I Am Mad As Hell & I Am Not Going To Take This Anymore – Con Sotidis.

Well it has been a long time since I blogged and it is not due to a lack of want but more about finding the time. In fact there have been so many reasons to blog lately – Don Taylor visit to Australia, the Dr. Will Thalheimer/ Jane Hart “spat”, the MOOC debate, Oz Learn chats – the list goes on – but I had to think why do I want to write, what is the message I want to send this time of the year?

My motto has always been L&D with a twist and this is what I aim to deliver. I always try to tell it as it is. In fact one of my pet hates is “fence sitters”. I think also most of us have had enough of the usual  back slapping blogs we see on a regular basis.

In fact, lately I laid claim and have been using a few hash tags that I am hoping will try to “wake up” the profession.

#Headinthesand is my favourite as it never disappoints and delivers a powerful message – for this I have Jonathan Kettleborough  to thank.

As most of you would know it is report publishing time in the L&D world at the moment – we have the magnificent #bethebest15 from Towards Maturity, the UK Learning Managers report from GoodPractice and the 2015 ATD State of the  Survey Report just to name a few recent ones. We have also recently had the LPI L&D survey report and the CIPD L&D report.  I highly recommend each and everyone one of these and I will be doing a seperate blog on the Towards Maturity #bethebest15 report soon.

But what I am reading in these reports and seeing being tweeted is sad. Not sad in that the report is telling it as it is (don’t blame the report writer or analysts) but sad in that L&D is not listening – they are just continuing to do what they always do – but funny thing is the tweets and posts make it out like they are listening – and then next year’s report comes around and we are still talking about the same things – What the ?? We are on a Merry Go Round and no one is getting off.

As most of you know I attend a lot of webinars (some very late at night) and read lots of reports / articles and I have a huge and valuable PLN – I learn from each and everyone one of them. But it is a “cocoon” I live in and most probably you too – because we are all preaching to the converted. It is only when I go outside this cocoon and see and talk to others not in my cocoon I realise how bad it really is out there.  I try to reach out to help them but they don’t want help – you see they believe that they already know it. But curiously they are happy to pay some “button pusher” $0000s to produce another boring piece of elearning. It is a classic case of what you don’t know you don’t know and unless you make an effort to know you will never know – so no harm done – right? Wrong…

As an avid back channeler, I set up an Eventifier back channel for most conferences I wish to follow, local and overseas, and I also run a behind the scenes social experiment – I love to see how many people contribute to the twitter feed of the conference hash tag.  Well I have been doing this for a number of years and although I don’t keep the raw data, I can tell you that the HR / L&D professionals are NOT embracing the new world – yes it is only twitter but it is enough proof. Well you may say  “so what?”  – other professions are not embracing it either. Yes that is true but we (HR/L&D) are the very people that are shaping the new world of work. We are the people that the other professions are / will be relying to / looking to for our vision and new ways of learning, applying and performing – and yet our professions has it’s head fully in the sand.

What is this fear? I have yet to fully understand. I think Tim and Gemma tried to unpack this in their great book recently but I can still sense this fear is out there. Lack of knowledge can be dangerous and a little knowledge can be even more dangerous – but shutting yourself out won’t make it go away.

These are the very same people who then get sucked in by the hype about something like a MOOC or SPOOC – because their knowledge is not expansive – so when vendor X comes along and shows them a shinny new MOOC they jump on it – not really understanding what it is they really need.

Soma many times I get asked what technology / what tool do I need – wrong approach folks? But again don’t blame them. You see Harry met Sally at a bar last week. She works for BIG BANK A – BIG BANK A has got Yammer  – so  Harry works at BIG BANK B. He went to work the next day and said I will have what she is having, so guess what  – he nows has  Yammer as well. In reality it wasn’t Yammer that Harry needed , but since Sally has it then he should as well. On the other hand YAMMER is exactly what Sally needed.

In all the recent reports one small but very much overlooked skill continues to haunt the profession – many know it, many talk about it but very few practice it or for that matter wish to practice it because they are SCARED – yes there I said it  – scared !

Scared they may loose their jobs if they say NO – and I don’t blame them – it is very scary to say no to the CEO who wants another leadership program delivered by a top tier management consultancy for $500,000.

The skill of Performance Consulting is a very much highly needed skill in L&D. Even the LPI Capability map rates it as one of the skills most required but also stresses that it is the least possessed skill by L&D Professionals. Funny this, because when you talk to recruiters about some learning roles and ask the them “but hold on has the organisation done a thorough performance analysis to determine why they need these power point products or another boring eLearning product, the response is “Yes ! Yes they have and they know what they want” – Really???

When I dive deeper they stop me there and thank me for the interview. Next day “Oh sorry Con but we have found a better match for the role with someone who had the skills”. Let’s not attribute any blame against the individual who got the job, but the system which the recruiters continue to feed and keep alive. Their love of  eLearning is not healthy and they have little idea of what a true learning professional does or can deliver.

Sometimes I feel like Peter Finch, I have often thought of approaching my window and yelling out: I AM MAD AS HELL AND I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE

So my parting wish to you is don’t stay silent (another hash tag I am using is #neversilent). If there is something you see or read and you feel needs to be challenged then do it but do it in a respectful manner – the Thalheimer / Hart “spat” was a classic example of this – gracious and entertaining all in one.

Don’t “swallow” FADS  – as I have repeatedly said in my tweets “most of these have been with us since Moses was a boy”- only difference is someone / some vendor has decided to re-package them for a wider audience and some even promote them at a certain period during a year – just like a Black Friday sale.

Examine, analyse and review everything and see how you can use it (always keeping the outcome in mind not the tool).

Don’t just celebrate one week during a certain month of the year. You have already been doing these things for a number of years and you should be celebrating and embracing these every day of the year !

You are all intelligent and knowledgeable HR / L&D professionals and each and everyone one of you has something to offer – don’t just agree with your Twitter follower / LinkedIn connection – where you have something to say, challenge them, seek to understand more, send a tweet, write a response on LinkedIn.  Your voice needs to be heard !

L&D (and HR more broadly speaking) does have a great opportunity to make a difference – let’s stop talking about it and focus on just doing it.

Let’s see next year’s L&D reporting season show us some data that demonstrates we have listened, we have spoken up, we have challenged and we have consulted and more importantly, that we have ultimately made a measurable difference to the organisations we support.

Lift your head out of the sand.


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn  and Con’s Blog

About the author – Con Sotidis

Con Sotidis has over 20 years leadership experience and an extensive background in the development and implementation of strategic learning and development frameworks.  His strength’s lie in the ability to consult and collaborate with key stakeholders, leaders and decision makers to improve business outcomes via the design and implementation of efficient and effective learning interventions.

Con is actively involved as a keynote speaker and have most recently acted as the Chairperson and Facilitator at the Australian Government Online Learning Toolkit 2014. He has also successfully hosted Australia’s premier L & D Conference – LearnX 2014 The Main Event

Connect with Con on Twitter @LearnKotch

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