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.