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  • As we dig deeper into answering our question ‘Is Purpose Working?’ we find that while Purpose is a very new concept for many, having a conscious organizational Purpose has been BAU for some corporations for decades. This week we meet one, which had it written down in 1960, and which specifically states that the company’s”first and foremost priority” is to contribute to human welfare. The company in question is $30bn, Ireland and Minnesota-headquartered Medtronic, the world's largest medical technology company and creator of the world’s first battery-operated pacemaker. And we also learn how, 60 years after being defined, it’s a Purpose statement that continues to serve as an ethical framework and inspirational goal for all 90,000-plus employees around the world. Explaining all this for us is the company’s Vice President, Global Learning and Leadership, Jeff Orlando. Based in Philadelphia, Jeff explains just how new he is in post—he joined the very week the company had to move into Lockdown, in March—but also how quickly he’s become part of the Medtronic family. With the help of RedThread Research, we find out just how-with those guys actually leading the debate with Jeff this time, and me joining in with a discussion at the end (well, actually the beginning this time, to keep things fresh)! As you’re about to hear, for me, and for Dani and Stacia, what makes Medtronic’s conscious sense of Purpose even more interesting than its heritage and on-going affirmation (something we get into big time in the conversation) is that it’s marked by ritual. In 1974, the company introduced a special in-house “mission and medallion ceremony” that’s now held many times a year at facilities all over the world; an employee gets to receive the medallion as a reminder of the honor and responsibility they have in fulfilling our mission. Acting as a deliberately symbolic way of bringing new employees together behind the company’s defined common purpose, could rituals like this be something other CEOs pursuing Purpose be looking at doing too? Should your Purpose statement really act like the Constitution for you over time? It’s a fascinating question—and one bound to come up, I predict, at the special ‘Is Purpose Working?’ webinar early in 2021, our live, online gated experience where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Jeff. Make sure you can ask your question about Purpose and ceremony by locking-in today your free place at the webinar at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. So: all set? Great—so let’s hear about Jeff starting with our our executive summary of the conversation and how Purpose is brought up to make hard decisions, how you can’t ‘fake it’ and why Purpose isn’t just in pockets across the company, which as well as: a shared podcast participant history (Deloitte); how he sees L&D’s contribution is creating organisational capability to win in the market; how companies with a defined Purpose seem to have so much passion about it; the idea all employees are really only ever ‘stewards’ of the Mission (the Medtronic Purpose); how L&D has an important place in creating the space and time for the ceremonies that can anchor your Purpose work; how Medtronic's HR accepts the Mission is its Mission, too—but it still needs to help the company meet immediate targets; and much more.

  • Purpose has become more and more a key concept for modern organizations: type ‘Purpose in American business’ into Google, and you’ll get 1,740,000,000 responses, for example. But how real is it? Is it the same as CSR, or giving corporate money to a good cause? And, crucially, what’s its connection—if any—to L&D? On this special new Season on the podcast, we’re attempting to answer these and other questions about Purpose under the rubric, ‘Is Purpose Working?’ As you may know by now, we’re doing this with the help of RedThread Research and with the welcome support of an ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd, a developer of a collaborative online learning platform that builds high-value capabilities that result in real impact. In this second conversation in our researches, I am delighted to be joined by RedThread principal analyst Stacia Garr. Stacia proves invaluable in us both teasing out insight from someone who just might be the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfillment at work: consultant, VC, social entrepreneur and Seattle-based Purpose influencer Aaron Hurst. In 2014, his book ‘The Purpose Economy’ brought widespread attention to the concept of Purpose and its importance for our lives today (for me especially). Now CEO and co-founder of Imperative, a platform that connects and supports employees as peer career coaches, Aaron describes how his new venture enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that drive mindset and behavior changes that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment. It’s work that caps his famous stint as the founder of pro bono volunteer channel The Taproot Foundation, which connects talented people with non-profits—and, we hear, connects him and one of the other people on the podcast! Finally, a reminder that all this ‘Is Purpose Working?’ work is set to peak in a live, online gated experience where Dani, Stacia and I will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Aaron. Be assured you will also be able to debate with us and get your question asked—but to get your questions in nice and early, lock-in your free place at the webinar over at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. Now let’s go, and be sure to stick around for a quick three-way debate on what Aaron told us at the end. So now, let’s hear from someone you might style the Father of Purpose, debating such key milestones of his career and thinking as: how he ended up in Seattle after ‘something of a nomadic career;' why the non-profit world he started working in frustrated him—and what he did about it; why Taproot was just a vitamin, not real nutrition; why he wrote 'The Purpose Economy' and how he’s convinced we’re in a whole new economic era fuelled by ‘meaning;' what last year’s Business Roundtable commitment to Purpose did for a lot of CEOs; and much more.

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  • Back in August 2019, the Business Roundtable—an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies—said that the Purpose of American business was no longer to maximise shareholder value but to instead promote an economy that ‘serves all Americans.’ “CEOs work to generate profits and return value to shareholders, but the best-run companies do more,” stated one Roundtable member, Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation. “They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.” A lot’s happened since then, as we all know, but multiple events over the first few months of Lockdown seems to bear out the idea that Purpose really has become front of mind for many corporations right now. So we decided to find out more—and in this special new Season on the podcast, that’s what we’ll be doing: answering (if we can) the key question, Is Purpose Working? We’re joined on our journey by the super-smart ladies of RedThread Research, who have kicked off an in-depth, on-going probe into Purpose in parallel to our show. And even better, we’re being supported by a great ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd. Global enterprises rely on its collaborative online learning platform to build high-value capabilities that result in real impact, with its customers working to deliver powerful, engaging learning that activates deep skill development, from leadership to design thinking and digital transformation, as well as driving measurable business outcomes. It’s also well worth knowing that the Season culminates in a live online gated experience where I will be debate all the Learnings from the Season with RedThread, and you will be able to debate with us the implications and ask your questions and get your comments heard. Secure your free place at that today, over at www.novoed.com/purpose... then listen in to this scene setter, where I and Lead ‘Threadhead’ Stacia Sherman Garr set some goals and identify core Purpose topics, such as: why ‘Why we do what we do’ seems to be the best definition of Purpose we’ve found
    why ‘cause’ isn’t the same as Purpose; why HR needs to get more involved when it comes to Purpose; some hints on some of the amazing writers, thinkers, venture capitalists and stakeholders coming on the Season; why are people coming together to work? the need to look at all the axes Purpose affects—leadership, people and systems; a new concept: the stake-giver; a quick progress report on RedThread’s ongoing Purpose research exercise; what Purpose in a Pandemic looks like; and much more.

  • Founder & Principal of boutique HR consulting firm Daimler Partners, Melissa Daimler has always said that if you do it right, work is the best learning lab you could possibly want. She’s certainly done her best to make that maxim work for her: we’re talking about a career that started with Psychology at college to setting up Adobe’s entire L&D practice to experiencing Twitter grow from 400 to 4000 staff in her four years there. With WeWork also on her curriculum vitae, you know you’re dealing with a major player—so how refreshing to find out in person Melissa is down to Earth, great fun, whip-smart but still very much looking to keep learning. She is a perfect interview for this next episode in our on-going COVID-19 mini-Season ‘From What-If To What Now?’ where we’re exploring what the massive change rippling through the worlds of Work and Learning looks like at ground level. Oh, and last but absolutely not least: our episode is sponsored by by the great guys over at genuinely innovative SMS-based learning innovators Arist (www.arist.co), who’re working 24x7 helping brands and non-profits alike create and launch amazing text message courses in minutes, not days. So sit back or get the New Balance on with us for an hour as we review her singular professional journey, talk about how COVID may or may not be permanently changing the work culture of her adopted home, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, see what systems thinking can offer the L&D practitioner, as well as: why a certain dot com bubble helped her choose her forever home… which she still loves despite having to keep checking the air quality index; what it’s like to work at a place that got a tad too excited about a big market cap; what she thinks ‘culture’ really is; how are all good L&D practitioners know everything’s interconnected already; how the Pandemic is showing the best leaders asking such good questions of themselves, their execs but most importantly, their teams; why we must work out a way to get back the office experience (and that isn’t just the amazing donuts at Twitter); where her personal sense of purpose and inspiration comes from; and much more.

  • Time was, the biggest L&D brand was a long-vanished enterprise called the Katherine Gibbs school. What it taught: the hugely in-demand skill of working the world’s most valuable piece of information technology, the manual typewriter—a technology that hit its peak in 1975 with the Smith Corona Super 5-Series portable electric typewriters, famed for being quiet, efficient, and fast. But 1975, as we hear in this latest episode in ‘Season Eight,' where we’re ‘Connecting The Dots’ to form a picture of what we’ve learned in 18 months of our investigation into the future of Workplace Learning, was also the year that the company behind that awesome machine and the subject of all the hard training at the Gibbs schools went bust. 1975 was also the year two kids surnamed Gates and Allen teamed up to start a company called Microsoft, that 6 years later would release its first ever stab at word processing software. So in this episode, it’s a lot of déjà vu; we replay how some once-invisible industries crumble, how once-ubiquitous careers (membership in the company typing pool) can vanish, and how skills that once seemed really worth learning (transcription and stenography) can become worthless almost overnight. Along the way, we meet some interesting historical characters, but end with a really challenging proposition: what if we’re seeing very similar patterns, where we’re teaching stuff that in a few short years no-one will need to know… and we might be calling it computer programming right now?

  • Here’s a question that’s fascinated me my entire professional life: How might technology change the future of Learning and Work? But actually, as I finally figured out only a couple of years back, the more important is WHY technology change the future of Learning and Work. That insight is what eventually led me to set up both The Learning Futures Group and this podcast, which has now hit over 50 episodes in just over a year. And what I’ve Learned in that journey is what I am starting to try and feed back to you guys in this special season of the podcast, which is where I am trying to ‘Connect The Dots’ and map out some provisional findings from my conversations with CLOs, edtech pioneers, Learning Scientists and thinkers out there. In this second episode in the run, I return to what sparked my personal journey—the arrival of Microsoft’s third CEO into my life—as well as relevant soundbites from just a few of the great people we’ve met so far. So, welcome (or welcome back) to ‘Season Eight:' with an overall theme of ‘Connecting The Dots,’ our aim is to move slightly away from our interview format to a more ‘radio feature’ audio style, where we are pulling together insights gained from all of our conversations and research to scope out what L&D needs to do to catch up with Our New Normal, starting with: another stimulating clip from super-inspirational MS’s Satya Nadella on why he led the charge to move from a ‘Know-it-all’ to a ‘Learn-it-all’ culture (and why that freaked me out!); what some of our podcast guests are worried about; a scary look into a workless world, which is already here for a big part of young Humanity (hint: William Gibson—The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed); and much more.

  • Way back in 2019, we started this fifth season of the podcast, ‘Learning Leaders,’ with a commitment to let you hear from Learning Leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, EdTech, and talent leadership disciplines. The program was originally initiated in collaboration with The Learning Leaders Conference, and some episodes were recorded onsite at the 2019 conference in Washington DC Watch this space for more details; this is one, though we haven’t featured a chat done this way for some time. We have a great return episode, though: Fernando Sanchez-Arias, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Talent Development (ATD) but who is now powering away at a Washington, DC-based think tank for research and education on culture, leadership, innovation, connection, and knowledge he set up called the CLICK (Culture, Leadership, Innovation, Connection, and Knowledge) Institute. When we spoke last year, Sr Sanchez-Arias was Head of Learning, Cultural Diversity, and Innovation at the body after being Chief People Officer; now he is now the organisation’s pro bono Co-Chair of the Advisory and Academic Councils. It was great to talk to Fernando last year, and it’s wonderful to be able to share this with you now. I am also delighted to say this is another episode in the Season sponsored by our friends at The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR leaders and which is being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace. It’s a great project, and I hope you have time to join us—but first, let’s hear from Fernando and his current schedule of splitting his time between D.C. and a ‘beautiful, green’ planned community in North Houston, as well as: his personal journey from studying business in Venezuela to Texas via Belgium, via time in armed forces, oil &gas and academic contexts that’s included many great milestones—including his years leveraging Learning as a way of building Trust with the world’s largest home improvement firm, Home Depot (which we dive right into!); his deep interest in multi-disciplinary approaches combined with a primary alliance to data, research and the science wherever possible; the way he’s pursuing the Lifelong Learning pathway, including an on-going Micro Master program; the aims and tactics of the CLICK Institute and the international network he’s rapidly building with it; the five ‘diseases’ that ‘kill’ innovation; the mentors who challenged him to leave his original love, business administration, to this world; and much more.

  • It’s our first birthday as a podcast! Though actually just over a full circle round the Sun, we’re still celebrating… yup, an amazing 16 months of podcasting, with this as our 50th episode—landmarks accompanied, we’re amazed to say, 20,000 downloads. And the way we’re doing that isn’t so much with cake and candles, awesome as those things are, but a new format for ‘Learning Is The New Working’ we’re calling ‘Season Eight.’ With an overall theme of ‘Connecting The Dots,’ our aim in this new collection of episodes is to move away from our interview format to a more ‘feature’ audio style, where we pull together sound clips and insights gained from all of our conversations and research in short chunks we will lay out our manifesto for what L&D needs to do to catch up with The Fourth Industrial Revolution, natch). In this scene setter we review where we are, starting with that great quote we reference from President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back in 2009—that you should never let a serious crisis go to waste as, “it’s an opportunity to do things that you did not think you could do before.” We then fast forward to remind ourselves about when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told us about the Future of Work arriving, a great observation from Kevin Oakes of i4CP, who we met back in Season Six, as well as: an audio snapshot of me asking CLOs if they feel they’re confident they’re adding value back in February in London; reminding ourselves what some recent podcast guests like E&Y's Mary Slaughter and Cargill's Julie Dervin have been saying about the crisis; a fascinating look back into when the robots started coming… and it’s been longer than you think! and much more.

  • Last week, in our on-going COVID-19 related mini-Season here at ‘Learning Is The New Working,’ ‘From What-If To What Now?’ we kicked off a special three-part discussion on the importance of Listening. That was with the fascinating Oscar Trimboli, who’s all about Deep Listening, but this week in the second in our trio of dialogs we go in a new direction: the Listen-Think-Speak approach to communication and collaboration in. That’s with today’s guest, Colorado-based Dana Dupuis, who is about to take you on a journey into deep background into the science of Listening. Dana and colleagues have spent eight years developing a truly cognitive-based listening assessment that’s got real science behind it, and is emerging as statistically reliable. Now, the assessment helps leaders and teams quickly understand and adapt to the listening styles and corresponding behaviors of team members, prospective clients, individual employees and future hires. So, as Dana is very much a Learning Scientist, that’s why we’ve put her here in Season Three, ‘The Learning Scientists,’ where we’re meeting practitioners drawing on science based practices to move the L&D profession forward. Be assured you’re in good hands here, as Dana’s actual day job is about knowing this amazing stuff: as of February this year she’s Executive Director, Research and Development in what her employer has specifically called out to be ‘Listening Science.’ That new employer is none other than virtual communications and leadership experts Mandel, and I don’t need to tell regular listeners that Mandel is a friend of the podcast and the on-going sponsor of these ‘Learning Scientists’ profiles. So, thanks once again to Mandel, and to Dana, who walks us through how important Listening has been to her over her career, which actually started in Sales, before she got to her current position, as well as: why she lives in Carbondale, Colorado and why the people and the mountains make it such a special place for her and her family; what she decided was a consistently poor approach to speaking to customers in Sales told her about the importance of Listening; why she gravitated to Mandel (hint: its emphasis on presentation skills acquisition); our different Listening ‘habits,’ what they are, and why it’s useful to know what the range is; a brief history of 70 years of study of Listening in business; why Microsoft saw a need to move from ‘Pitch’ to ‘Listening’ Perfect (and how spotting your customer’s Listening style connects to more effective selling to them); the connection between Listening and Empathy; how your humble podcast did on her test! and much more.

  • In our on-going COVID-19 mini-Season at ‘Learning Is The New Working,’ ‘From What-If To What Now?’ we’re exploring what the massive change rippling through the worlds of Work and Learning looks like on the ground. This episode, we get a unique perspective from author, mentor and free-thinker Oscar Trimboli, who is 100% all about using what he calls “the gift of Listening.” This conversation also starts a mini-season about Listening on the podcast, incidentally, as I think it’s such an important topic; and as Oscar tells us, we listen at 125 words a minute… but can think at 900. Essentially, Oscar believes that if we learned to Listen better, we’d be able to see positive change in homes, workplaces and the world itself—and that leadership teams need to focus their attention and their listening on building organisations that have impact and create powerful legacies for the the people they serve, today and, more importantly, for future generations. An Aussie marketing and technology industry veteran, with over 30 years' experience across general management, sales, marketing and operations for major brands including Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Polycom, Professional Advantage and Vodafone, Oscar now consults with organisations such as AstraZeneca, Google, and Qantas, from his Sydney home base. Let’s ‘Listen Deeply’ together, then, to Oscar, and it’s a Listen that involves a fascinating mental experiment and some great war stories, and what he has to say about: his quest, which has already touched 1.7 million; the many costs of not Listening, from the start of COVID to project failure; his definition of Listening, which centers on the willingness to have your mind changed; the invisible internal and external distractions that keep us from really Listening (but also, some tools to help!); silence, and its different cultural weights; the deep business value of listening beyond the first few words to what hasn’t been said yet; some excellent tips on how to make Zoom effective for you and your team; and much more.

  • What’s it like trying to lead change at a two century old beloved brand? Precisely the question we asked this week’s guest, Gina Jeneroux, who’s doing just that at one of Canada’s biggest financial services companies, BMO Financial Group. Toronto-based Gina, who’s Chief Learning Officer, more than answers that intriguing question—and is thus the perfect next up in our on-going dialogs with ‘Learning Leaders’ in this thematic season of Learning Is The New Working. Tune in, then, as they used to say, to hear her thoughts on her role and contribution which covers everything from advancing performance through enterprise learning strategy, design, operations and governance. It was great to talk to her, and I am also delighted to say this is another episode in the Season sponsored by our friends at The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR leaders. The all-online courses are being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm providing peer networks, professional development and research on What’s Next in Transforming and Re-Imagining HR. Future Workplace operates the Future Workplace Network, a consortium of HR, Talent, and Corporate Learning leaders from FORTUNE 1,000 organizations who convene four times a year to discuss and debate what’s next in preparing for the future of work. It’s a great project, and I hope you have time to dip in, but as an appetiser, let’s hear from Gina and her twin role of leading the Bank’s Corporate University, a beautiful real-world facility called the Institute for Learning, as well as: her personal journey from working as a Saturday morning teller as a teenager to leading a 200-strong internal L&D resource for her company; what BMO’s trying to do with a CAN$80m a year formal- and informal-training war chest across the group a priority investment; how training is changing to meet the needs of BMO’s 12m customers; practical D&I; ‘that March weekend’ when she went to helping 500 people #WFH to over 30000; why her University is shaped like a bow and arrow design; and much more.

  • With a 25-year plus pedigree in applying advanced algorithms to Learning, Danish company Area9 Lyceum believes that we should encourage Learners to make mistakes and pursue misconceptions so that we can better duplicate real-world cognitive situations. Driving that idea both internally and externally for the company for the past four years is its Chief Learning Officer and Evangelist, Yorkshireman Nick Howe—the perfect next guest in our on-going ‘Learning Scientist’ thematic season here on ‘Learning Is The New Working.’ Why perfect? Because he’s another Workplace Learning thinker (and doer) who also sees himself, as so many of you guys do, too, as “Fighting the good fight against outdated, misused, misleading and just plain wrong approaches to Teaching and Learning.” So buckle up, as we get through quite a lot of deep theory in our hour’s sit-down with Nick, covering everything from public sculpture to the intriguing work of pioneering Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson (prior to his sad recent departure, on the firm’s Advisory Board), and what it might mean for us in L&D going forward. Listener warning; there’s a little break at about 49 mins in due to connectivity issues on the day which we have hidden with a music cue, but please don’t think that’s the end of the episode! Along the way, we also rap about: his personal journey to where he is today (Northern England to Southern Florida, from Chemistry to Learning personalization); the Area9 Lyceum story (hint: there’s a cool story between both parts of the name!) and its origin story in medical and computer specialists finding common ground in helping doctors stop making mistakes; what terms like ‘confidence’ and ‘adaptive’ really mean for him; ‘not a buzzword company’—the on-going relevance for academic research into what his company is trying to do; why giving access to 10,000 courses doesn’t mean your job is over as a CLO; why he thinks so much about the centrality of motivation; and much more.

  • In our ongoing ‘Learning Leaders’ thematic season here at Learning Is The New Working, we’re super-keen on getting real insights into how the Chief Learning Officer’s job is changing (and how they themselves are leading that change). We’ve got a perfect example in this week’s conversation with Julie Dervin, since 2016 Head of Global Learning & Development at the largest privately-held corporation in the entire US in terms of revenue, Cargill, a Mid-West headquartered leader in everything from food and beverage to meat and poultry production. Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Julie has actually been at the organisation in senior roles since 2008 after coming over from eight years with information tech firm Insight. At Cargill, she is currently charged with leading the execution of a whole new L&D vision and strategy in order to accelerate organizational learning, strengthen the learning culture and dramatically improve the employee learning experience—a role she sees as also encompassing positioning Learning as a catalyst for accelerating positive change and transformation. Incidentally, Learning Futures Group is collaborating with Julie and other CLOs on a September course for The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR and HRIS team members. The all-online courses are being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm providing peer networks, professional development and research on What’s Next in Transforming and Re-Imagining HR. Future Workplace operates the Future Workplace Network, a consortium of HR, Talent, and Corporate Learning leaders from FORTUNE 1,000 organizations who convene four times a year to discuss and debate what’s next in preparing for the future of work. I’m delighted to say the Academy are also sponsors for this episode, but let’s dive into our great conversation with her, covering everything from: how Cargill’s HR sees L&D and how that maps on to her firm’s federated model of content ownership; drivers for change and transformation in her vital, global market—agriculture—and a ‘need for speed’; connecting her company’s purpose of safe, responsible and sustainable food production with Learning; what making L&D more useful and effective at Cargill’s looks like (hint: less specific content change, more a whole new way of delivering Learning); the importance of building a strong relationship with her peers in IT; DevOps and Agile as L&D aids; a peek into her Innovation Lab (and how she’s ‘hard-wiring’ Innovation into management goals); how she and her team might have found a better way to organize all these virtual calls we’re having to do! and much more.

  • Hi y'all, hope you are all staying healthy and safe. We're taking a vacation this week, and so we're re-publishing one of our most listened to episodes from last year, our second-ever episode where we sat down with RedThread Research's Dani Johnson. A big theme for Dani (now and then) is the importance of putting humanity back into our Learning Programs. That's a passion that feels even more relevant today in our COVID world, where digitally mediated interaction is making true human connection a little tougher, but it remains an essential goal for any Learning Leader. Though we're sure Dani doesn't need any introduction, but she is of course Co-Founder and Principal Analyst at her company, and has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology, in such contexts as leading the Learning and Career research practice at quality brands like Bersin, as well as the Human Resource Competency Study (University of Michigan) and the RBL Group. That last gig resulted in her co-authoring the book, HR Competencies: Mastery at the Intersection of People and Business, while her great ideas and CLO community observations can be found in high-prestige L&D/CLOp publications such as CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations today. PS: we are working with RedThread on an exciting new project we will announce later this month, but in the meantime, enjoy the episode, stay well--and try take a break, too!

  • How will COVID impact Workplace Learning? One person I thought could definitely answer that in our ongoing ‘Learning Leaders’ thematic season here at Learning Is The New Working is Simon Brown, who in 2019 became the first-ever Chief Learning Officer at focused medicines leader Novartis—and who helped move 60,000 people onto remote working in just a single weekend. With a resume that stretches from co-founding one of the UK's leading eLearning companies, Brightwave, to a senior advisory role at Accenture then leading cross-organizational Learning transformation at a major British bank, Simon joined his current employer in 2013. Since he’s been on the Novartis global HQ leadership team, Simon’s led a number of global Learning initiatives, including enhancing effectiveness of Learning for its global pharma salesforce, creating the cross-divisional Global Development University, running the Novartis-wide Learning Centre of Expertise and Corporate Universities, as well as also defining the strategy for how Novartis can develop deeper digital capability right across the company. He’s also the co-author of a great new book, The Curious Advantage, which he describes as an exploration of curiosity and its central role in the digital age—and how it’s going to be at the heart of the skills required to successfully navigate our digital lives when all futures are uncertain. As you’ll know by now, in ‘Learning Leaders’ we’re looking to work with a range of influencers and practitioners from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, EdTech, and talent leadership disciplines, and I honestly can’t think of anyone that meets that description more than him! In our time together we touch on all this, the book and it supporting podcast (yay!) as well as a snapshot of his current life in Basle with wife, children, their cat and various chickens, as well as his recent minor mountain bike accident—plus: what a day job that means looking after the training needs of 100,000-plus staff looks like; a career path that led from studying Management at college then into Accounting and out, quickly, then the Brightwave experience; how his organization’s mission statement and state of purpose directly informs what he does and maps tightly onto his team’s 5-year Learning delivery strategy; the importance of ‘Curiosity’ in what Novartis is trying to do (and what he learned from other companies trying to do something similar, e.g. Microsoft) and how he came to write a certain Amazon best-selling business book; how Novartis is people getting to 5% of their time Learning—and how that’s an initiative being set right from the top; what the company did (and is still doing) to help beat the novel coronavirus (hint: you can’t research molecules from home…); how quickly digital learning’s been adopted at this multi-national company because of Lockdown, e.g. use of of LinkedIn Learning internally was a thousand hours a week, in March, seven; his first insight into how technology can help with creativity and Learning; and much more.

  • Human capital strategist Sarah McEneaney, Digital Talent Leader at consulting giant PwC US, and who works alongside L&D professionals on a daily basis, joins us on this latest episode of our ‘Learning Leaders’/Season 5 stream of the podcast to talk about everything from why she thinks Improv is something we all should be interested in if you want to Lead and/or Communicate in business to the radically changing role of in-house mentoring at corporations like hers. Sarah is a strong proponent of the power of employee experience as the key to future-proofing organizations at scale, and is passionate about amplifying business potential by combining talent with technology, skills and tools—and permission. Currently Chicago-based, Sarah has also spent time with the in Boston, Ireland, London, New York, Seattle and Sydney, where she also gained private sector experience. She earned a Bachelor of Science from University College Cork, an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and is a CPA in addition to holding an Irish Chartered Accounting designation. On our call, we hear about everything from why she loves living in The Windy City so much, being one of ‘the seven’ Chicagoans who actually like the weather! to: her day job ‘future proofing’ 50,000 of the 200,000-strong global PwC workforce, and how she got to this ‘coolest’ after multiple accounting and business roles right over the world, starting in her native Ireland; her interest in data analytics; the changing talent strategy approach of big consulting firms like hers (and how that’s changing traditional coaching and mentoring styles) and how that maps onto PwC’s multi-year digital transformation strategy; details of the special two-year internal ‘Digital Accelerator’ training program she helps deliver, and how a detailed L&D process supports it; why we need to move away from standardised learning to ‘infinite’ learning; the PwC philosophy of digital transformation as a’cultural change powered by technology;' her advice on how to not get replaced by a robot; her interest and passionate work in not just business, but also, citizen-led innovation and the PwC internal ‘GitHub’ that’s been set up to help first the latter; and much more.

  • The 2020 Covid19 Pandemic might just be the most disruptive event in the last 60 years. It has, amongst many devastating social and personal effects, also propelled us into what seems to be a ‘New Normal’ of work, with a speed and force we could never have imagined three months back. And as we emerge out of Lockdown into Recovery, the worlds of Work and Learning are changing radically—indeed, will arguably never be the same again. In our new COVID-19 mini-Season at ‘Learning Is The New Working,’ ‘From What-If To What Now?’ we’re exploring what that’s looking like on the ground—and this week’s guest, Russell Butler, Founder and CEO of Learning event creators iVentiv is literally thinking and responding in-flight to these issues. After all, industry conventions are so important to our industry, and most L&D teams use some form of convening to practice our ‘trade’—but it’s one that hasn’t worked for everyone for a while. What’s really interesting is that Russell had been disrupting that model for some years… but that COVID and travel bans present an existential threat to even his new way of fostering learning. Listen in to hear about the genuine drama of this possibly terminal crisis and what he’s done to save it, including:

    how he ended up in ‘Silicon Spa:’ a place ‘bang in the middle’ of rural England with a ‘serious gaming’ heritage that he found highly impactful on his own growth as a business professional

    his workspace—an office between the Motor Sport Industry Association and the National Beekeeper Society next to where the Queen retired some of her ceremonial horses; the first ten years of what’s very much a family business, iVentiv, and the evolution of its ‘Learn, Connect and Develop’ mission; what he learned from the first 100-plus iVentiv events; how well his pipeline looked at the start of the 2020… and then how much it changed; the day he had to tell his staff in their brand new offices that the business faced huge challenges, and that none of it was their fault; the pivot/postpone conundrum; a steep learning curve: the start of iVentiv’s virtual and what’s proving to be a surprisingly strong, Zoom-based way back; the usefulness of the self-challenge, ‘What are you doing to keep yourself relevant for us - and not just for us?’; and much more.

  • This week we dialog with a very well-known figure in L&D - and one who’s definitely been applying Science to Learning, so much so that you’ll need to prepare to have quite a few assumptions shaken! That’s in the shape of Mary Slaughter, a human capital executive with 25+ years of global experience and strong C-suite expertise and who, since start of 2020 (and so, immediately pre-Pandemic), has been in post as Managing Director, People Advisory Services at E&Y. There, Mary’s working in the Purpose, Culture, Leadership and Inclusion space, where she is tasked with helping clients better understand behavior change at scale. When she sat down with me from her Atlanta base just before her move, though, she had been for a number of years with an organization everyone in our field serious about finding new ways of thinking about Workplace Learning needs to be aware of — the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI), and which, like her current post, is also very much about using science, technology and data insights to help organizations. Mary and I talk mostly about her work at NLI in our 50-plus minutes, but as a long-standing L&D practitioner as everything from CLO to CHRO, she also naturally adds her own deep perspectives on many trends in our industry. As such, she’s a perfect guest for what we’re trying to do in our on-going Season 3, ‘The Learning Scientist,’ where we are meeting engineers, business leaders, academics, and designers who are drawing on Science and design thinking to better understand the interface between Learning technology and neuroscience — so join us, as we find out about: her personal journey from studying Psychology and Communications to Workplace Learning to ‘a place with a good airport;' NLI, a place all about ‘using science to make organizations more human’ but also change behaviour at scale across those organizations; the shrinking half-life of Knowledge; the many sins we’ve all inadvertently committed in L&D because we didn’t know how the brain works, especially in things like Feedback, Capacity and the process of how we actually *learn*; how we have totally misunderstood why Evolution came up with what we call ‘bias,’ and how to work better with that if you want to do things like implement a D&I agenda; the need to be aware of the lure of ‘neurobling;' the usefulness of the AGES (Attention, Generation, Emotion, Spacing) Learning model… and why the ’S’ will make you wince if you’ve ever crammed too much training in one ‘convenient’ off-site; how much your brain is doing for you and to you, without asking; the danger of getting better at what you do — and the harm confident Leaders can cause! and much more.

  • We are taking a pause this week. A pause for reflection and learning, a pause in recognition of the systemic racial injustice in our societies, our workplaces and our culture, and a pause to mourn at the sickeningly casual taking of lives such as Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, George Floyd Manuel Elis and countless and an uncounted victims of racism everywhere.

    Addressing these badly broken systems is a super important subject for all of us as human beings, and for us in our professional of workplace learning, after all we are charged with helping shape the culture of our organizations and the develop our current and future leaders, leaders support D&I initiatives. It’s a topic worthy of deep investigation and understanding and there are leaders in our profession that we should invite in to our ongoing conversation on this podcast, but not this week.

    This week we pledge our support for the black lives matter organization and others fighting for social justice for all. We share our deepest condolences as parents for everyone who has lost loved ones to senseless violence at the hands of those pledged to protect and serve, or as victims of racism. We’re educators right, our first instinct is to teach and seek to understand but we think at this time it’s best that we cede this tiny space that we are lucky enough to occupy in social discourse, to better let other voices be heard.

    We have listed some podcasts that we love or have been suggested, to us, podcasts that we humbly suggest might be a good use of the rest of this hour, and produced by people way better qualified to help you understand what to do next.

    Thanks. Chris Pirie and The Editorial team at LITNW

    Suggested Podcasts at https://learningisthenewworking.org/season-six/season-6-episode-5/

  • How do you help get a new podcast off the ground? In this new episode of our on-going Learning 4 Good season, we’re working to find out. That’s because we’ve been working with Ugandan-based social investment innovator, entrepreneur, governance, public health and strategic leadership expert Joyce Tamale to do just that! Tune into my conversation with Joyce, a Humanitarian Sector practitioner with over 20 years experience in managing and transforming organisations. Along the way, we hear all about her own personal growth journey across both the public and private sectors and her training in finance, marketing and other business disciplines, which have teed her up perfectly for her latest role: Co-Founder & CEO of Capital Solutions, which is all about inspiring, transforming and building her fellow African-based social entrepreneurs. This is definitely relevant for our on-going mission in the season - to see what corporate L&D can learn from the innovative Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Social Enterprises, and Community Organizations using Learning and ed tech to build trust and capacity for social good. Look to hear, then, about an impressive multidisciplinary set of competences laid in Uganda, Scotland and the US, as well as: the story and mission of Capital Solutions and what she’s trying to achieve with it (as well as the business model that makes that happen); what social entrepreneurship and investment actually means today; an example of how her team’s helped a young business happen: Ugabus; her drive to build capacity and scale up social enterprises in East Africa; her dilemma: that young people are flocking to cities for opportunities that might be easier to grab where they already are; how (spottily distributed) tech’s proving a great way for the Ugandan microbusiness to get the airplay they couldn’t have afforded before; her focus on women’s experience and work to support getting women into leadership positions - and why helping one woman has such a magnifying effect; and much more.