3 Takeaways Inspired By The 2018 Learning Awards

Recently I had my glad rags on for a night at The Dorchester. No matter how many times I attend the Learning Awards, I am always captivated by this beautiful venue. And it might sound cheesy, but it really does set the stage for a magical evening, honouring the best of the best in learning and performance. With Learning Technologies happening the same week, I wanted (needed?!) to let some of my reflection percolate before putting pen to paper, but here are my main takeaways inspired by these awards.

1.      The time to transform is now

By this I don’t mean digital transformation (although there is an awards category for that) I mean the lens through which we look at learning. As LPI’s CEO, Edmund Monk said in his opening address, this is a ‘revolutionary period of change in the way the L&D profession operates’. Now in the aftermath of Learning Technologies, I have seen a lot of posts about our interpretation of learning and the fact it pretty much is happening all the time whether L&D are directly involved or not (check out this piece from Jane Bozarth on self-directed learning as a longer form example) So as learning professionals, we need to evolve what we’re doing, where we’re doing it, how we’re doing it….and that level of change doesn’t always come easy!

I’m a big believer that these awards should inspire others and set new standards across the industry, so I was delighted to see how Nigel Paine as chair of the judges, and the team at LPI have created new categories including one for digital transformation programme of the year – as well as creating a space to recognise new start-ups, innovation and rising stars. Examples like these help the rest of us learn and rise to the challenge of adapting successfully and keeping L&D relevant going forwards.

2.      No impact, no point?

Last year I wrote about the importance of learning and development making a positive impact on organisations, because otherwise, what’s the point? But this year’s opening address referenced that this year’s winners are creating ‘genuine behaviour change’. The dream, right?! And I just wonder how different some learning projects would be if we all had to consider award-style criteria from the outset. Measuring the impact of learning on behaviour is not an exact science, but by at least considering what the desired impact should be and how you can demonstrate that to stakeholders, I can’t help but think it would sharpen things up a bit before projects are even kicked off. So, sales training…should possibly support an upturn in sales revenue for example. Perhaps the criteria should be made available to everyone in the industry and we can all ask some soul-searching questions before investing time and effort in initiatives that don’t pay the desired dividends…

3.      Context is key

I was particularly delighted to see the onboarding programme of the year category. Which sounds very specific but at Fosway, we always talk about context. And what might work brilliantly in say a compliance learning context, is not at all what would have an impact in an onboarding scenario. I always think onboarding is an exciting area too. New recruits not yet jaded, enthusiastic and ready to get stuck into their new roles and immerse themselves in the organisational culture. There’s so much scope for making onboarding (and pre-boarding) a really engaging experience that I think it’s great to shine a light on the solutions that have been shortlisted (and congrats to the winners Greater Anglia). The apprenticeship category mirrors this context and I would love to see more categories driven by the business need – which would help consider the impact and goals of each project too – such as customer service and sales, or best academy, or even systems training.

I’d urge you to have a look at the Book of the Night and read about the winners. Congratulations to all involved.

About the author – Kate Graham:

After more than a decade working in L&D and HR, Kate is committed to sharing new technologies and best practice across the market. In her role with analyst Fosway Group, she works with organisations using HR and learning technologies to feed into the research agenda and extend Fosway’s Corporate Research Network. Kate also work’s closely with vendors, helping share their latest innovations and how their solutions are helping organisations in practice.

In addition Kate is social chair of the world’s leading L&D event, Learning Technologies and supports the coverage and output of several other industry events including UNLEASH, formerly HR Tech World. She is also a category chair on the judging panel of the Learning Technologies Awards and podcast co-host with Training Journal.

Connect with Kate on LinkedIn

Follow Kate on Twitter @kategraham23


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