With the rapidly approaching 2020 Learning Awards, we continue this series of the L&D QuestionTime where we hear from this years finalists.

Today we hear from Jono Cathersides shortlisted in the Learning Professional of The Year category.



In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

For me I think the biggest anxiety is the drive to create some defined “learning culture” within an organisation. There seems to be a pervasive view outside of the L&D community that a learning culture is a required measurable metric for success.

This drive for a manicured culture, often is driving the wrong behaviours that are best for the learners and may in fact be creating a negative overall culture. While there is a need at a base level for systems and structures within any organisation, the need for definitive ‘culture’ capture metrics seem to placing the measures and effectiveness of learning in the wrong place. If the thinking goes back from the learner and their need for learning, opportunities to learn and how they indeed define learning, and these are then provided then organically a learning culture would develop. The pressure to definitively document something specific creates unnecessary tension within an organisation.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

Primarily I find I am learning more and more from my audiences. As the shift moves to more learning for younger audiences who have grown up with technology as a given, with access to information, good and bad so readily accessible, and are looking for opportunities to apply learning future focused, this is a fascinating time for learning. The learning experience they want is in some ways extremely different from other generations but for certain things not different at all. And just like the learners, there is so much access to exciting and innovative content and thinking coming from global L&D experts that mining that to find the real nuggets that will benefit my audience and learners really driving some exciting interactions. It’s hard to pick any one thing but exploring Learning organisation market by market give so much insight, some aligned and some miles apart – but that is the exciting thing.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

I know there is a lot of great exploration in VR and digital but I think with all that possible the real excitement for me is the human interaction side. So much is now possible digitally that learners can perform tasks and develop skills without interacting with others, and this in a lot of cases is amazing and provides learning to so many more people than before. For me the innovation lies in how we “connect” when our audiences do come together – what will impact their human interactions to maximise learning impact – the hidden gem of face to face interaction is the innovation I am looking for. The organisations that can truly balance the human with the digital for all their audiences will really bring something innovative to learning – the act of learning is required to innovate so how we do this at an effective tribal level – the work in this space will deliver the innovation I am excited about.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

I don’t think this is necessarily a game changer but I think in the space of ROI for learning a wider understanding of learning and the real benefits it provides to the business and how these are articulated and accepted by businesses. Defining tangible outcomes but also more and more the intangible outcomes good learning experiences can have, especially in driving a sense of purpose and well-being – people want to learn and achieve and this promotes better mental health and a sense of belonging both to the group but also to one’s own self. These, I believe in the near future will be far more valuable metrics to businesses looking to grow and retain people.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

I almost think it is more exciting to find out than predict anything. There is so much change at such speeds that it really could go in so many directions. I think there will be greater equality and access to learning than ever before, opportunities to self-develop and for L&D professionals the task will be to provide the right mix of learning via so many possible mediums – that’s now to be honest – I think this will only get more challenging. But I do think people will want more and more learning and I think they will make more time for it also.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

A student loan is not for buying a boat?? That would have been a handy piece of advice at the time. My initial career wasn’t anywhere near adult learning – my father taught high school for 45 years and I didn’t see myself doing anything with learning and here we are so maybe it would be pay more attention to the things around you – you never know what you might learn.

Connect with Jono on LinkedIn