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Nigel Paine

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Learning and development in 10 Years’ time


Power up your hoverboard, don your self-adjusting sneakers and hold tight to that almanac. Nigel Paine takes us back to the future of learning.
Terry wakes up. It's 2 November 2021. Her radio news is punctuated with gentle reminders about the shape of her day and the key to-do's. She is not going into her main office; too far, too horrible a journey, so best undertaken only when there is a very good reason for doing so.
But she needs to talk to a couple of people in the virtual meeting room and her home office won't quite cut it. So she's off to her local hub which shares facilities with a whole bunch of companies and is small, local and quite social. She checks email whilst eating breakfast. It is read out to her, she speaks a few replies some of which have to be repeated as her mouth is full. She leaves some instructions and heads out. On the hydrogen bus she flicks out her iPad 8 and reinforces a few bits of knowledge she needs, and briefs herself on a few issues she has to deal with. One of her meetings today is with her coach in China. She wants to impress him but also get some direction and information so she focuses hard for 10 minutes and assembles a last minute note to read before the appointed time. It is amazing what you can do standing up with one hand clutching the hang rail and being lurched from side to side...
"I think that there is a sea change underway as our networked society and our cascading information flow begins to alter the way we think and act."
You cannot separate L&D from the changing workplace. There will be massive changes in work: what it is, how we do it and what it means. L&D will have to change just to keep up. If it wants to stay ahead then the changes will be dramatic.
We have all seen the picture by Voltina of Henricus in front of his students, with the class paying scant attention to the lecture. It pops up in innumerable presentations as an illustration of 'plus ça change..'
For all our fancy ideas the fundamentals remain the same. But I think that there is a sea change underway as our networked society and our cascading information flow begins to alter the way we think and act. So here are some givens and, then a few big changes:
  1. To keep up we will have to learn constantly
  2. Technology will be the key to this
  3. Our skill levels and competency will rise as work evolves
  4. Learning will not be much different from work
  5. How do I..? will be a constant refrain.

So how will learning and development look in 10 years? 

Firstly more integrated - not stuck outside the main stream looking somehow other worldly but as core and key as logistics or finance. Secondly, offering more and more in smaller and smaller pieces. I remember when everything was a three-day programme with two overnights. Then one day, then half a day and now ten minutes online. But with this change comes finely tuned delivery at the moment of need. Open systems will dominate as information will flow in and out of any management system. Far too much to control or block.

What will learning be like? 

In 10 years time, certainly formal material but also blogs, video, articles, web pages, comments, live chat and conversation, coaching, mentoring - the list goes on and on. 

Who will turn that into something sensible and useful? 

The learner of course, in control at a personal learning dashboard, making sense of what he or she needs in real time, every working day. Learning will be everyone's problem, and owned by everyone.

Who will create content? 

Everybody of course. Talking, sharing, posting, engaging will all be part of the same process. Help me... remember, discover or find out will be answered by a human being or a digital assistant. Without that help, things would totally full apart.
So back to Terry. She has now had her three formal meetings, a couple of informal chats online and bumped into a couple of colleagues in the hub. She checks off mentally: 
'work team is in good shape, my communities of practice are fine, and I have added a couple of insights and talked to one of the key individuals, and my external network has come to my rescue again! What would I do without that group.'
Time for lunch. Time to go out as she has a 45-minute space in her diary. Sushi today. Let them try and make that virtual.

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