Just back from Melbourne and a successful, thought-provoking conference that focused on the “70:20:10″ of learning, where 70% indicates on-the-job learning, 20% is ‘nearby learning’ in the form of coaching, mentoring etc. and 10% is learning through formal programmes. The general concensus was that we shouldn’t get too hung up on specific numbers, and the focus for L&D professionals and business schools alike should be on the integration of these three elements of learning to maximise the effectiveness of employee development.
The conference opened with a lively panel discussion facilitated as an open dialogue by Professor Kim Taylor Thompson of New York University. Though Kim has now returned to the discipline of Law, she is no stranger to Executive Education, having been the CEO of Duke CE until recently. The six panel members, senior executives from a range of multinational organisations, the Dean and Director of Melbourne Business School and the President of the Australian Human Resources Institute, discussed their experience of blending the three components of learning, and shared their perspectives on what the future will look like. Employee choice and the employee-employer psychological contract; the role of technology and social media; the trend toward just-in-time, rather than just-in-case, learning and the importance of leadership for a learning culture were all emphasised.
Elaine Rumboll, Director of Executive Education at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, opened day 2 of the conference with her keynote on Building Learner Readiness. She emphasised the importance of managing attention and awareness – the art of ’productive presencing’ – in a world where were are engulfed by information and the boundaries between work and home are increasingly blurred. Elaine shared 10 ‘hacks’ with the audience on effective and practical strategies for enhancing our own and others’ preparedness for learning, such as ‘learning sprints’ - focused timed sessions where multi-tasking is banned and ‘single-tasking’ is the essence and ‘jamming sessions’ for generating creative ideas, where participants play specific roles to encourage a range of views on a topic.
Three workshops followed, on the Role & Influence of the L&D professional, by Inge Wels and Ellen Pruyne from Ashridge, Applying Gaming Principles to Blended learning environments, by Dave Duarte from Cape Town, and a new take on the old classic of Teaching Smart People How to Learn, by Ann Whyte and Paul Lawrence from the Centre for Coaching in Organisations at Melbourne Business School. I attended the Gaming workshop, where Dave had us all thinking about how to take some of the addictive compulsive design features that computer games designers have cleverly embedded into their games and apply them to an executive learning situation.
Professor Eddie Blass gave the afternoon keynote, sharing insights from Ashridge research on Talent Management. She drew attention to the importance of having a flexible talent pool where people cycle in and out, rather than being labelled (or not labelled) as ‘talent’ and highlighted the problem of many recruitment and development systems that kill diversity and stifle creativity by the restricted nature of the way in which ‘talent’ is identified.
Eddie then went on to run one of the afternoon workshops, looking at Personal Inquiry as a mechanism for executive development, alongside two other workshops, one that introduced a different weighting to the 70:20:10, 50:30:20, and how this has manifest itself in a leadership development experience in the US; the other looking at two Australian models of learning and how these have accelerated learning in the workplace.
The conference dinner was followed by an entertaining talk by Rachel Lamont, leader of the 58th National Antarctic Research Expedition – only the second woman, and one of the youngest leaders – to run the annual Australian research expedition to Antarctica. She was very candid in her admittance that it was more by luck and a following wind than a dedication to polar science that led her to the leadership position, and gave a frank and graphic description of her year living in one of the remotest parts of the world.
On the final day of the conference, Paul Kirkbride, Deputy Dean for Executive Education at Melbourne Business School, summarised the trends he sees happening in the Executive Education space, and some of the choices that providers and consumers of exec ed need to be aware of as we look to the future: The distinction between Education, Training and Development; Focus on the Individual and/or Organisation; a Pipeline versus Organisational Imperative strategy for executive development and the difference between knowledge, behaviour and culture in terms of structuring and designing development experiences.
After Paul’s keynote, we shared our learning group reflections from the conference, and spent the last couple of hours with paint, canvas and natural ‘props’ bringing together an artistic representation of a key theme from the conference.
The third conference in the partnership series will be held in South Africa from 21-23 March 2012, organised by the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business Executive Education Unit. It promises to be an innovative and fully experiential event, and is open to exec ed clients and practitioners. More information to follow later in the year…