L&D QuestionTime – Ettie McCormack

In this week’s QuestionTime we hear the views and opinions of one of the Learning & Performance consultant’s Ettie McCormack.

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

The old chestnut of “Doing more with Less” perpetuates the myth that we continue trying to do the same things and expect different results. It’s time for L&D to help the business by providing the frameworks, resources and environment that help people find a platform for connected learning, then help them to measure the impact of that learning in the workplace. The challenge is to provide a structure that supports the multiple ways in which people take and use their learning. Being able to provide abundant learning resources from non-traditional sources that is both relevant to, and validated by the business. This means it will be valued and everyone is engaged in organisational development.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

I work with businesses who are facing some serious skills shortages but often don’t take a step back to look at the issue holistically and connect the various dots by looking at the talent they want to attract, recruit,  progress and retain within their companies. Very often activities like career pathing, succession planning and talent management take place in a vacuum. L&D is contacted for ‘training solutions’ after these decisions are made and then are disappointed that the solution doesn’t match the expectation.  As a result, parts of the business will begin to find their own solutions and puts L&D at risk of becoming irrelevant.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

The openly networked learning environment is one of the most exciting and challenging developments that we can leverage. Online platforms and digital tools can make learning resources abundant, accessible and visible across all learning settings. Smart organisations will devote as much time to developing a digital learning strategy as to other digital aspects of their organisations. Very often we’re readier to use digital in our private lives than in our professional lives – when it’s a choice rather than an imposition it is better accepted. However, a digital solution works best when it’s invisible (i.e. the tools cannot enable a behavioural or cultural change); it’s the quality of the content, through the engagement of the business in sourcing the content and the ability to provide interest-powered (when a subject is personally interesting and relevant, learners achieve much higher-order learning outcomes) and peer-supported (the ability to contribute, share and give feedback in experiences that are fluid and highly engaging).

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

The biggest shift that needs to take place is in the mindset that L&D is the sole provider of learning. The term ‘curator’ is becoming frequently used as the activities related to researching and sourcing some excellent content that is readily available from some highly respected institutions – very often for free (e.g. Coursera, Degreed, etc.). L&D can add real value by firstly, working with the relevant subject matter experts in the business to help select and validate the relevancy and second, incorporating these solutions into the overall blend of the structured and unstructured offerings.

The other ‘game changer’ that would really benefit the perception of the L&D function is the ability to have a business focused conversation about the outcomes and impact of learning on organisational Performance. When we are able to do this confidently we shift the focus from fighting to defend ourselves from budget cuts to providing guidance on where investments will provide the greatest returns aligned to business goals.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

Harnessing all aspects of social media in highly fragmented environments will be key to fostering engagement and curiosity. Finding interactive, immersive and personalised technologies that provide responsive feedback and support a diversity of learning styles will help to meet individual needs. Through online search, educational resources and communities of expertise, learners will be able to easily access information and find relationships that support self-directed and interest driven learning.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

“There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier”. (Charles Kettering, Inventor, engineer, businessman).

About Ettie MCormack

Ettie has a focused consultative approach, analysing root causes of performance challenges, implementing solutions for improvement and translating to the bottom line by evaluating results against key performance indicators. Operational experience across several industries and sectors, holding a variety of operational and staff management positions. Able to provide objective support and collaborative leadership to teams, peers and key stakeholders. Effective in high pressure environments where dealing with complexity and the need for urgency are key components in the continuous race for results.

Connect with Ettie on LinkedIn

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