Crystal ball gazing! L&D in 2013 & times ahead.

The Chief Learning Officer Magazine group on Linkedin had a question : “What learning and development trends are you anticipating in 2013?”  What started out as simple crystal ball gazing into 2013 ended with a slew of points, which I then brought down to the Top 10.   Read on!

2013 will see employees born in the 1990s coming into organisations. The world has always been different for this generation. A world where the internet has always been available. Choice is central. Freedom is valued. Authority is irrelevant if it doesn’t add value! Thus 2013 and the next few years will perhaps be the inflection points where fundamental changes in the way L&D ( & organisations ) operate will commence taking place.

Obviously, different parts of the world are differently placed to leverage what the year ahead has to offer. Some technologically advanced & privileged and yet others rich in contexts and physical interactions. Therefore, the challenges and trends are going to be remarkably different.

Yet, here are a few trends. Perhaps, hopes that I nurture for 2013 and the times ahead.

1. Principally, learning & development will have a whole lot to answer. ‘Outcome accountability’ will supersede ‘action accountability’. The age old question of effectiveness will continue to hold court. But with even greater focus. A question that wont get answered by a meaningless set of numbers but by a coherent change, seen in the field.

2. 2013 hopefully will see L&D and line managers reach out to each other and collectively own accountability for employee learning and organisational growth. Or rather, they will be forced to. (Or so I hope!). Learner and line manager accountability will have more mind share than the present.

3. The need to think BEYOND the classroom and e-learning courses will not only be acutely felt, it would be persistently demanded by leadership teams. With economies and organisations still negotiating uncharted territories, the need for cost effective long lasting change will stand tall. Not fancy courses, exotic locations, flash and binders. Action Learning and similar pedagogies will get far greater mileage than what they get now.

4. Imaginative blends that have accent on ‘choice’, enabling employees to choose what is most required for himself / herself will begin emerging. And these choices will not be limited to what the L&D team can put together but all that is available in the world! L&D would well not be gatekeepers but rather facilitate employees leveraging these better. MOOCs & Personal Learning Networks are cases in point. With commoditization of information and knowledge, L&D could well move to being ‘levers’ to help learners and their managers to access their own learning

5. The accent of ‘performance’ on the learning agenda will increase and thus ‘performance support’ and ‘transfer of learning’ will gain far more importance than ‘learning’ itself. (The outcomes superseding action theme applies here as well).

6. Executive Coaching as a performance support tool will emerge stronger than it is today. This capability for executive coaching coming from within or from learning services organisations.

7. The technology enabled learning space will grow far beyond the confines of an LMS and E-Learning courses. The primacy of ‘What do you know’, slowly getting replaced by ‘Who do you know that knows what you want to know’. Experts and expertise that resided with a few will increasingly get to reside in the open space for people to access. And more often than not, beyond the organisation’s firewall. (The organisation’s firewall in itself could undergo a change, to include vendors, suppliers et al!)

8. Technology will enable byte sized chunking of learning and creating opportunities for employees to learn anytime. Easy and ready to access formal learning content, user generated content and curated content, at the time of actual requirement for learning / reinforcement. Mobiles, tablets, laptops will all be vehicles to access content resting on the cloud, ready to be accessed closest to actual performance. Technology will sure change the anachronistic methods of evaluation and hopefully lead us to a purposeful use of big data.

9. The importance of line leaders taking ownership of organisational learning and all kinds of investment in employee development will start getting more acutely felt. Thus comprehensive learning interventions that are led by co-designed and co-facilitated by line managers will see greater emphasis. Not only will it hold great value for employees, it would pave the way for contextual leadership building as well. L&D to get line managers skilled and willing to do this more often will be key to success

10. All of these would mean the need for L&D folks to critically look at their own portfolio of talent and skills will emerge stronger than ever! L&D leaders who weave imaginative, cost effective solutions in partnership with employees/ line leadership resulting in meaningful, measurable impact will be sought after!

Like always, would love to hear your views.

A Pamphlet !

After a short flight I landed at the Mumbai airport to prepare myself for a ‘long drive’ ( of 12 kM) home. At the airport at Mumbai, just as I was boarding a taxi, I got this handed over to me. The driver told me something to the effect of “read this. It is important for people like you”. Whatever that meant.

It was a pamphlet detailing how much to pay. What are the basic fares. How much do you pay for luggage? Who to complain to. And so on. An initiative of the Regional Transport Authority.

This was wonderful. Not that auto’s and taxis in Mumbai are that bad. Infact, in my opinion, they are very good. Consider these. Especially so for autos.

1.They go by the meter reading.

2. They are generally clean.

3. They are generally straight and will take you from point A to point B with least hassle.

4. They dont complain about bad roads and use it as a ruse to charge you more. ( Most motorable roads in Mumbai are anyway the same, and the good ones are off-bounds for autorickshaws are anyway).

5. And they are available almost round the clock.

There are many friends and colleagues who are from Mumbai who argue with this view. They say that there is far more to be desired from the autorickshaws and taxis of Mumbai.

I tell them, please try and visit Chennai (at any time) and Bangalore (beyond peak hours). Where the autos and taxis will charge a fee, the least of which is based on the actual distance to be traversed.

I know that i indeed am generalising. And there could be many an exception. But this leads me to a different topic. Life in Mumbai.

Which is quite different while being seemingly similar. It seems to be more chaotic. But then, actually, to me, it is much more more orderly. Life flows. People are busy. Everything including ‘laziness’ seems to be planned. ( “I plan to laze around”).

The anonymity of the city is all consuming. The coexistence of stark diversity is mind numbing at times. And of course, the moving sea of people at any point in time makes you feel like a small speck.

But this pamphlet threw some light. Into what is called ‘order’ ! Perhaps Chennai & Bangalore can take a leaf from here. Perhaps a pamphlet !

Life skills for the road !

The roads of Bangalore present scenes that are far from scenic !

Platform skills are skills that every public speaker must have. But that was in a different era. Today, Platform skills are essential life skills that bike riders in Bangalore have ! And some of them excel in it !

As bikes, cars, autos stand & inch to inch (Not ceding an inch to another. Respecting the gap as though it was the international border between Pakistan and India. Sorry. Disputed International border !) bike riders take to the platforms. Or pavements. And once they are onto the platforms, they zip, and if you are a pedestrian, God bless you !

The other element is the number plate in a non-Alpha-Numeric script.

Similar number plates will hit your eye in Tamil Nadu & other staes too. Crazy. Isnt it ? If such number plates are to be taken as bonafides for ‘passion for a language’ , the argument flies low !

But crazy? Smart perhaps. If this guys knocked somebody down, you will need some drawing skills to note down the number. Now do you have it in you ?

So, the next time you want to drive around here, two skills that can come in handy: Platform skills and drawing skills !

PG or PJ !

Thats a new trend. PG accommodation. PG stands for Paying Guest accommodation. A trend in Bangalore with many young men and women who move from their small towns with big hopes, aspirations and salaries, into the mega city Bangalore is now becoming !

A Paying Guest to me, means a guest in somebody’s home. You pay for your stay. Going by all the advertisements that proclaim PG accommodation is available, well, one may get to think that there indeed are so many houses with a host who is willing to take somebody in as a guest ! Thats what i thought until many years ago, i was lead to some other place!

A paying guest (PG) is a misnomer of sorts. A PG for practical purposes is a ‘hostel’ accommodation. Many a time with multiple ‘inmates’ sharing a room. And many rooms in a complex. With constant movement of people from one organisation to another, there is also constant move from one PG to another !

I guess somewhere the correct understanding has to go in. So if you are in Bangalore, and somebody talks to you about a PG accommodation, and you are going to think of a good host who has given you one room of his or her house, please remember the reality of the case could rest at the other end of the spectrum.

No PG. Perhaps is a PJ ! ( Poor Joke for the uninitiated ) !

The song i chose was Home by Micheal Buble. A favourite song again !
The feelings of wanting to go home prevails for every newcomer to a big city. ” Maybe surrounded by A million people I, Still feel all alone
I just wanna go home..”

Writing on the wall !

Read on..
Sayeed David (R) proposes to his girlfriend Shella Thomas (L) via a giant video screen (top) at the launch of a new interactive media service where people will be able to text messages directly onto the giant screen in Melbourne’s Federartion Square, 15 May 2007. Thankfully she accepted the proposal, the first of hopefully many more proposals in the Square that attracts more than eight million visitors a year.

That was interesting. To say the least. I cant imagine myself saying that on a wide screen. But then i am not Mr. Sayeed David. Nor do we have such facilities available here. Not yet. Ok, i guess i will stick to blaming technology not being available here !

We seem to be arching our backs to do something different. Something offbeat. I have in the past read about under-water marriages. Marriages of convenience. Diplomatic proposals. Indecent proposals. Marriages in mid air. Divorces over phone calls and media interviews Proposals from the earth’s poles etc ! But a proposal through a giant screen in a public square…well, first time.

In our worlds where arranged marriages still rule, such propositions can be ‘offbeat’ to put it mildly. But whats more important, is Ms.Shella Thomas agreed. And hopefully live happily ever after ! And by the way, these folks are the first. And it is expected many more will follow suit !

What can we say. Congratulations Mr. Sayeed, you scripted your own writing. And now your writing is on the wall. Well, err..on the billboard!!

Winged India

Dateline Delhi. Or rather, Gurgoan. In a guest house somewhere. Travel on work is interesting. You get to see whats happening with another part of the country on corporate India’s money !

The lazy Sunday is a misnomer for Bangalore’s airport ! It seems perennially busy. Serpentine queues greeted me. There were uncles, aunts, children, grandparents. The first time flier all complete with the traditional yellow bag ( manja pai). The suited booted corporate clad. The semi clad. VVIPS. Ordinary blokes. Students. You name a genre. And you can find it any of India’s airports.

In a way, India is consuming air travel with a vengeance, for all the time lost between the time planes started flying till about a few years ago. When flying was a luxury and formed part of long term goals. Something like “I will buy a house. I will marry my daughter. I will fly to Chennai” !

With flying in some cases costing, as much as bird feed, everybody seems to have developed wings ! And the airports are becoming a cultural melting point of sorts. With infrastructure struggling to keep pace with the wings that the nation has suddenly got, we see strange scenes.

Passengers curled up on the ground ( scenes that instantly took me back to Chennai Central). Overflowing bins. Crowded coaches. Funny announcements.

Sample this. “ ladees & Jhentelmenn Air xyz ees proud to hannounce depharture of its flight …… to Treeeh-Van-Drum. Hall pahsengerrs….”. I didn’t catch it the first time. Not even the second time. When I did catch it, I smiled. Good luck Trivandrum. So what if the Kerela government changed the name to Thiruvananthapuram !

Well, the only absent element is the ‘my-kerchief-drop-seat-mine’ reservation system that one sees in bus stands and unreserved coaches of the railways. On second thoughts, NO. I remember, on a trip by Air Deccan to Hubli a couple of years back, a colleague sprinted to the aircraft, across the tarmac as soon as he alighted from the transit coach.

I was puzzled. But I sprinted too. Because everybody was sprinting. I didn’t quite know why. Only when I got into the aircraft did I realise that my colleague had got in first, to get himself a good seat and reserve one for me. Air Deccan has no seat numbers. So the good old kerchief can come in handy for a reservation!

This time around I travelled Jet. The food was surprisingly bad. But the inflight entertainment was well done. Who cares if it was Kingfisher got them to change or they changed on their own! As we approached Delhi, I listened to some sufi music and thought, we have come a long way.

It was music to the ears !