L&D QuestionTime – Simon Chilley

In this issue of L&D QuestionTime we hear the views of Simon Chilley, Head of Learning & Development at SThree.

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

The biggest anxiety I see in our profession is demonstrating and properly framing the real value of what we do. A high proportion of my stakeholders, some of whom I’ve worked with for a long time, often underestimate the impact we can have on a problem, opportunity or change. I feel we are often given a ‘comms’ brief and tasked with providing little more than increased knowledge to the workforce. This is a difficult task and one that requires expertise, but it doesn’t make use of what we do best. My purpose in L&D is to create sustained behavioural change which leads to increased organisation performance. I can’t do this by just telling people things, no matter how fancy the delivery and how engaging the medium. My biggest anxiety is that we haven’t properly demonstrated that what we do is about more than ‘knowing stuff’ and is instead much more about ‘doing stuff’. This holds us back by limiting our resources and scope at a time when our profession is going through a paradigm shift in technology and learning science.

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

It’s one of the greatest parts of working in the Learning profession that there is no shortage of people willing to (and capable of) sharing their expertise with the community. The Learning & Performance Institute is a great example of this with many of its members presenting at conferences and speaking at public events. Working in London I find that there’s almost always some event or session that I can attend and so find no shortage of opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and challenge my long-held beliefs. I enjoy LinkedIn groups and similar fora, but I much prefer IRL events!

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

Augmented Reality gives us the opportunity to connect with learners in real time, in the performance environment, as the performance is happening. I’ve seen some fantastic advances in VR and gamification, but smart glasses in particular will be a huge boon for us if we’re able to find a way to have them accepted as a performance aid. AR will enable us to provide Performance Support in real time without the need for specific intervention and will reach far beyond the ‘advanced help menu’ applications we have at the moment. The possibilities are endless, and I imagine we will have to wade through many clunky iterations before we get it right, but it will be huge for us… I think!

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

Can I be honest? I love classroom learning. I know, I know… but I can’t help it! Working directly with people, the fun of it, the positive reinforcement you get from seeing people succeed at things they’ve found difficult… there’s something about that which just grabs me. I want THAT but on a bigger scale with a global reach and quicker. THAT would be a game changer for me 

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

4 years is a long time… but it’s not that long. If I look back 4 years ago we had similar challenges to the ones we had now, only slightly fewer tools with which to tackle them. I imagine the need for a strategic learning and development function will be very similar to the current need. Businesses will still need convincing that we’re a value-add strategic partner and we will still struggle to balance the conflicting needs of the boardroom and the classroom. What I do expect is that we will continue to diversify the way we offer learning. Technology has already changed the way we deliver and describe learning and I expect that to continue, but I also think we will still be slogging through the training requests we’ve always had… only perhaps then I will be able to delete those emails by blinking into my Google glasses rather than bothering to click my mouse!

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Take the time to do the work properly, back yourself to make good choices and always, ALWAYS, ask that question that’s in your head!

About Simon:

Simon has worked in Learning and Development since 2005, he is passionate about learning and has a specific focus on strategic development, experiential learning and learning transfer. He is responsible for L&D Strategy at SThree., with a large, international team of highly experienced L&D professionals increasing the capability of the workforce and enabling the business to realise its strategy.

Simon’s areas of expertise include Executive, Leadership, Management and Personal Development.

Connect with Simon via LinkedIn 

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