L&D QuestionTime – Danielle Kennedy

With the recent announcement of the finalists of the 2018 Learning Awards, we start a new series of the L&D QuestionTime where we hear from this years finalists.

Today we hear from Danielle Kennedy shortlisted in the Rising Star of The Year category.

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

With the rapid developments in Digital Technologies, Learning and Development roles are changing into something that is unrecognisable from only a few years ago. Learning and Development professionals are being catapulted into a world of technological demands, which they may not have the skills and qualifications to be able to perform at the level they would like.

L&D roles are now including instructional design, Content creation, development and maintenance, Learning Management System configuration and even coding challenges. Plus their existing roles which could include face to face training design and delivery, reporting on Return on Investment, leading within a business and managing a team! With the added pressure of limited resources and budget, L&D and technology are merging to create hybrid roles. The anxiety of fulfilling numerous roles and performing highly in each of these, is one of the biggest anxieties in Learning & Development at this time.

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

My role at Litmos Heroes gives me a really unique opportunity to really understand what is going on in over 500 businesses in varying sectors across the globe. The people I talk to on a daily basis are senior Learning and Development leaders and influencers, who share their challenges with me and even seek support from me.

Having access to such a wide range of people at differing stages of their journeys, with a spectrum of budgets, resources and culture challenges is fascinating and really allows me to absorb how multifaceted this industry really is. Whilst there are sometimes very different priorities and targets, the core of what everyone is trying to achieve is behavioural change through human interaction, which is why I love being part of such a vibrant industry.

Taking part in, attending and hosting webinars is a really new concept for me too. I have really enjoyed exploring this way of communicating ideas to peers and others in the industry. They are so accessible, both from a hosting and attending point of view – easy to interact and get some insight in a very immediate way.
I believe everyone who is part of this industry shares so many ideas and supports their network, more so than any other industry I have known. Supporting everyone to succeed and make a success of Learning and Development as an industry seems to be important to Learning and Development leaders, which sets a fantastic example to other industries, but also allows everyone to stay informed and not be afraid to approach ‘competitors’ for advice, guidance and new ideas!

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

Facial and fingerprint recognition technology being introduced into the learning world is a really exciting innovation which has huge benefits for ensuring policy and compliance! With the introduction of facial recognition technology, this would not only ensure the same person is taking all parts of their Training, but will allow them to exist in a virtual world, interact with others and develop their learning experiences in a whole new way!

This innovation will eradicate fraudulent Training activity, ensure full compliance especially when it comes to health and safety training and simulation of hands on training. I can see how this would be particularly exciting in a construction or driving setting, where simulation forms part of the learning journey, being able to recognise facial features rather than relying on independent trainers is such a dramatic shift in learning culture as well as technology, but shows such innovative thinking encompassing so many benefits.

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

I would like to see a huge culture shift in how Learning and Development is seen by Leadership in businesses and appoint a Learning & Development representative to every Board.

This would be a game changer and really increase the influence that Learning & Development has over strategic business decisions. Introducing a voice from the world of Learning & Development would increase the focus on people development and producing Learning opportunities that benefit the overall performance of the business. L&D would then form part of a business strategy that promotes and supports Learning and Training activities, rather than seeing them as an additional department which can reduce in resource when budgets are tight!

A lot of work needs to be done to achieve this, and it may be a case of having the right people, with a people focused approach, at Board level before any real commitments can be observed in global businesses. A Board that sets a strategy that understands L&D, in my opinion, would see performance (and compliance!) of their employees increase to accelerate their business and their top line.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

I think learning will exist mainly in a virtual setting as roles become less office based and more remote. The innovations we are seeing and the possibilities in virtual reality and gamification of learning, will create a new environment for learning to exist in.

The industry was first introduced to the concept of Gamification around 10 years ago, yet many businesses are only seeing it’s emergence now, so to assume Learning will take place exclusively virtually by 2030 would be misleading. I believe there will be virtual elements to every Learning opportunity, whether it be taking place on a virtual or social platform, in a virtual space, or using interactive digital resources to aid learning when physical face to face learning still needs to take place.

I believe with how Learning and Development will have to embrace digital learning technologies, a lot of other business sectors and departments will in fact follow our lead and embrace digital transformation and integrate it as an opportunity for further growth instead of seeing it as an obstacle to productivity.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Always keep people at the centre of what you do when it comes to Learning. I would explain to myself that Learning is completely subjective and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to anything when it comes to creating behavioural change.

I would encourage taking a step back and assess the learning culture within a business, and then spend time really understanding the fundamental reasons why a particular learning culture exists. Only then can you see what needs to be done (if anything) and really put a realistic plan in place, which puts people at the centre of any change.

Connect with Danielle on LinkedIn

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