L&D QuestionTime – Denise Hudson Lawson

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

I think that the biggest anxiety within the world of L&D at the moment is where do they fit?  There are so many changes happening with self directed learning and teams taking the path of least resistance to their own learning, using YouTube etc that L&D professionals are wondering how they can control what is happening. My question would be why do they want to control learning?  What L&D professionals should be looking at is how to curate and facilitate learning for the individual, team and orgaisation to get the best learning experience they can.  We should provide the tools and pathways to enable them to learn at their own pace, at a time and location that suits them best while still adding value to the organisation and ensuring role specific objectives in learning are met.  By controlling peoples learning and tying them down to specific paths you are stifling creativity and personal development.  Sure, you need to have certain courses monitored such as Health & Safety and core competency learning, and you do need to guide people for task specific learning, but allow people to grow and develop and then you are able to promote and transfer from within.

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

In my role I am lucky to have access to whatever I need to develop my thinking around L&D and skills.  Learning Now TV, LPI webinars and forums, my PLN on Twitter, groups on LinkedIn, BCS seminars, and of course the diverse library of learning from Pluralsight.  You name it I use it!  I also greatly value conferences and attend many as a Chair, Speaker and supplier.  It is difficult to name individuals as I don’t want people to feel left out, so my philosophy is listen, visit, talk, read it all and assimilate.  Nothing can be better than having a conversation with your peers, agreeing, disagreeing, coming up with new ideas and collaborative working.

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

Big Data & Analytics!  There I said it.  People who know me know I don’t like tests, monitoring performance or silly “happy sheets”, so why am I saying Analytics.  Well, business is in a constant state of flux, but more so than ever before.  Everything is being pushed as ‘going digital’  and one of the key elements is showing business impact and value to the organisation.  As a result, we are changing the way we approach measurement, evaluation and metrics.  We need to look at the impact of learning on the business which is the number 1 request by CEOs today.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?
Key game changers is an interesting one, because we see lots of ‘fad’ game changers which wink at us and say “come over here”.  I personally think that going mobile is one of the biggest game changers.  Reason being is that if you can find it and can curate it you can deliver it you can learn from it.  Mobile learning has come a long way.  With smart phones and tablets we can make learning fun.   Another one is ‘Big Data’.  If you can evidence it you can take it to the top table and show them the impact of the learning your teams are doing.  Positive impact equates to increased productivity, motivation, and of course bottom line.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?
I can’t even tell you what the world of L&D will look like in 2 years let alone 5, but what I would like to see is the democratisation of learning meaning everyone has access to learning where-ever they are and for whatever they need without having to ask permission or spend exorbitant amounts of cash to do it.  I also hope that L&D will become an integrated element of any strategic business planning as opposed to an afterthought.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Considering I left formal education at 17 with a handful of O’levels, I would tell my 21 year old self to do exactly what I have done, learn learn learn and find companies who will help you develop yourself.  I used to worry about the lack of formal qualifications, even though I have gained a number over the years, however I have found on my journey professional qualifications and experience trumps formal qualifications every single time.

About Denise Hudson Lawson:

Denise is an enthusiastic inspirational Keynote speaker, Entrepreneur, Truth Seeker and Eternal Optimist. Her background is in leadership, digital transformation, online learning experiences, cultural coaching, IT and communications.  Denise has created teams from the ground up moving them from initial start-up through to global learning solutions.

Follow Denise on Twitter @DHL66

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