Welcome to the 1st L&D QuestionTime of 2015.  This week we take a slightly different view point that of an HR perspective.

Tim Scott is Head of People & OD at Brook.  Brook Young People is the UK’s leading provider of sexual health services and advice for young people under 25.


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

I have to say upfront of course that I am an HR generalist – so I am “one step removed” from the daily anxieties of the L&D world. However, particularly through my social media connections, I see a lot of debate around the position of L&D within organisations. Should it be “part of HR” or something separate? How far should the L&D function identify development activities and how much should it react to the organisation’s perceived needs? Of course, there are also the pressures of being cost effective and able to prove the function’s value – whether that is financially or otherwise. I’m not sure these are new anxieties and I think the answers have to be different in every organisation.


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

I’ve already mentioned social media which says a lot about where I get my information from these days. In particular, my involvement in the HR/L&D community on Twitter (where I tweet as @TimScottHR) informs my thinking hugely. There are some truly awesome L&D folk who tweet and blog regularly, forming an incredible resource who don’t just inform but challenge and inspire me too! I also feel that the CIPD is doing a lot of work to develop its offering to the L&D community at the moment which I think is really encouraging.


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

This year I’ve been impressed by how much e-learning has moved on since I last dabbled in it a number of years ago. I’m a great believer that some learning is most appropriately delivered “at the point of use” – I’ve seen this work particularly well with IT skills for example. Having relevant e-learning available at your fingertips while you’re actually carrying out a task can be really empowering, rather than having to “wait for a course” before you can do something, particularly for something fairly functional, like doing a mail merge for example. Saying all of that, I’m not sold on the idea that “mobile” is necessarily the future for e-learning. It feels like a step too far – but I may of course be forced to eat those words in years to come!

I’ve come across some great ideas this year for involving people in designing their own learning and also for group learning. I helped to facilitate part of an unconference this year and it really struck me how much using the “group wisdom” can add to learning rather than just having an “expert” standing at the front imparting information.


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

I think we’d all like to see less PowerPoint and more focus on delivering valuable learning in future! So much of the “training” I still see is built around a massive PowerPoint deck with lots of text in bullet points. I’ve started using Haiku Deck just to get away from the temptation and shake up the way things look when I present anything. However, one of the challenges is that people just expect “Death by PowerPoint” these days – they almost come steeled for it and so when they don’t get it, they can be a bit surprised. There are some really innovative approaches and exciting possibilities for L&D out there – but until we get the basics sorted, they just aren’t going to get adopted.


What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

Predicting the future accurately is always fraught with difficulty – especially when it’s on a subject I don’t really consider myself an expert in! But for me, the increasing availability of what would once have been closely-guarded content is the most interesting indication of where we could be heading. You don’t need to sign up to an expensive, time-consuming, inflexible, chalk-and-talk training course these days. If you’re an enthusiastic learner, you can do a MOOC with Stanford University (or now even the CIPD!), tap into the latest management thinking in a TED talk on YouTube, follow industry leaders on Twitter and download a (potentially free) e-book from one of your favourite gurus at the click of a button. My sense is that people will use these opportunities to take more personal responsibility for their learning and that in-house L&D will become more and more bespoke to the organisation’s specific needs.


What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

I probably wouldn’t offer much advice to him (me) as I expect he probably wouldn’t take that much notice… To be honest I imagine I could learn a thing or two from him in terms of self-belief and “just get stuck in” attitude! Whilst I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done particularly, I think I’d encourage him to seek out some kind of mentor and to develop and make the most of personal networks – at least until Twitter is invented!


As already mentioned you can follow Tim on Twitter @TimScottHR


Next week we hear the opinions of  Con Sotidis – Founder of Ozlearn