Our days are a kaleidoscope

Image courtesy of Pixabay

One post has had more views on this blog than any other; I wrote 50 big ideas a while back and it still receives dozens of views every month. It creates conversation when I’m at conferences and events and continues to be relevant, even 18 months after it was written. It has recently attracted more views as it has been included in a Dutch language MOOC being run by my friend Ger Driesen and his colleague François Walgering from MOOC Factory.As part of the MOOC, Ger has asked the participants to find the ideas that resonate (as I did within the comments section of my blog post), and then asked them to translate the idea into action and do something with the idea in the duration of the MOOC.

Ever since I wrote the post, the selection of which big idea means most to different people has interested me. Some people go for ideas which have a personal strand. These are the ideas that are about challenging individual ability, and the force of someone’s will and attitude. For some people, the choice is about the processes and systems they have in place; these people see a system change as a catalyst for action and have an understanding of the capacity of their organisation and their personal capability. For others, they hone in on the ideas which relate to changing connections; no idea can be developed without considering the impact, benefits and changes in the relationships which we have with others.

The participants in the MOOC are no exception and have chosen a range of ideas that they wish to develop. As I mentioned above, this is the same activity that I invited people to do with the original post; more curious is the fact that people are also putting fuller explanations as to why some ideas are easier than others.

I looked at these explanations the other night and then yesterday saw Jane Hart’s post about the L&D world splitting in two. I believe that Jane is right in part, but think that L&D has become more than a simple binary choice between right and wrong, old or new, technology or traditional.

For example, I recently had a chat with a group of L&D professionals. They talked about their service and function and the pride that they had in both their work and their organisation. They talked about the channels they delivered and how, over time, the organisation was now asking for something new and refreshed. When they developed a more social approach based on current thinking and challenging the face to face culture, the organisation pushed back and expected a formal course. The reason they were still delivering a traditional offer wasn’t about skill – they knew what was required and had developed different skill sets and behaviours which reflected current thinking. It wasn’t an issue about will – they had a desire to develop a different offer and alternative channels. It wasn’t even about resources – they had put budget aside from their traditional face to face offer to be able to deliver at no additional cost. This had become an issue of authority; as a group of L&D professionals they didn’t have organisational or social authority to effect the change. Not having the organisational authority is an issue of hierarchy but the social authority is a cultural challenge.

From my discussions with different people, it feels a lot like the diagram below:


In the example above, they were in position 5 – they were close to the MWL practitioners that Jane suggests, i.e. the sweet spot, but were lacking the authority to be able to follow the change through. I think Jane’s traditional family sit in position 4; these are people who have the authority to design and deliver, and have the resource available to support that authority. What they lack are the skills to deliver outside of their historic approach, and the will to change from a busy-ness focused way of delivery to something more reflective of current accepted practice.

In the next few blog posts I’ll talk about some of these other positions and make a few suggestions about what I think the L&D professional might need to do, and say, to get to that point in the middle. In the meantime, let me know in the comments which position you think you’re in and why. I’d also be interested in what you think you need to do to move into the sweet spot.

11 thoughts on “Our days are a kaleidoscope

  1. I like this a lot and really look forward to the follow up blogs. Suspect that zones 1, 3 and 5 may feel quite familiar to many. Highly concerned that there might be lots of L&D practice out there that does not overlap with the skills circle on this magnificent Venn diagram.


  2. Fab post Mr Jacobs. Well crafted, eloquent & insightful. For me (as it often is) it’s about credibility. It starts from within and can be stifled or freed by others. There’s a lot of organisations out there that stifle the life and light out of L&D by saying things like:

    That won’t work
    Oooooo we don’t do that stuff here
    Yeah, we’re not ready for that yet
    Take small steps, having slides with pictures is a big enough step to last us a year

    Saying ‘be bold’ ‘be brave’ or ‘get with the future’ to the individual is easy and the hardest thing in the world all at once.

    Ace post


  3. Educators need to educate. We need to educate the budget and authority keepers, by involving them, by initiating new forms of education and involving them, show them by example, let them learn ‘on the job’ of creating new ways to learn themselves. Get the new, younger, fresher, openminded, innovative crowd around these people with budgets and authority involved. They can help! Let’s stop to ask what they want and show them what they need and how to get it.


  4. Something’s been niggling me about this (as I mentioned on twitter). It merits a conversation but let me try here…

    I’m not sure the area identified is in fact the sweet spot. For me the sweet spot is where you find the right combination for your context that allows you to achieve highest desired result for effectively the lowest desired input. The sweet spot is about optimisation of a sort – rationalisation perhaps. The sweet spot here in the diagram just says you need to have it all.

    That brings me on to something else. Behind the words Skill, Will, Authority & Resource is a sense of meaning that is perhaps limiting. So as you’ve indicated, for some “Authority” may indicate hierarchy or it may indicate social connection/regard. It may also indicate other meanings linked to expertise, tenure, voice, connection, influence, etc.

    Taking authority as an example, sometimes we can achieve through others authority which is probably more linked to our own skill, will & resource. That position number 5 might be the most effective, efficient and practical way of making an impact. That is to say we don’t need to pursue “authority” as a need that is missing – we can get it elsewhere.

    Similarly, someone who is resourceful and with the will in today’s connected worlds can find the skill and authority they need elsewhere. Their orchestration often makes the magic happen. I realise you could describe that as a certain skill & authority in and of itself but I hope you see what I mean. Contextually, any of these positions may be useful and valid and your sweet spot.

    So having written down my thoughts, I guess my niggle is probably similar to one I have with Jane’s post – the characterisation of what we “need to be” is contextual and multifaceted. Kaleidoscope seems very appropriate language and should also help guide us to find our own sweet spots rather than a common sweet spot.

    What do you think?


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