Avinash is Group Learning and Development Director at the MCI Group & is a passionate learning and development professional focused on helping others be successful. The ongoing pursuit of building a high impact learning organisation remains top of mind; enabling talented staff to maximise all learning opportunities available: formal and informal; online, face to face, socially or on the job.
In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?
‘Isolation’ from the business instead of ‘inclusion and integration.’ And one main contributing factor is measurement and the ability to communicate results tailored to each stakeholder group enabling them to associate results in a meaningful way to what’s important for them. Quantifying the impact and overall effectiveness of L&D has a direct correlation to the perceived value of the L&D function in the minds of key stakeholders – from the learner’s perspective all the way up to the C-Suite. And let’s not forget the value of L&D as perceived by clients and prospects of the business. If value can be effectively communicated, L&D remains a key differentiator against competition and a reason to work with the company – if they know the company they’re doing business with, has the most skilled and knowledgeable workforce to deliver on the expected objectives. This cannot be achieved if measurement (qualitative and quantitative data) is not captured, assessed and translated into the impact on skills development, behavioral change, improved client performance and on the business’s bottom line.
While this anxiety is not new in our profession, I believe it will remain top of mind for some years to come. L&D continues to re-shape and adapt to the changing landscape influenced by new technologies and concepts such as m-learning, social learning and the on-going support for the 70-20-10 model. The proof that new developments and adoption of new concepts are paying off will be critical to ensure future investment and support; not just leadership buy-in but increasing leadership’s engagement as active drivers of L&D rather than passive by-standers.
Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?
I keep track of various media, experts and sources that are familiar to most including Bersin by Deloitte, Elliott Massie’s blog/trends, a variety of LinkedIn groups and the like. Twitter provides a rich source of quirky as well as insightful experts sharing a wealth and diversity of content that feeds into my every day and future thinking. What I also find stimulating (and needed) is to widen my perspective beyond the L&D lens by staying on top of general business and management thinking, trends, concepts etc. Futurists and tech visionaries such as Gerd Leonhard and Peter Hinssen have also caught my attention in the past couple of years. As for the present, very happy to be engaged with LPI, CLO Connect members and interacting with wise professionals such as Nigel Paine. All great sources of inspiration and knowledge exchange.
What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?
I’m intrigued by the potential of xAPI technology (Tin Can.) It hasn’t (yet) taken a foothold in our space as initially predicted but I believe the potential to maximize its value still remains high. With the focus on creating ‘holistic’ learning ecosystems which embrace formal and informal learning, online/offline (and the learner taking a central role) tracking progress, experience and activity from all these sources will be a necessity. This is where xAPI will become indispensable.
What we then do with the ‘big learner data’ that’s gathered is where the beauty lies. I see it as the glue between multiple learner activity to help shape and create ‘relevant’ learning opportunities based on the learner’s habits, behaviours and needs. Think ‘Amazon’ and ‘Netflix’ in terms of ‘you watched this, so you may like this. .’ The importance of this innovation is not the tracking but in analyzing, synthesizing and leveraging data which can lead to the creation of even more powerful learning opportunities for the learner. For the L&D function, it could help prioritize and focus resources in areas that have greatest impact. For the business, realization that learning is far more targeted, relevant and more likely to have impact on performance.
What “game changers” would you like to see and why?
Learning and development embracing the significance and value that knowledge management (KM) brings to our profession. It complements everything that we do yet is often disconnected from our world; either not recognized or managed with little to no direct and meaningful association with the L&D function.
Currently in our organization, we have connected the dots starting with building a combined Learning and Knowledge platform where formal learning intersects head on with knowledge assets. This approach provided learners a seamless, one stop connection to capture formal learning with knowledge that either supports overall learning needs or where knowledge exchange and engagement with peers is just as powerful as a means of development with or without the component of formal learning. Development and performance management should no longer be seen as only influenced by formal learning but be seen to embrace non-traditional means such as KM. Such a paradigm shift (and if embraced by leadership) will serve to (naturally) accelerate the integration of the 70-20-10 framework and ‘force’ L&D professionals to think beyond traditional learning methodologies that have been entrenched for decades.
Promoting the virtues of a marriage between L&D and KM is also a step toward for L&D being seen as ‘front-office’ rather than back office with knowledge being curated around ‘Centers of Excellence’ that can accelerate business growth, improve efficiency, support innovation and much more.
What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?
I believe the future will be about content proximity for the learner fed by powerful technology – especially mobile which in turn, will fuel the online social learning space. A transformation from pushing content and focusing on ‘activity’ to creating powerful, curated learning ecosystems which enable the learner to get what they need, when they need (just-in time) and in whichever manner that makes sense to them as an adult learner. I wish to see acceleration towards environments that increase learner ‘ownership’ and empowerment meaning more self-directed, anytime, any-device, any pace learning. As for the influence on the traditional learning function – maybe a greater shift from organizers of ‘activity’ to content curators, producers and catalysts in creating a holistic learning environment.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
Be curious. Take ‘calculated’ risks. Be adventurous, be entrepreneurial. Don’t think you know it all – there’s so much more to come. Be patient. Read more. Follow your passion. Live in the moment. Understand yourself better – recognize strengths and work on a path to leverage them. As a person, focus on being more interested rather than being more interesting. Discover and unlock a purpose. Never forget to stop for a moment and reflect on all that’s great in the world. Life’s not a dress rehearsal – it’s for real – go for it!
Why not follow Avinash on twitter @avo_globalnomad