And that's what gets results...
I was recently talking with a friend of mine who also works in the leadership development space, and he asked me how we had managed to get such great behaviour change results from one of our leadership development programmes. Without much thought, I reeled off a reply explaining how the face-to-face sessions were supported by online learning that we had created, which was new, cutting edge and innovative. His response to me was ‘oh, it’s quite old school then’. This is the point at which I found myself troubled a little…‘old school’? Sorry, did I mention that it’s mostly online learning, with a fantastic storyline taking you on an emotional journey following four characters who are going through huge change? Yes…he used the words ‘old school’. Let me be clear, my friend didn’t mean these words in a negative way, but more from an intrigued perspective. It was what these words meant to me that mattered.
For anyone who knows me, you’ll know why these words had such an impact on me. I am the one who sits in L&D and Employee Engagement conferences muttering in frustration ‘I don’t believe it’. My mission has been to find what works and if it doesn’t exist, to create something that will work - innovative, cutting edge, incorporating psychology, neuroscience and all of that stuff…definitely not old school.
Many of you will know my passion for reflective practice. I decided to take time to reflect on this conversation as I felt troubled by it. Whether you believe in serendipity or not, as I was reflecting on this conversation, I heard the lyrics: ‘It ain’t what you do but the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results’ by Bananarama in the background (you really couldn’t have made it up!). And they were right! Who knew!?
In L&D we are searching for the elusive golden key, to create truly impactful learning. We are now looking at AI as the answer, chatbots, VR and all sorts of clever things – anything shiny and new. But let me ask you a question; think back to the corporate learning that you have undertaken (voluntarily or otherwise) over the last few years. How many of those sessions can you truly say were fantastically engaging and relevant to your work (whether face-to-face or digital)? Those that you remember, probably resulted in you making changes and acting upon the learning and insights. There are probably many where you didn’t. Whatever format we choose, we need to ensure that the learning solution engages our emotions and is relevant to our work. There are learning providers doing a fantastic job in changing behaviours, and they happen to be ‘old school’. There are others who are doing amazing things with technology and are getting brilliant results in behaviour change. The focus in these cases isn’t the ‘old’ or ‘new’ approach, but the way that you do it – it’s inevitably on the learning outcome and how to best engage with learners to make a sustainable impact.
To my friend who caused me to stop and think about this, thank you. Whilst you never meant ‘old school’ in the way I interpreted it, had you not mentioned these two words, I wouldn’t have been able to truly understand how we caused the behavioural change people have reported seeing. To the L&D community, the ‘old’ school vs ‘new’ school shouldn’t be the focus, it’s about getting to the heart of the issue and engaging learners in a way that makes people truly want to make a difference. How do you do what you do, and can this be improved? Because that could get (even better) results!
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