Transcript: Transforming Learning & Development with David James

Lucinda Carney:  So, hello, there, and welcome to this week’s HR Uprising Podcast. This is Lucinda Carney, your Host. I’m really excited, because today I’ve got one of my friends, I guess, we can call each other. We met relatively recently. But we’re in a similar area. I’m really pleased that I’ve got David James here, who’s going to give me the benefits of your experience, your insight, and challenge in thinking, I think.

                            So, just to introduce for those of you who may not know who David James is. He’s actually the Chief Learning Officer at Looop. I don’t know, if you’ve heard of Looop. But Looop is a learning experience platform. I might as well record what that is later, David.

                            Prior to that, you’ve had a very interesting background. We’ve got some similarities, actually our backgrounds, haven’t we? We’re both in learning and development. But he was Director of Learning, Talent and O.D. at Walt Disney.

                            So, I guess, that means you know what O.D. means, because I put that out in my LinkedIn recently, and people didn’t know what it was, including people who had it in their job title. And before that, at Lehman Brothers. So, you’ve been through L&D. And we’ll explore more about that, because I’m sure it will be interesting for our listeners.

                            So, welcome. Thanks for being here.

David James:       Thank you.

Lucinda Carney:  First of all, then, one of the things that appeals to me about your insight. I can see that there’s some really great challenges. And actually, instigating some really great debates on LinkedIn, is that, you seem to be thinking differently about learning and development.

                            So, I think you’re challenging the thinking of a lot of us as L&D professionals. What would you say your story is? Or, what is it your point about L&D? What were we doing wrong?

David James:       So, I think that there’s some stuff, I think that has changed, not just in learning and development, but in the wider environment, business and society. That means that we have to revolve. I’m not saying that we need to throw the baby out of the bath water.

                            But I think that businesses move significantly enough for us to have to shift ourselves. What I mean by that, is that, it is no longer enough to run a suite of training programmes and have a suite of online learning, and think that that’s caring for what the organisation needs. I know that learning, in fact, has was always been more than that. But that seems to me to have always been the core.

                            But both expectations from employees and from stakeholders, plus the ability of technology, allows us now to get closer to the point of work to help people when they really need help, not when we can provide support for them. So, when the course is available, or when it’s schedule, and it’s their turn, or when the Line Managers are allowed, is just not good enough. We need to be supporting people as they move into and through our organisation, when they’re facing situations, unfamiliar situations, and challenges for the first time, when they’re looking to make transitions.

                            Those are all opportunities for learning and development, that we haven’t grasped hold of to this point. And what I’m talking about and challenging learning and development to do a lot with my post, is, to expect more, both from themselves and their vendors.

Lucinda Carney:  So, you’re saying that it’s more user-driven. It’s about rather than being L&D sort of catalogue, portfolio, public courses, what we think you need, is, about being more driven by what the actual use and needs in the moment? That’s what we should be doing.

David James:       Yeah. Exactly.

Lucinda Carney:  But I mean, how do we do that? Because that’s really hard to know what people need. How could I do that, if I was in L&D role at the moment?

David James:       So, first of all, it’s about letting go of the old programmatic approach, and thinking about what we can do with the resources available to us. And start thinking about what the ideal situation should be.

                            Now, you’ve hit the nail on the head, talking about this is a user-centred approach. When we think about what, how people are trying to do, so helping them in service of their goals. Those being micro-goals, whether there be macro-goals, whether those be task and team driven, or whether they be career driven. Understanding what people are trying to do, and then supporting them when we can anticipate as close to the point of need as it’s absolutely possible.

                            So, first of all, it starts with solving real problems. Now, that language can sound contentious, because it does assume that learning and development might not be solving real problems. But I think a lot of the time, L&D solve the problems, their own problems rather than the problems of the user.

                            An example of that, is, we don’t have conflict management course. Well, let’s create a conflict management course. You know, it’s not really solving a problem for the user. It’s solving a problem for learning and development.

                            Let’s get a system that houses all of our content, and helps to track users, and also, helps us with the face-to-face administration. Again, it doesn’t help with the end user. It all driven for solving the problems of learning and development as is e-learning a lot of the time solving the problem of reach and scale, and value, but not on efficacy.

                            So, what we’re saying, what I’m saying a lot of the time, is, let’s understand what our users are trying to do. Let’s understand the points of failure in our organisation. Solve the real problems that are priorities for both of those in the most efficient way possible, but benchmark ourselves and measure ourselves on achieving those goals, rather than the provision of content and engagement.

Lucinda Carney:  So, that’s quite consistent with the emphasis I talked in previous podcast about an evidence-based approach

                            So, the battery has died on the cassette tape. This is my interview with David James. So, we’re just going to go back to, I was going to ask the question. What was it I say?

David James:       So, you were asking…

Lucinda Carney:  Is it like evidence-based?

David James:       Yeah, evidence-based, yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  Okay, good. We’ll start in a minute. (Clap)

                            So, I guess, that actually on previous podcast, we’ve talked quite a lot about trying to be more evidence-based as professionals, if we’re going to be taken seriously, and we’re going to make a real difference. So, that’s kind of what you’re talking about. There isn’t a gathering evidence to, and then also, proving, if you like. Because that’s one of the hardest things in learning environment. If you’ll remember, Kirkpatrick in Happy Sheets. Are you saying that you can, is there a better way of gathering evidence of adding value through this approach?

David James:       Yeah. So, it’s about responding to business data. So, let’s consider that every organisation has induction. And a lot of induction is run, because we know it’s the right thing to do. But not a lot of us will ask, whether what we do, is, it making the difference that we hope it would. It’s about putting something in.

                            Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some organisations who have a technical skills element within it. I’ve worked in banking, where we held people for 3 weeks. Held people, I sound like a Prison Office. We held the people the training room for 3 weeks until they’ve had seen how to use the system, and then they’re proficient with calls.

                            But then at Disney, we would have people for the first hour or so of their time to make sure they had a consistent experience. They’d have coffees. They would meet other new starters. They’re not unusual to a lot of organisations. They would have an enormous amount of information throw at them.  

Lucinda Carney:  Throw stuff.

David James:       Yeah, exactly. And it’s for the sake…

Lucinda Carney:  With PowerPoint.

David James:       Yeah, for the case of consistency rather than solving any real problems. But when you take a step back and ask, why are we doing this? A lot of the time, there might be a level of preparation. And if so, what are we preparing people for? This might be for sustained engagement for the short-term so that we maintain some excitement within people.

                            But is it just for the morning that we’ve got them, or are we looking to achieve something longer term? And if so, how long? Do we want to check to see, whether engagement is, either sustained, or increased over a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month period.

Lucinda Carney:  Engagement with learning.

David James:       No, no, engagement like as in with the company, yeah. As in with their team or their company.

Lucinda Carney:  So, that will be a metric that you’ll look for evidence.

David James:       Exactly.

Lucinda Carney:  Value add.

David James:       But we start with what are we trying to achieve, and then you actually, either find the data, or you begin collecting the data at that point. You might be looking to address retention, churn, or speed to competency. There are valid reasons why you would engage in induction.

                            But before you start with your 50 to 100 slides, keeping people captive for an hour, 2 hours, half a day, a day for as long as you’ve got, start with why you’re doing this in the first place, and move beyond. Well, it’s the right thing to do.

                            Because, if you can start from an evidence-based, then you can make sure that every action that you take, every improvement that you make, is actually, impacting on the people who you’re doing this for predominantly, which are, the people coming through the door, and their line management, the team that they’re joining.

                            Another one is new managers. And the reason I bring these two up nearly in all of my examples, are, this is what everybody comes knocking on our door for, right. We’ve got to overhaul induction. Or we need to do something that works for new managers.

                            So, with new managers, a lot of the time, these are the great neglected population in any organisation. They’re promoted. And they’re promised development. That development will come weeks, months, or years after they begin in the job.

                            It’s no secret. I think it’s well publicised that technical people promoted into managerial roles are pretty much have got a career change in front of them. And yeah, they might be given some e-learning, but come on, let’s, let’s, lets…

Lucinda Carney:  It’s one of my oh, like I said, you know, they don’t have the people doing quite often. The best engineer is not the best engineering team leader. So, there’s something there about, whether we should do that in the place, or that it’s even worse, if we don’t develop them. You have to hang them out to dry, really.

David James:       Exactly.

Lucinda Carney:  To give them opportunity to deliver.

David James:       But let’s assess the risk. Let’s assess the opportunity. What data have we got on this. Again, if what we do, is, we based on a hunch and limited observation, we recognised that we need to take the leaders away for 2 days. Again, we’re measuring this in time away…

Lucinda Carney:  Time away job, yeah.

David James:       Rather than the…

Lucinda Carney:  Cost to value.

David James:       Yeah, exactly, rather than the efficacy, and addressing real risks. I always say that you’ve got your least experienced population, your new managers promoted into the role, looking after your largest population. Now, tell me that’s not a risk.

                            So, when you’re delivering your training, you’re one and done experience to these people who have been muddling through, and finding their own ways for all of that time. We’re trying to repair something. And a lot of the time, we’re trying to share models and theories, as well as some conversation about stuff that might be contextually relevant. But it’s largely theoretical onto people who we don’t understand their working environment.

                            If we could take a step back and understand the data, understand what they are trying to do, address the friction that they’re experiencing as they come on to these roles, that we can guide and support them through the most turbulent times, the most unfamiliar times that they will face within that role. That has got to be more worthwhile than any investment in an immerse of experience that is so far away from the point of need. It might as well be on a different planet.

Lucinda Carney:  So, taking your point there, I’m a Learning and Development Officer in a business, and I’ve been asked to sort out new manager induction or management induction. Probably, he’s okay. He’s either gone on then a training needs, and maybe, had a conversation with those people and said, what is that you need to know, or make them stakeholders, what is it that we think they need to know? What would be different, if I was going to be more evidence-based? What would I actually physically be doing differently to get that better results?

David James:       So, first of all, let’s have a look to see what the extent of these risks. So, have a look at the people data to find out how many people had been promoted within the organisation. How many people you’re bringing in? And have a look, isolate what you’re actually dealing with.

                            If you can go to those people to find out, and their managers to find out, what actually happened here. If you’ve got HR analytics, and you’ve got people analytics, you’re going to see the correlation between promotion, correlation of relationships, of tasks, and you’re going to get an output, regardless. I mean that’s much more sophisticated.

                            But all I’ll tell you, be a detective first of all. A lot of the time to your point, if you’ve got a learning analysis, you’ve got rather than a detective, you’ve got an artist like, who wants to go around and find out what they would like delivered to them. You know, sort of pull together this work so that it can be delivered to group like, Cove Galas. It’s a collection of topics. What I’m saying, is, let’s take this down to specifics.

                            So, if we can then gather once we’ve got some business information. Collect recent new starters to find out what it was they were trying to do when they first got into the role. So, let’s start with the goal. If we could find out what they’re trying to do. And I bet a lot of this is down to survival. You’re being promoted. There is something around.

                            On a Friday, they left the job with our technical expert. They were the person that people went to, when they had problems. Monday, they turned up like, a fish out of water, like, a fish up the tree. And they were worried that they would lose all currency. They would lose all credibility. They didn’t know what to do next. And they were worried about not being able to answer the questions of this new team in front of them. There is an enormous amount of anxiety.

                            But, if we can find out what people are trying to do within the short term of that role, and they understand the friction that they experience. So, what was stopping you from achieving that? Once we’ve got their question situations and challenges that they face, we can address those specifically. Then what we can do, is, find the most appropriate way of getting that information know-how, and insights into them, when they need it to guide and support them towards more confident and competent doing.

Lucinda Carney:  I’m liking your analogies here, actually. So, I’ve even thinking. I’ve got this vision now of this. Again, maybe, how we develop ourselves as L&D people, right. So, very well we provided to other people. But how do we develop ourselves?

                            And so, what I’m hearing, is that, you said, rather than being an artist, then maybe more people who are artists so drawn into the profession. It’s about creating a nice solution. You’re saying that we actually need to have multiple hats or roles.

                            So, also, it has to be detectives so you’re being able to sniff out the data, sniff out the inconsistencies, the things, which perhaps don’t stack up or are reckoned. Also, we need to be scientists. So, we need to be able to stand back, be objective. Look at the data. Look for patterns in it.

                            Then I haven’t got the analogy for this. But it’s something about the goals. So, it’s about sort of aspiring future, visionary almost, to be able to see what we’re trying to achieve and draw a line between these, the data and the solution.

David James:       Yeah, I think those are great analogies. Andrew Jacobs who is, what’s his role, he is Head of L&D Transformation Her Majesty Revenue and Customs here in he UK. He likens the role of L&D now to what it should be as shopkeeper to engineer.

                            So, the shopkeeper stocks what people want to buy. So, it’s like any corner shop, really. You will only stock the shelves with what you know sells, because there’s limited margin on there. And you will recognise the success of your store by fruitful. So, how many people come in, and stuff that’s taken off the shelves, and repeat customers. So, it’s all about happy customers in the end.

                            An engineer looks at how things work, not just from an individual and a team perspective, but from a system perspective. They’ll recognise where there are points of failures. They’ll run experiments to move the needle, on where things are to where they need to be. But they’ll also work with the main actors themselves.

                            Go back to your point earlier about training need analysis. What I think one of the might be bugbears and a point of failure for us, is, when we go to people who are so far removed from the roles, to ask what those people down there should be trained on.

                            I always say, it’s like going to the doctors and say, hello, doctor, I’ve got a friend, Lucinda, she needs an operation. She’s been walking funny. I think she probably needs her leg taken off. And the doctor then said, oh, wonderful, we’ve got a leg taking off workshop going on next week. Could she make it Wednesday?

                            And then the first thing you do when you first turn up, is, you then ask, so, tell us what your hopes are for this operation? So, you know like, so, you turn to a training course. So, that’s what your hopes are for this course. Most people there going, look, I was told to come on a course. So, what…

Lucinda Carney:  Yeah, I really don’t want my leg taken off, thank you.

David James:       Yeah. I was at task with a presentation 4 months ago. I was told it didn’t go so well. So, I would sit on this course. I’ve done 4 or 5 presentations since. I think they’ve been getting better. But as a knee-jerk reaction, I was sent on this course.

Lucinda Carney:  You hate that “I was sent” that sort of thing.

David James:       Yeah, exactly. But when you think about an engineer, and you take a look, and you find out what exactly are these points of failure. So, if we recognise that in an employee’s life cycle. Once they’re familiar with the surroundings, once they are happy with the cultural norms, once they’ve got an idea of some of the fundamentals of communication and influence, they get to a level, where they need to pitch or present, either internally, or to customers. Again, which are very different types of presentation.

                            But imagine picking people up and guiding them, when it’s anticipated that they’ll need this for the first time, rather than waiting for them to fail, for somebody else to diagnose that there’s a problem for “a solution” to be delivered several months after the challenges that they faced, or several months before they’re expected to do this again. It just doesn’t make sense.

                            We have the tools today to help people at their moments of need, and anticipate those, and then measure them based on the efficacy. So, to what extent that we help to achieve their desired goals, when they needed it?

Lucinda Carney:  So, okay, I’m actually some of the things I think, really resonated there with me, which I also really like the concept. I think, in fact my days, managing learning needs and training needs. There is a massive time lag. There’s often you didn’t get the data in time.

                            So, you’re saying also it’s about being able to make it user driven and real time. So, give me the learning that I want, when I want it.

David James:       Yep.

Lucinda Carney:  Is that what you want when you’re on the system or something. Show me how to use that now.

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  So, never used to want to go and look things up. I want someone to tell me the answer when I want the answer. But I don’t want any extreme information. I just want the information I need, to do whatever it is I’m trying to achieve.

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  And I supposed, say, from us as appointed figure learning professional, of course, well, we’re not sitting there with the answers ready for everybody. This is something that you’re saying we address through technology. What are the sorts of…? Well, in fact, that’s actually quite a good thing for you to explain to me what a learning experience platform is. Because I’m taking it’s not all the same as a learning management system. It doesn’t host e-learning. Do you want to tell me what is that?

David James:       Yeah, but let me start with the first point there. I’m not one. When I bang in this drum, I might sound like a digital versus face-to-face person, and I’m really not. I believe, if we can find out what the real problems are, that need to be solved, then we must find the most appropriate way to help solve those.

                            There’s a little bit of content involved. There is a great deal of experience and connections involved. There is effort and results involved as well. So, you might start a journey with content. You might then connect. Of course, you can’t then get results in isolation a lot of time, you’ve got to connect with people.

                            So, how can you inspire, guide and support people to communicate and influence people around them in order to get the results, rather than creating simply immersive of one who’ve done it, experiences, where you’ve got a catalogue of learning these, that you kind of group together.

                            You have a look at time management, for example, I think. Oh yeah, what does time management mean? Oh, it’s probably the urgent important quadrant. There’s a little bit of managing your BAU, your business as usual with projects. There’s probably…

Lucinda Carney:  Inbox management.

David James:       Inbox management, all of this stuff.

Lucinda Carney:  Inductions, yeah.

David James:       So, as a learning professional, I make all of these assumptions. And everybody comes through the door, is likely, with all this stuff I’m spraying, they’ll take. As we’ve said, at the end of the courses, if you take one thing away from this course, it’s been worthwhile. We just spray this stuff at people.

                            But, if what we do, is, we can understand what it is that people can’t do within a level of maturity, within a particular role, then we can do a perfect mix of content, digital content, or nudges to say to people, hey, look, you’re likely to experiencing this, if you’re not experience it already. Here’s some useful stuff to get you going. By the way, there’s a 90-minute workshop, where you might come along and talk to people who have a similar challenge, and then you might talk about what that means in the context of this organisation. Or, hey, come and have a go.

                            So, it’s kind of like an action learning set around groups of people. But when it’s not around the assumption or aggregation of common needs, and then a common stand of delivery, you can get down to the nuts and bolts, and really help people in the context of the job.

                            Because I mean, after all in the world we live in today, we don’t need a lot of contents, contents on Google. If you want to know how to create presentation, go on YouTube. Go and Google it. You’ll get some good enough tips to help. But what Google and YouTube can’t help you with, is, what is expected and rewarded at this organisation. And that is absolutely critical to the success of anybody. Not just come in to the organisation, but working their way through. It’s about the expected and rewarded behaviours.

                            That’s where the learning experience platform comes in. Because it’s different from learning management system, the traditional LMS is built from the back forward. It does what it says, you manage learners, and you administrate. It’s what it is.

                            So, from a learning management system, you can host your face-to-face events. Have people book on. It connects with your financial system so that you can charge people for attending. You can’t get your communications out. and it shows you who’s hitting your e-learning content.

                            So, it built from the back, and then you’ve got a facial on the front most of the time. It’s hideous. And it looks like it was created in 1990s, because it’s an after-thought. So, because the real engine lies at the back.

                            The learning experience platform is built the other way around. It recognises that, if you can’t engage people, and I don’t mean just with a pretty face shut, but with stuff that’s actually useful, and it’s going to help forward in the context of their job, then you’ve got nothing. You can’t influence people, if you can’t get them through the door.

                            So, a learning experience platform can be designed, because it’s still a wide market that hasn’t been fully defined. But if I can tell you about the stuff that I’m familiar with, that you can, I mean it’s a platform of itself. So, it can be a house for content. But it can also reach out, and get to people, where they are. It can integrate with the productivity tools that they might be working with, whether that’s simply through email, whether that’s through browsers, or through collaboration platforms, such as Slack and Teams so that they can get notifications as and when determined by an administrator, or in a particular workflow.

                            But the whole thing, is, you can provide content and search for when people know what they need. The vast majority of people who are open to development, what they don’t know, they need, you can get that stuff to them in an automated workflow so that L&D can sit back and watch the data as people responds to, hey, you might need this now, or your colleagues at this time said that this would be helpful.

                            So, it’s about servicing the stuff that is anticipative to be valuable to them, in service of what they’re trying to achieve.

Lucinda Carney:  That’s push and pull.

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  Total coordination, collaborative. And I guess, when you get that information in there, obviously, the data got to get in there in the first place. There is a piece of work, where you’ve had to do the analysis with the L&D people be building up these contents by analysing or talking to people who’ve been new managers previously, and what their problems were. How do you get that learning in there for people?

David James:       Well, the fastest, most efficient way, is definitely, talk to people. Talk to the target audience that you’re looking to influence to find out what the friction, is that, they’re experiencing. That is true learning in the flow of work. They don’t have to stop work to learn. They are in the context of their role, and the stuff that’s being that surfaced, is in service of what they’re trying to do.

                            So, it is like us. We are now honed to go to Google. But imagine Google said to us, hey, you’ve got a meeting coming. You’ve got a one-to-one coming up. And the last time you had a one-to-one with this person, it went a little bit sideways. You know, this might help you with that. And you imagine, you had that…

Lucinda Carney:  So, it’s predictive.

David James:       Yeah, so, you’ve got something there that’s acting almost like an expert mentor, who is always just there saying, hey, you might need this. And of course, once you’ve got that, it’s all about then acting with more confidence and competence, in service of what you’re trying to achieve.

                            Going back to your point, the fastest most efficient way, is, speak to people who’ve recently been through the pain. If you can understand from them, what they were trying to do, and what was getting in the way, then you can build up a solution in no time at all. We always advocate a minimum valuable solution. What is the minimum you can do, to put in the hands of the users that can help move the needle.

                            Because then you know, to do a little bit more of this and a little bit less of that, rather than what a lot of the learning and development functions do, is, buy a big system, fill it for the content. Launch it on a population, and spend the rest of your time in that organisation, trying to drive traffic. It’s absolute opposite.

                            But it’s not all about starting with a whitewall. Sometimes, we know that learning and development had some idea of what’s required. So, you can actually put some content in to a platform, and then respond off the data to see what people need more or a less of, and when they need it as well.

                            So, you can do it both ways. As I say, one slightly more efficient and requires less assumptions. The other one recognises that learning and development might not have the access or the currency to go directly to a target audience from scratch.

Lucinda Carney:  Okay, so, it sounds great.

David James:       Uh-huh.

Lucinda Carney:  What I can’t, and I appreciate this is a podcast, and the viewers, listeners can’t appreciate how fabulous your gestures, you know, your waving arms around. I can’t quite see. What would I see? Can you describe what I would see as an end user? And also, what would I put in as an L&D person? Is it written? If some can view the screen, I’m assuming.

David James:       Yeah. So, the digital element is going to be, either on desktop or mobile. It’s likely to get to people where they work. So, as I said, it might be on their browser.

                            So, in their Google Chrome or Internet Explorer appear as a notification or a search bar. More likely, it’s going to be integrated with local tools. So, whether that be Slack, Microsoft Teams. You get a push notification says, hey, Lucinda, you’ve been here a week. If you haven’t seen already, there’s a staff, social board here. You know, have a look here. It will just drive you towards it.

Lucinda Carney:  To some places.

David James:       So, there’s a little signpost, yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  There’s signpost.

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  When I get Skype, I’ve got sort of Skype messages, there’s a little message or link in, click onto this.

David James:       It’s like WhatsApp. Like, if you’ve got your notifications on your phone, you know what it’s like now. It doesn’t matter how people connect with you. If you’ve got notifications on, then it’ll get to you. But it’s based on value, not on content. So, it’s all about recognising where you are, and what you’re trying to do.

                            So, at Looop, not to do any product placement. You know, I’m sure that there are other platforms to do this. We allow people to be, and we expect administrators with our APIs, so it’s connecting with their HR systems to be able to distinguish groups of people.

                            You might have new managers in sales who are budget holders, members of 3 distinct groups. If they are, then they can have access to particular content. They can have access to everything, if they wish. But we always say, get down to distinct groups. Understand what they’re trying to do. And then get that out of workflow. So, you can prompt to people.

                            So, budget holders, you might get to them and say, look, it’s time to do your forecasting. Forecasting needs to be done by this time. If you want to know how to do forecasting, take a look here. You go through it. You can click on the link, and then you’re in the resource. So, the resource can be simply text to set with guidelines. It might be images, infographics, checklists, for something that’s very instructional. It just might be a screen recording.

                            So, if you’re inputting a financial forecast rather than an Excel training course, it might be, here’s the link to the spreadsheet. All I need you to do, is, XYZ. Watch this video, if you’re unsure on how to do that. Then just complete it by 24th.

                            It might be something that is around aggregated best practice. So, what successful people should do, do within the organisation? I’ve been at the organisation for, say, a year. I’m starting to get itchy feet. I’ve kind of mastered my job. And I’m thinking, right, how do I get on here? Going to a resource that said, that was called something like, how do I get on within the company? Aggregated best practice might be 5 top tips to assess, whether you’re ready for the next move, and what to do next.

                            And I always say that, that’s like asking someone in your organisation. Lucinda, what do I do? I’ve been here a year. You might say, use an aggregated best practice. Right, you need to nail your current job. Your Line Manager needs to agree that you’re nailing your current job. You should have an eye on the notice board, and work on transferrable skills. Something like that. They are quite common.

                            But every organisation is going to have their unwritten rules of moving on. Oh yeah, one of those unwritten rules might be about your written. No one can move from their current job within 12 months of starting the previous. So, it’s all of that kind of stuff.

                            Then you’ve got something, which might be a bit more complex or sensitive. This might be best in a video headshot or a montage. An example might be, and this is a real one, we’ve done on the new manager resources or initiatives. This was, how do I manage somebody who doesn’t like me? Right. So, that is a really complex and sensitive one. But if you had the option, what would potentially be the best way of doing that digitally?

                            Well, imagine you’ve got 5 experienced managers who’ve all been through that, who could say what they’ve actually done in that situation. Now, it’s not going to be gospel. It’s not going to be tools. But it’s going to be insights that you would have gained similar to, if you’ve chatted to 5 managers around that particular thing.

Lucinda Carney:  So, would you have gathered those like video clips or quotes from these people. Is that would be the sort of data that you’d gathered as L&D professional in the organisation so that you could refer to that?

David James:       Well, something that’s complex like that, the last one about, you know, how do you manage somebody who doesn’t like you? You’ve got to deal with that, with the sensitivity and the complexity that it deserves. So that, I would say that, if you could look at the whites of the eyes of a manager who’d been through that, and always see the turmoil…

Lucinda Carney:  So, that you connect to the real person. That will be live rather than like video content, or something.

David James:       Exactly, yeah. So, then you find a way of doing that. But with the other staff, that’s just text them. And you know, the first one was a Screengrab. There’s screen recruiting software free on most computers. Just do a voice over, and get it out of the door. We’ve got clients who…

Lucinda Carney:  Curation, it’s basically called. A different content of all sorts.

David James:       Yeah, this stuff already exists in your organisation. Anybody who’s been in their organisation for a great deal of time will know a lot of this stuff. So, L&D could be both the curators and the administrators of this. You’ll need subject matter expert for some, where you just reach out.

                            And instead of saying, you know, one of the worst things you can say to someone in the organisation, is, like, you’re the fount of all knowledge. Would you mind, if I call you a subject matter expert? We’d call on you whenever we needed you. My response to that, would be, no, thanks. Like, I’m busy enough.

                            But if I said, Lucinda, you’re recognised as a subject matter expert. We’ve got these 3 questions that people are asking. They say that this would make a significant difference to their onboarding. Would you mind, if I talk to you about these three? The answer is always yes.

                            It might not be yes right now, but it would certainly be yes, because you have asked them for specific things. And that’s where this is very different.

Lucinda Carney:  And that’s working smart, because we all have this situation, where the person who is the fount of all knowledge, they don’t want to be a mentor anymore, because they are the go-to person. So, actually, it’s disseminating that information more broadly. That actually is working smarter for them as well as the organisation.

                            So, great. So, I think I am solved. That makes a lot of sense. I’m sure it’s not as simple as you make out. But it sounds pretty, really sensible. And it just feels like, it’s a much more modern way of identifying learning. I’m visualising my desktop, really with being able to jump on Google, or jump on Skype to ask somebody. It’s almost like, the way we work. But we’re doing it with learning to be able to access that when someone needs it.

David James:       Yeah, it’s not creating a new portal. I mean there is portal there. But it’s built recognising that people don’t want another new system. But if we can notify them of value when it’s recognised they need value, then we can give them a nudge, and then they’ll go through.

                            So, we’re not expecting people to go onto a new system, and say, oh look, this is the answer to all my problems, because it’s not. That’s why we’ve got to place ourselves in their shoes, and in their situations, in order to help them with their challenges.

Lucinda Carney:  It’s a variation on what is used to be called, on-the-job learning, isn’t it, actually?

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  I was almost going to ask you this earlier certainly. But I think it has kind of been answered. But do people know, you always wouldn’t know you’re learning in a situation. It’s actually, I just need this bit of information, in order to do what I’m trying to do. So, my motivation isn’t pure learning it. It’s effectiveness, and productivity, and taking away the obstacles of me not being able to do what I’m doing.

David James:       Yeah, I mean Charles Jennings talks about, I think, it was Charles Jennings said, the era of learning before working, it’s almost over. And certainly, in knowledge work, we just don’t retain the stuff in our head. So, going on a course for a day, having loads of content delivered at us or with us. we’ve got exercises to help us to remember. I know all of that stuff. And then going back to work, perhaps the week after, remembering everything, and then applying it in all the right situations. That’s all a fallacy.

Lucinda Carney:  Oh yeah, it was never thought through. It was an issue. It was used in 1970, I think.

David James:       Exactly, yeah. So, you might lose 90 percent of what you’ve remembered. Let’s not forget you will never remember everything that was delivered in the first place. So, what is actually taken away from a training course, is, always minimal.

                            And that is why I always go back to, and I say to trainers, have you ever qualified taking people away from their work, and not remembering everything by saying, if you only take one thing from this training course, then it would all have been worth it. Like it’s just not the case.

                            What we are talking about here, is, it’s been a lot more targeted and focussed on the roles that people are doing, the goals they’re trying to achieve, and things that are getting in the way. It’s so much more targeted and focussed, both as an activity for learning and development, and the value experience for the work up in the end.

                            So, you’re right. It’s not about learning. You gain the learning in the same way as we always have by doing. We’re creating an opportunity to provide more insight and competence alongside a little more confidence, because you’ve heard first-hand, or you’ve just received some information like, an expert who’s sitting next to you, and said, hey, if I were you, I’ll do it like this. You go, ah, okay, okay. It might not be enough, but I’m going to give this a crack.

Lucinda Carney:  The output is your effectiveness.

David James:       Yeah.

Lucinda Carney:  Your performance as opposed to the learning for learning sake, isn’t it?

David James:       There you go.        

Lucinda Carney:  Great. Well, that’s stimulating. I guess in terms of the time we’ve got together, I’d like to just understand a little bit more about you and your career history, if that is all right. Because as you know, this is the HR Uprising. And one of our motivation, is, to help people who are perhaps aspiring in their careers, learn from people who have become senior roles like yourself. So, now, I’ve got a note here that you’ve actually had 3 promotions in 6 years. So, you went from quite junior. Was that at Walt Disney?

David James:       Yes.

Lucinda Carney:  Up to being a Director in 6 years. So, if you were giving some advice to everyone who’s listening who has that aspiration to really rise through to the top in their organisation, what would you say? What from your, yeah, talk us through.

David James:       So, those promotions that I had…

Lucinda Carney:  Sorry, I’ll let you answer the question. I’ll put the tape out. I would be just having it recorded, and then you can…

David James:       Yeah, sure, I know I’ll go straight into… Do you want to tear up and say?

Lucinda Carney:  I just say again, answer the question. We might just think how it’s going to close them up. I have to remember. But I get the same size at the thing.

David James:       Shall we do it again?

Lucinda Carney:  I will do it again. Okay. Just going to play this again.

                            So, that’s great. Thanks so much for your time., David. That’s been fascinating. And that’s time for us to close this podcast.  So, our conversation with David James from Looop.

                            You’ve been listening to the HR Uprising, a conversation with episode. I’m your Host, Lucinda Carney. Do feel free to connect me. Just give us some feedback on what you thought of the podcast, and any further questions, we really welcome them. And remember, if you look up, you rise up.