In this issue of the ever popular L&D QuestionTime we hear from Toby Kheng.

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

Having come from the world of large corporate organisations and into a startup environment, the difference between the pace of change is astonishing and one I wasn’t quite prepared for. What is even more astonishing, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the size of the company or red tape. It’s more to do with the approach to work. Working in sprints as a team, a willingness to change direction and the ability to create change with conviction has seen us really hone our approach over the past year. The transformation of most Learning and Development teams I see (granted not all) is approached with anxiety and trepidation around change, something that should take less than a year to implement is generally chalked up in a three year plan. Whilst the wider businesses we work in may still have this approach we need to a leaner and more agile to do the right stuff and do it well, whilst continually innovating what we do.

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

For the past few years now I’ve been keen to take how we learn things outside of work and try to apply the same rhythms and routines to workplace learning. I know there is already a lot of talk around this, so I have now focused on understanding the marketing world in more detail. Marketing does it’s work by relying Behavioral Economics and being able to shift a person’s behaviour over longer periods of time, not limiting change to a 40-minute eLearning module or a one day workshop. There are many other things I think we can learn from too, such as influencer marketing and social media advertising that are really informing how I will go about my own development over the next 12 months. Using Workplace to create campaigns and managing online communities effectively is just a few approaches I’ve taken over the past year to test and learn how some of these concepts can be used in Learning and Development.

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

I think the most exciting change in Learning and Development will be in the collective approach to content and it’s delivery, on the whole it still has a fair distance to go to create experiences that matter. As much effort as we put into talking about innovation and using new technologies, we really should be spending a similar amount of effort phasing out the old approaches that no longer have a place as technology evolves. I’m looking at you eLearning.

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

I would like Learning and Development to adopt as much as it can from other departments and industries. There are already experts in creating online communities, being data driven and working in new ways. We shouldn’t seek to create this expertise, we should see what works in the world around us. As already mentioned, marketing departments have a wealth of knowledge and skill, I’ve worked with a few employee insights teams for example that sit in marketing and their approach and data is some of the most valuable people work I’ve ever seen. Aside from marketing, I’ve also worked with commercial teams that put amazing business cases together to inform my own. The support to help the future of Learning and Development is out there.

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

I don’t think it will exist as a function within most companies, the creation of content will phase out towards effective storytelling around the curation of the wealth of content that already exists. For this to be most effective, it will have to come from the people working in the engine of an organisation, not a department. In this instance I see the holy grail of a self led learning culture will actually make the department redundant.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Don’t be afraid of change, seek out the change wherever you can find it. Also, enjoy what little time you have left to enjoy hangover free drinking.

About Toby Kheng:

Toby is  Head of Client Strategy at Freeformers and as the result of his role has been able to broaden his HR, learning and commercial experience by working with multiple businesses to develop innovative and measurable people strategies whilst also building relationships with senior leaders. From the UK’s largest supermarket chain to a global biotechnology company, Toby has helped organisations drive change across the world with employees at all levels. Through a thorough pilot process including A/B testing and a robust approach to correlating engagement, the change in peoples mindset and business metrics we have been able to demonstrate tangible return on investment for each programme.

Working within a fast paced and ever-changing environment, balancing the priorities of Freeformers and each client has stretched and developed my capabilities in business partnering, budgeting, managing people initiatives and leading a team.

Connect with Toby on LinkedIn