A brand new year is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to begin adopting these new mindsets if you haven’t already. As our world evolves at breakneck speed, our opportunity as L&D professionals to help our organizations evolve alongside it only grows. But that can only happen with the right state of mind. Here’s to new ways of learning—and thinking about learning—in 2017.

Who is someone you feel is currently elevating the craft of L&D? Let us know in the comments below.

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