L&D QuestionTime – Doug Shaw

This week in L&D QuestionTime we catch up with Doug Shaw.

Doug advises a wide range of businesses and business leaders on how to make work more effective, productive and enjoyable through smarter, more collaborative work practices. He also speaks at conferences all over the world, writes for a number of publications and is recognised by Huffington Post as the UK’s top expert on social HR in 2013.

Doug is an LPI Consultant – simply click here for further information.

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

The biggest anxiety eh? That sounds stressful. Currently I’m hearing and experiencing a few things, which separately and together are causing challenge, and quite possibly anxiety too. In no particular order here they are:

Getting much more comfortable with uncertainty. This need often manifests itself when we are considering how to make our work a useful journey of exploration and cocreation, whilst at the same time our clients and colleagues are driving down a route consisting entirely of prescribed activity in the mistaken belief that they fully understand what other people need and want, and that therefore this course of action will work. Increasingly I find the practice of improvisation helpful in navigating a useful path through this tension.


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

It might be simpler to ask what isn’t informing my thinking around L&D. Current influences include:

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull
101 Things to Learn in Art School – Kit White
The Year Without Pants – Scott Berkun
Orbiting The Giant Hairball – Godron Mackenzie

In addition I regularly use my social networks to crowdsource for ideas and feedback. My 12 year old daughter Keira nearly always has a perspective I’d not considered, I don’t think we engage the wisdom of children often enough. I regularly reflect on my own work and take coaching support to help me process what I’m learning there.

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

I’m hopeless at predicting the future, so I’ll swerve this question and instead, offer you the thing that is currently exciting me the most, and it’s simply this. Meditation. Checking in with myself each and every day is helping me get clear on how I can be of most use to myself and others. At the time of writing – I’ve taken time to meditate for over 190 consecutive days, I’m finding it a fascinating challenge to keep turning up every day.

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

I’d like to see us being more generous with crediting others for informing our thinking. I’d like to see us being gentler on ourselves and others. I’d like to see more ‘and’, less ‘but’. I’d like to see us accelerate opportunities for everyone to own their own learning and development.

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

Based on my response to question three, feel free to ignore what comes next! I hope to see the classroom being flipped in any direction as a matter of course. I hope to see much more self determined L&D. I hope the obsession with training courses has finally passed. I hope we will be using technology in more innovative ways, currently most of what I see is tech enabling the delivery of very traditional L&D methods. We need to reframe L&D not simply use tech as a way of cheapening the experience and reinforcing how we’ve always done stuff.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Don’t wear those trousers in public



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