L&D QuestionTime – Nick Fernando

Nick Fernando, Head of Content at Filtered.com, has worked in learning and development for 15 years across public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Nick is an instructional design and learning technology specialist whose work has included course development, LMS design, evaluation, performance improvement, large scale platform rollouts, strategy development and execution.

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

Okay I’m going to cheat big time with this and bring up two things (of quite a few!) that are actually one really big one.

Leadership and talent are proving to be a perennial challenge and there are, as noted in a report by DDI, serious concerns from leadership teams in many organisations about leadership readiness. Leadership is a key area of interest and ambition for millennials but they need to be further developed into leadership roles and there is concern that the pipeline isn’t where it needs to be.  There is similar concern about management as well, especially given that managers have a significant effect on staff performance.

Skills gaps also continue to be a massive concern and the really interesting thing is concern about this within our own profession. There is a sense that we are out of touch with skills to capitalise on process, technology and data that could help us not just to better address skill shortages in our organisations but also better align ourselves with organisation strategy. Addressing these skills gaps would also enable us to better demonstrate the business impact L&D has and the contribution it makes. In a report by Deloitte, leadership teams from across the globe highlighted L&D as a top priority for 2015.

So the big anxiety, the one it all comes back to is capability. Many organisations are struggling with this. Compounding that is the fact that economies are recovering quickly and businesses are really looking toward the future in a much changed, post recession, landscape. In this new environment agility, data and rapid insights rule.

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

The universal consciousness of course. Additionally a lot of research, reading of research, talking to businesses, my network and finally the League of Super Evil aka the Internet Time Alliance: Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn and Red Menace. Okay not the last one. Between them they have the work, social and informal learning spectrum covered.

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

Not to blow the Filtered trumpet but personalisation and recommendations will have a major impact on learning and performance. Many learning providers, both platform and content, are planning or implementing this. Skillsoft, Lynda (LynkedInda?!) and many other providers of varying sizes have jumped on board with personalisation. So why is this something important? It all comes back to capability. Personalised learning provides agility, reducing the time it takes for an employee to develop a capability. This means that ‘time to value’ (thanks LPI) is much improved. This approach is less disruptive in terms of time and total cost, while also improving engagement with learning and subsequent application on the job.

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

Without a doubt I would say the proliferation of cognitive computing will be a huge game changer for many industries including our own. We’re still getting our heads around all the learner data that many of us are now collecting and cognitive computing will give us the ability to draw real insight and conduct deeper, robust evaluations of our learning initiatives. The simplest way to think of cognitive computing is to think of a much more intelligent Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana that can analyse huge sets of data and provide feedback in a human friendly way. Another game changer would be ensuring that key and soft skills are reviewed and their development in the workplace taken more seriously. If McDonald’s are willing to put billions of pounds into it then surely it’s something that every organisation should be looking at. Going back to my first answer, what we classify as key skills will need to be expanded to better fit with the modern business environment.

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

Much more effective due to all this fancy technology floating around! I believe that we will be highly integrated, data driven yet human led. Hopefully we’ll have reduced the impact of the predicted 2020 skills shortages.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Dr Emmett Brown says we shouldn’t mess with the past.

Hear Nick speak at LearningLive – How Can Predictive Analytics Enable On-the-job Performance? Click here for further information on Nick’s session and to book your tickets

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