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6 Smart Insights from Chicagoland’s Learning Leaders | May 22, 2018 Event Recap

June 04, 2018 9:52 AM | Anonymous

By Susan Camberis
Editor, Training Today


ATDChi’s May event was the Chicagoland Talent Development Leadership Forum. 

Featuring some of our region’s top learning leaders, the event centered around a panel discussion entitled, Learning and Development Today:  How are Learning Leaders Preparing for the Future of Learning?  The event was co-sponsored by ATDChi, The CARA Group, and Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and was held at LFGSM’s Schaumburg campus. 

Michelle Reid-Powell, VP of Talent Management and OE with The Cara Group, shared opening remarks and moderated the panel discussion.  Panelists included:  Jenny Massoni, Director, Global Lead for Learning and Change Enablement with Astellas; Teri Hart, Sr. Director of Learning Strategy with Discover Financial Services; Don Stanley, Director of Leadership Development with W.W. Grainger; Peggy Degnan, Director of Leadership Development with AJ Gallagher; and Mary Clare Healy, Global Director of Learning and Development with Informa. 

Before the panelists shared their perspectives, Reid-Powell highlighted key trends and CARA’s own market research on Learning and Development (L&D).    

The evolution of L&D has happened blindingly fast – moving quickly from Talent Management to Digital Learning and heading for Intelligent Learning (i.e. intelligent, personalized, machine-driven), according to Bersin by Deloitte.

CARA’s client research has found that companies are innovating their approaches from event-based design to learner-centric design and are utilizing different ways to access content (e.g. interactive PDFs, YouTube channels).  Many are considering learners as “consumers”, adapting “customer experience” and “design thinking” approaches to learning (e.g. mapping the learning journey, focusing on moments of truth, using net promoter scores to rate learning departments).  Micro learning remains in high demand and is usually part of a blended learning approach. 

Here are 6 smart insights from the evening’s discussion:

  1. It’s not “Field of Dreams.”  When discussing learning challenges, Don Stanley shared that business transformation can put added stress on organizations.  His team’s approach at W.W. Grainger has been to look for ways to encourage front-line leaders and team members to “pull” on development – to utilize the resources available.  According to Stanley, “It’s not field of dreams.”  The organization has to perceive a business need before it will build a new solution.
  2. Less is more.  “Helping different teams and vendors to curate is key when it comes to content,” according to Mary Clare Healy.  At Informa, Mary’s team seeks to offer content that can be consumed in 5 minutes or less.  According to Healy, “People won’t click onto Lynda.com to search.”  In line with this reflection, Reid-Powell shared a 2016 Microsoft study that found the human attention span is now less than 8 seconds (= less than that of a goldfish). 
  3. Micro learning is not always the right solution.  Despite the trends regarding attention span, “deep” learning is still important when it comes to developing capabilities, according to Teri Hart.  At Discover, Hart and her team are discussing the trends in micro learning and developing learning strategies that balance the need to be efficient with the need to ensure Discover is developing the capabilities required to drive the business. 
  4. Ask the right questions.  Reflecting on the critical skills that L&D team members need now and will need in the future, Jenny Massoni shared that she is trying to cultivate a “performance consultant” mindset with her team.  “You have to have effective questioning skills,” said Massoni. 
  5. Flexibility is key.  Discussing the impact of learning trends on teams and approach, Peggy Degnan shared that AJ Gallagher is moving towards a shared service model.  The organization’s desire is to have team members (e.g. designers and facilitators) that can be leveraged across the organization – as a way to maximize flexibility.  This includes having a pool of resources to support leadership development.
  6. Packaging matters.  According to Reid-Powell, “look and feel” is becoming as important as content itself.  For this reason, many L&D departments are shifting towards a marketing communications approach vs. a pure instructional design approach. 

With investment and C-level support for learning on the rise, it remains a great time to be in learning and development. 

And, while the landscape will continue to evolve and present new challenges, today’s learning leaders are up to the challenge. 


How are you preparing for the future of learning? 



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