This week on Monday I attended the L&D Connect Unconference, and I’ve made myself wait a couple of days before jumping in with reflections.
Change is afoot in the L&D world. We have the right kind of thinking from the likes of Jane Hart who help us to think about the growing skills of the L&D profession. Donald Taylor is in the throes of Learning and Technology conference (and the various others attached to it) where there is various talk about e-learning and mobile learning and the use of social technologies. The good folk at Training Journal have been getting people together and talking about the future skills of L&D, which David Goddin has written about. It’s all high-minded stuff, and makes for good reading.
This storify really captures everything from the day nicely and shows a nice mix of people who were present, this post from Doug Shaw is a really nice piece sharing his thoughts about the day, and this post from Liam Moore is a very well written piece about his reflection of the day.
The unconference allowed for exploration of those topics above, and actually all of those were discussed, and more besides – how do we get inside the learner’s heads to know what they need not what they want? How do we deal with unconscious bias in the workplace? What is and should L&D be worrying about? How can L&D be bold? Important topics in their own rights, with some good points made.
So where does this take us? Did we unravel the mysteries of the L&D universe? Have we gained a clear vision about the future? Did we navel gaze enough?
Well, here’s what it meant for me.
This community of L&D folks cares about not only how we go about making a difference in the organisations we work for, but they also care about moving the profession forward. Some of the words used to describe the day were ‘bold’, ‘movement’, ‘permission’, and ‘anthropological’. (And speaking of how to be bold, check this excellent picture out, drawn by Simon Heath) In and of themselves, they mean little, but in the context of the day, it helped people find a way to connect with what they experienced and gave them a way to act when they return to the day job. That action piece right there is the important function of an event like this.
I remember at the end of the first, there were some questions posed about what was achieved as a result of the conversations and tracks. But I think that’s missing the point. The result is having a developed view on a topic. Be it that you’re convinced you’re right, you’ve been challenged in a useful way, or someone has explained something very useful, you’ve had the opportunity to engage in dialogue. We don’t do that a lot as a people. We don’t take the time to check in with our thinking, or check in with our opinions, we just tend to make a decision and charge on ahead.
The actions that people take though? Well, some people went forth after the last time and tried new techniques they witnessed and experienced such as World Cafe and Open Space. Some made meaningful connections which allowed them to be involved in interesting projects and work. Some made unexpected friendships and found reason to keep talking. Others chose to come together and support each other in a focused session on personal development. There’s more, and I’ve only just picked the examples that come to mind.
We expect a lot from learning events. We expect to be able to go forth and change behaviours and patterns as a result of that experience. We forget that behaviour change takes patience, time, and purposeful actions. I’d say with some degree of confidence that everyone who attended last year’s session, and this week’s will be able to go away and try something different which will have a positive impact on those they work with. And that’s the difference this community is making.