‘We need to create a Learning Culture.’

‘If we had a Learning Culture these problems would go away.’

‘This year’s strategy is to create a Learning Culture across the business.’

Heard it? I’m sure you have.

I’m also sure you’re racking your brains to work out why your latest brochure launch hasn’t worked. Or your new course. Or new LMS. Sorry, ‘learning experience platform’. Or why you’re struggling to define any impact from that last ‘solution’. Or that cool video you’ve sent out to increase engagement in learning.

‘I’m too busy to learn.’

‘I don’t even know what’s on the LMS.’

‘I’ve had a sudden spike in workload, I’m going to have to pull out from tomorrow’s course.’

They’re all things that frustrate us when we hear them. Like many people we put in the extra hours to make our interactions memorable, we may spend hours in trains, planes and automobiles going to where our people are to give them what we think they need. Only to be disappointed.

Somebody is definitely at fault. And I’m going to put my neck out here and say it’s potentially you. Maybe I don’t know you which may seem unfair, but please hear me out. It’s coming from a place of love, not loathe.

Have you ever stopped to consider that actually it’s our fault that this ‘learning culture’ is struggling to get off the ground?

Those three statements above were not from people in the business. I heard them from fellow professionals at a recent L&D event.

Yes, you’re spot on. I heard those statements from fellow L&D professionals, at an industry event where we’re supposed to be getting together to share knowledge, best practice and work out how we make our businesses the best we can possibly be.

I was shocked. So I did some digging. I looked at the exhibitor list and did some ‘back of an envelope’ categorisation which came out as this:

  • 6 Consultancy firms
  • 8 LMS providers
  • 12 software providers (to sit on top, or complement existing services)
  • 33 External Training providers (generic to specialist)
  • 4 eLearning Providers
  • 9 Content providers
  • 6 Events/Experience providers
  • 1 Leadership Development provider
  • 2 AV/Logistics providers
  • 3 publishers
  • 1 Membership body

And, drum roll please.

1 company providing skills for L&D professionals.

Not a typo. One. Uno. Un. Eins. Odin. Bat. Wahed.

That’s why I was shocked. I’m not blaming the event’s organisers at all, they have a theme, they have space to sell and they put on smoothly organised events. They also often provide free drinks after day one so I’m not getting in bad books.

I’m also not anti-provider (I used to work for TAP), sometimes you’re going to need a specialist to look after something specialist. I’m good with that and would always encourage that.

So, there are two things here as far as I can see, they may be linked, they may just be happening independent of each other.

  1. Industry events are focusing on how we outsource the work we do and our touchpoints on the learning experience, rather than showcasing the opportunities we have as professionals to raise our game, our skillset and become role models for learning in our workplaces
  2. We’re neglecting our own personal learning culture which is then impacting our workplace learning culture

What on earth do we do then? Here’s a few suggestions and I’d love to hear yours:

  • Use these gatherings and events as a reason to meet people in your network, to actively network or to create your own ‘mini-gathering’ where you are learning from each other about how you can improve experiences, rather than outsourcing them
  • Find other L&D events where it is purely about increasing your own experiences, understanding, tools and capability (School of Facilitation, L&D Unconferences, L&D Co-work, Mindchimp PLN)
  • Sit down and take a long hard look at yourself. Ok, sounds a bit over the top but have a think about some of these questions and how that aligns (or doesn’t) with the culture you’re trying to achieve:
    1. When was the last time I cancelled on attending a course/workshop/virtual classroom because I had something else to do?
    1. When was the last time I took on some development, left the classroom/virtual session/platform and did absolutely nothing with it?
    1. When was the last time I really looked at everything we offer and at least be clear on what there is for people, rather than just point them towards a platform?

These are the steps we can begin to take to become role models for what a culture of learning looks like. And that’s what it is as far as I’m concerned, walking the walk and talking the talk. Not ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

What are you going to do to improve your personal learning culture?

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