LnDConnect Unconference – World Cafe Summary

I had the pleasure of attending my first unconference on the 24th April, the event was the The LnD Connect Unconference and a totally new experience for me.  A new experience that I was really looking forward to given the outputs I saw from the L&D Capability in Australia Unconference .

The event was very informal and a great opportunity for L&D professionals to get together to discuss topics of interest and what I found fantastic is that we built the structure of the day as we went, no script, no messing – just what interested us and what mattered most. Here’s a picture of @Naturalgrump opening up the event

Looking back I can’t believe we covered so much, I took some notes using my trusted Asus Transformer and want to share some of the conversations we had from the World Cafe Session which was the first session and really set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

The notes were taken from the opening three questions and subsequent conversations and whilst I’ve tidied them up a little, they are pretty much verbatim;

What should L&D stop doing?

  • Stop irrelevance- start doing stuff that is relevant and adds value
  • Stop training because it’s easy and L&D assuming what the business needs
  • Stop talking a different language > performance? Not necessarily for @NiallGavinUK  (he works in transport and performance means things arrive on time)
  • Stop having conversation with the wrong people
  • Stop top down approaches and focus on bottom up / left to right engagment and involve people who matter
  • Stop assuming we have all the answers
  • Stop letting our stakeholders tell us what’s wrong
  • Stop being reactive be more proactive
  • Stop sheep dipping
  • Stop taking the easy option
  • Stop stand and deliver
  • Stop sticking with traditional approaches, it’s time to be brave
  • Stop being afraid of failure – learn from things that don’t work and improve
  • Stop talking about informal learning like its something we can deliver
  • Stop doing it FOR people, personalise learning and help people develop skills to take ownership for their own learning
  • Stop bad mouthing training – 121 coaching IS training
  • Stop designing bad training eg death by PPT, designing content for the sake of it
  • Stop being driven by vendors and trends
  • Stop focusing on e / m learning and focus on helping people, creating conditions and experiences
  • Stop stopping at delivery – it’s time to make sure knowledge, skills and behaviours change so focus on transfer and how to demonstrate & track this
  • Stop taking on too much and focus on what matters
  • Stop wasting time debating what words mean and do what we are here to do
  • Stop flowering things up and get on and deliver
  • Stop calling ourselves L&D

 What’s happening in L&D that excites you?

  • Communities of practice – smart folk are recognising they can expand knowledge and horizons
  • Developing internal AND external networks
  • Connecting with like minded individuals and look out from the opportunities to learn from one another
  • Challenging perceptions and trying new things
  • Social learning – quantify / measure feedback in real time – building momentum
  • Learning from consumerism and how people learn outside of the workplace
  • The changing role of management and light bulb moments – move from command & control to engage & nurture
  • Perception of community of practices by middle managers – connecting their people and celebrating expertise
  • A movement – L&D agents of change – exciting times
  • Greater expectations on training but culture still the same around what is this looks like
  • Changing perception of elearning / social
  • How we can help people understand new methods and move to the future
  • Encouraging trust and transparency within business – role model the RIGHT behaviours

 What’s happening tomorrow / in the future for L&D?

  • To take the opportunity to show that using tools, technology, any form of communication & collaboration is all LEARNING !!!!
  • Demonstrate value – role model
  • To put learning at the heart of the organisation
  • Investigation of other orgs and learn good practice from all industries
  • Ask our customers and become closer to our customers
  • It is still about conversations whether face to face or online
  • Allowing time to develop things and to demonstrate the value – sticking with something because it will make a difference
  • Working with our businesses in partnership – stop being seen as a support function
  • Having conversations that have IMPACT
  • To develop peoples capability and change attitude towards learning & development
  • To move away from only having a “Hammer” to the “Batman utility belt”
  • Opportunity to cut away front end stuff and do route cause analysis – change culture & challenge perception – make a sustainable change using all tools at our disposal

So as you can see we covered quite a lot in about 45 minutes!

One thing I took away from a personal perspective was that my taking notes didn’t impact the groups in anyway or have an adverse affect on my ability to contribute. It’s been great to capture these conversations and to be able to reflect on them following the event so I’ll look to do this again in the future.

It really was a thought provoking day and I’d value your thoughts on any the above;

> Would you challenge or question any of the things that you can see here?

> Can you add to them and/or develop them further?

I’d like to thank the organisers of the LnD Connect Conference for putting on a fantastic event and if you are interested in finding out more then follow the hashtag #ldcu and follow @LnDConnect to join in the conversations.

Finally @MartinCouzins (seen below in the red shirt) has curated all the posts and resources from the event which you can find here including a great Storify from @KingFisherCoach and a great video summarising the event filmed by Martin himself.

Round up of posts from the L&D Connect Unconference

15 thoughts on “LnDConnect Unconference – World Cafe Summary

  1. Pingback: Round-up of posts from the L&D Connect Unconference | itsdevelopmental.com

  2. Congrats on the blog, Mike. And as for this review, well a fantastic resource. Loads to chew over and reflect on so thanks for posting up. And keep up the good work on the blog ~:)

  3. Thanks Martin, I think I’ll be able to use the content to get some other thoughts down at some point. Well that’s the idea anyway plus I’ve got some notes from the other sessions I need to write up. Stay tuned 🙂

  4. Nice report Mike, the list of some of the current woes besetting L&D and then the hope and future possibilities provides a bit of a blueprint for us to move on in our drive to inrease our impact, create our longevity as a profession and ultimately be involved in all things around individual and collective brilliance.

    My considerations for furthering this are
    (a) Those in the know already get this and were probably in that room party because they get it, so how do we get the “others” into this and helping make it happen?
    (b) How do we all come together to get the business and academia world to recognise what “nu” L&D is all about and teach it, endorse it, let it flourish by supporting it? Maybe we need a proper movement? Maybe we already have one? I sense we’re all doing our thing and it SEEMS to be coming together but will it be soon enough? Powerful enough? Will it bring the L&D profession into the 2020 model we passionately believe it needs to be?

    I think your capture of some cracking outputs here is useful to confirming those who’re up to transforming our profession that they’re not alone and those sitting waiting for something to happens or ignoring the need to change to move away from their inertia / denial and into action. Or an alternate career perhaps? I’m in this game to create a better future, and have a ball doing it. From this post it seems there are others who want that too…there is hope…

    • Great comment Perry thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I have to say the day felt different to anything I’ve been involved in before due to the people who attended and I’ve got the unconference bug. Booked my ticket for the HR Connect unconference last week as I think the tools that connect people are key to unlocking the:

      1) Potential of L&D (what/who ever that looks like)
      2) Potential of individuals
      3) Potential of an organisation

      In answer to your points

      (a) We must demonstrate the value of doing things differently at every opportunity, we need to amplify these sorts of events and the content from them using as many different tools as possible and go back in to our respective businesses (or if you are the business) then change & challenge how things are done. Sometimes we just need to do it and stop talking about it.
      (b) For me it’s about connections, the more people we can get to attend events like LnD Connect or similar events where L&D peeps can get together from different backgrounds, industries and with different perspectives and experiences the more we can share ideas and develop out thinking as a profession.

      “I’m in this game to create a better future, and have a ball doing it.” – LOVE THIS!

      I hope we’ll get the opportunity to work together to do this…..

  5. Mike – great looking site and first article. The points you list could be exactly what we are going through at the moment, but as Perry said, when we have these discussions, we’re preaching to the converted. I like the point about ‘stop being driven by vendors and trends’. The learning itself doesn’t change, just our delivery of it. Don’t know when the last time we went to the business and asked them what they want, rather than said – here is what you need!!

    Look forward to reading more of your thoughts!

    • Thanks for stopping by Damian and for the feedback, really appreciated.

      On the point you make about preaching to the converted I still think it’s only pockets of L&D, I’m still not sure that mindsets have changed sufficiently in L&D let alone non L&D people…yet. Certainly when I spoke to some operational peeps last week their only thought to meet a ‘training’ need was to create / design learning for it to be delivered in a classroom……there is still much work to do 🙂

  6. Hi Mike – great to see you have taken the plunge and started your own blog, hopefully that might motivate me to dust mine off more regularly. It sounds like the unconference was a great experience, I’m a bit gutted I didn’t make the effort myself.

    I think the key point that Damian and Perry have identified is how kind of events only attract the “enlightened” minds, so unless the people who attend go away with some kind of common purpose that translates into action, they don’t result in any wider change. Even if they do it’s asking a lot for 50 people from disparate backgrounds to change a profession.

    It needs leadership, but what that means in this context is hard to say. There are plenty of “thought leaders” in our industry, perhaps too many and yet they haven’t managed to effect the changes we want to see. So it’s more about personal leadership, spreading the word, walking the walk and showing what can be done. But as you and I both know that’s a long and hard road to tread in some organisations. However, things do change when leaders care about them. I’m witnessing some really exciting developments where I work at the moment. I’d like to think it’s because of my persistent efforts and strong influencing skills that people have come round to my way of thinking. In reality it’s because the most senior people recognised the importance of changing our culture to progress as an organisation.

    So if you want to see change find a way to make the leaders in your business care about it, then they will be receptive to the ideas you have (as long as they’re the right ideas of course)

    • Hi Sam, thanks for your comment and I couldn’t agree with you more around leadership. Your thoughts have given me an idea for another blog so if I do this one then you’ve got to blow the dust off yours and let us know about the exciting things you’re doing AND just how persistent you’ve been. Deal?

      • Ok you’re on. One last thing I meant to add earlier.. maybe this is the point we stop hiding in our little silos; elearning, coaching, OD, talent management, performance management etc. All the progressive people in these areas have spent too long playing with themselves (so to speak), instead of joining forces. I know elearning is guilty of looking down on the other parts of hr and complaining that we don’t belong there, when in reality we need to embrace it to help drive the changes that need to happen.

  7. Great responses Mike – especially from those who weren’t at LnDConnect – really spreading the word! Interestingly, although we said it wasn’t necessary for people to capture outputs from their discussions – some did and your summary is very comprehensive! It’s really useful to see and has re-confirmed my interest (as a bit of an old hand, potentially ‘old-school’ even?) in helping the L&D profession evolve into something new and exciting! It really feels like we are on the edge of the next phase – maybe the next unconference will tip us over … I quite like the theme of L&D in 2020 – What will it look like?

    Thanks for posting this Mike and I look forward to your other notes and reflections from the day.

    • Thanks for your comment and I didn’t come with the intention to take (or type) notes, it kind of just happened. To be honest I think the actual event and people who attended helped here due to the fact it felt natural, people didn’t look at me and think I was being ignorant and I felt it actually helped me to contribute.

      I really feel that by taking notes & photos in some of the sessions we’ve been able to capture the essence of the event and continue the conversations with a wider audience.

      I’m in the same boat, I’m excited by the theme of L&D in 2020 but I’m more excited by the theme of L&D in 2013,14 & 15. Perhaps in 2020 we’ll look back and remember these years as being the years that things really did start to change and we had a hand in changing them. Why not eh? 🙂

  8. Pingback: Assumed Constraints and L&D Thinking | The Learning Asylum

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