Why, when we all exchange the same information do we expect to learn?

Here's a challenge . . . I've noticed that L&D folk Tweet L&D stuff, blog L&D stuff and exchange information almost exclusively about L&D stuff.  Given that observation, how on earth are we to expect to understand the wider world and be taken seriously outside of our own L&D 'bubble'?

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Hi Jonathan,

It sounds like you're saying that we should be sharing about what our organisations do (assuming they're output isn't just training/learning stuff)?

So, if you work in the oil industry, that's what you should be sharing. And similarly for other industries.

It makes a lot of sense. It would be an interesting conversation to have with Marketing - as you'll start stepping on their toes very soon.


Hi Mark,

I wasn't suggesting we talk about what our organisations are doing per se. It was more of a challenge to us all to look outslde of our own 'bubble' at what's going on in the world around us to discover new ideas that we can make use of. For example, many L&D people complain of not having enough money; so why not talk to charities to see what we can learn about raising money, or talk to advertising companies to find out how best to pitch a product.

I guess what I am seeing is an almost constant inward-looking sector which seems only too keen to go in ever decreasing circles regarding Kirkpatrick, learning design and learning styles (just to name three), rather than reaching outside for new solutions.

Hi Jonathan,

I think this is because our world (L&D) is based on giving of what we know, and not on asking questions. Sometimes you need to force those sort of cross-fertilizing situations. Our natural inclination is to stay in our comfort zone.

Exactly Mark! We need to promote the idea of an L&D polymath; someone who has a grasp of so much more than just 'doing learning'

Quite a challenge I know, but one I feel should be tackled.

How about this for an idea...

Instead of horizontal, functionally based conferences on IT, Marketing, L&D etc, shouldn't we be promoting cross-cutting conferences that focus on business problems?

Certainly taking a wider team to focus on business problems is one way to go, and indeed not new. It's been said that (given certain circumstances) 10 people from cognitively diverse backgrounds will achieve a better outcome than 10 experts.

Honda has changed the way it develops vehicles to take account of this benefit, though this is a slightly different track to where I started. . .

To reiterate; L&D people MUST get out of their 'bubble' and learn more about the world around them. At a recent conference I asked how many people had a good grasp of their own organisation's strategy. Only two people raised their hands. Insular indeed!

Take a look at what backgrounds McKinsey consultants now have and you'll understand what I mean.

I'd agree with you, Jonathan, but I really don't think that management consultants are necessarily worth being held up as exemplars. My experience is that they're more style over substance. Lots of impressive sounding claims that aren't backed up by research or evidence.

Back to your main point, though, I think that this is a symptom to be found throughout organisational functions. Marketing people focus on marketing stuff, finance people focus on finance stuff, It people on IT stuff - you get the idea. There's too many bubbles and not enough cross-fertilisation of ideas and abilities.

Love the idea of cross-functional conferences, Mark! I think there's been some examples of this where social media has been the focus since it's use is of interest those working in marketing, communications, IT, learning and other areas.
The point I was making Owen is that McKinsey employs consultants that are 'out of the box.' and they totally GET the cross-functional issues we have spoken about. AND they are totally linked with deep, detailed research and insights. I do agree however that many valilla-flavoured consultants speak some kind of mumbo-jumbo and deliver very little in terms of lasting value.

The key point I was trying to make is that L&D people are on the whole very insular and need to look beyond their perceived horizons. More importantly, they need to 'get' business and understand the key drivers, for without that, they cannot ever be effective.

Depends on what your motivation for tweeting is in the first place, Jonathan, and who you follow and who your followers are. I'm far more enthused and connected via Twitter than I have ever been on Facebook and, indeed, use the two for different purposes and networking. I don't always have something to say about L&D, and have enjoyed other Twits' tweets on other subjects as well. But then, I'm also using the L&SG, IITT LearningProfessionalNetwork and LinkedIn and have joined some of those up via Twitter. Big benefit is being able to be part of, learn from and contribute to events which I cannot attend, due to time, distance, work (yes, the day job!) and/or finance.
I agree about the watching and following Gavin. But here is the truth; how many L&D people have business degrees or have honestly worked at the sharp edge of business?

In my 25 years of experience, many L&D people tend to quote current trends and very few really, and I mean really, focus on the business, or indeed look beyond the L&D function for solutions.

Your point about following training and L&D Tweets, blogs etc. Is key to my arguement. I'm looking to see people who operate well beyond the standard boundaries and seek knowledge and applications in areas other then their own.

Overall, we are a very insular industry. We talk about what we know, but do we REALLY seek knowledge and application outside of out own paradigms?

And there is the challenge!


Hi Jonathan,

Back in the early 1990s PWC produced a range of laser disc based courses on business areas - Finance, Marketing, Operations and Business Strategy which were for those within the firm that did not do these roles. This was so that they understood how these units worked and how what they did affected other parts of the business. Are you suggesting that L&D 'look across the fence' at what other business units are doing enabling them to create learning that will assist these other units to do their jobs better? Only looking outwards to the wider world and not just within our own companies.

If so then I agree that we should do this both within our own companies and elsewhere so that we understand better the red lines and pressure points that our colleagues have to contend with. However, thinking about my own firm of accountants, this should involve more than just L&D. Shouldn't every profession 'look across the fence' at what other professionals do to make us all more knowledgeable and relevant in what we do? Unfortunately the sceptic in me is saying that this would inevitably be something that would be put off until I had more time which means never.
Hi Vaughan,

I'm not suggesting that this is necessarily a formal or planned activity, but L&D people MUST understand the wider world. At a recent conference I asked how many people read business magazines outside the world of L&D - three people raised their hands.

What I am suggesting is that within L&D we need to understand our own business and the business world better. I'm not suggesting that Marketing have to understand L&D at the moment; it's for L&D to understand the business and how they can make a difference to it.

To be honest, it's as simple as taking out a subscription with Wired, the Economist or Harvard Business Review and reading the Financial Times as well as IT Training. It's not the complete answer but it'll be a heck of a good start for many.




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