Learning 2015

Learning 2015: Why L&D teams need to play catch-up

Two of QA's business services team, Giles Smith and Jamie Thomas, are attending Learning 2015 in Orlando, a global forum for learning practitioners. Read Jamie's thoughts from day one of the conference.


Jamie Thomas | 2 November 2015

Learning 2015

Learning 2015 | Orlando, FL

So we made it, Mr Smith and Mr Thomas on tour on behalf of QA, boldly going where…well, there are 2,060 other people here so maybe the Star Trek intro will have to wait!

But we did make it, and on Sunday evening I found myself in a conference room listening to Elliot Masie outlining his plans for the next 3 days - not to put us to sleep, but to wake us up. To consider not just what we have to start doing but, just as importantly, what we need to stop. To compare the rituals that we have adopted versus how learners actually learn. Then he said it, the comment that cuts through the fog and gets to the heart of it:

Learners are getting better at learning faster than we are developing how we support them.

And that is why I am here. QA is one of the largest learning services providers in the UK and our role is to understand how learning happens, to understand the challenges that face our clients and to help bridge that gap. Over the next couple of days I will be blogging and Giles (@Gilessmith44) will be tweeting, the aim is to allow those that can’t be here to hear.


Today's learners are navigators

So, let’s get back to the big point: learners are getting better at learning faster than we are developing how we support them. The learner is changing rapidly, L&D teams need to catch up. Learners now have access to more knowledge than at any other time in our history. They no longer need to memorise, they navigate. Navigation is more important than knowledge.

Knowing how learners like to learn provides a huge impetus to refining our services.

Kimo Kippen, the Learning Leader for Hilton, illustrated this beautifully. He was asked how learning is changing and he simply waved his phone. With the disruption of the digital era, and with learners moving faster than L&D, the challenge to L&D teams and suppliers is how to incorporate our services into the technology that our clients use every day.

Now, you may not know this (why would you), but every person sat in the room with me was wearing a Disney Magic Bracelet. What does it do? Everything! In the Orlando resorts the bracelet replaces money, tickets and even room keys. They are great - as a guest you never need to carry a wallet, you will never lose your key and…oh, you don’t really track what you spend! It is rumoured that Disney spent $1billion rolling out the bracelets, but I imagine they recouped that in a matter of days through the extra average guest spend. Coupled with the benefits of being able to track every single guest at every moment during their stay, one thing is clear - the impact of cloud and big data is changing businesses.

Kimo mentioned that Hilton are rolling out their own version of digital key: an app on your phone that allows you to book a date, select your preferred room and then access it…without ever having to talk to a person (unless you want to)! It could be a game changer for Hilton, but it will definitely change the way his people need to interface with the guests - a new skill, a new learning need.

What is Kimo’s biggest concern?

97 countries, 330k employees and a new hotel opened every 1.7 days…what worries him? Succession planning and knowing that they have the talent to progress the business. Kimo started as a bus boy and now runs their learning. With the pace of change in his organisation, learning needs to be embedded and owned by his business.

The most difficult part of being a CLO?

Saying no. Focusing only on what is important to the business and forgetting the rest. His role is not to be a policeman, but to be a facilitator.

And how to be successful?

Be a great business partner, a great consultant. Tell the story - learning leads to great performance. Right solution, right price point, right format, right audience, right time.

Where are we headed in the world of learning?

Learning is now so much more informal. We need to learn how to take advantage of that, to codify and make sense of it. Learning is very personal.

And finally, this conference is being dedicated to Rosie the Riveter, one of the key initiators of on-the-job learning. Don’t know who Rosie is? Well, as mentioned earlier, the learners of today are navigators...so be a modern learner and look her up.


More information

Most people know that QA provides courses, but we also run some of the UK's largest Managed Learning Services where our team of learning consultants help clients think through the practical application of learning.

Feel free to email me for more information: jamie.thomas@qa.com


Related blogs

Learning 2015: Why senior backing is critical to L&D success

Learning 2015: How technology and big data are changing L&D

Learning 2015: 12 behaviours of a 'Jerk Manager'


QA Training | Jamie Thomas

Jamie Thomas

Business Services Account Director

As Account Director for our Business Services vertical, Jamie is tasked with working with QA’s largest clients, helping them deliver effective learning services which have a demonstrable impact on their organisation's capability.
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