Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Informal Learning - the other 80%

I went to another interesting breakfast under the auspices of AHRI with guest speaker Neysa King, Leader of L and D at American Express. Some of her thoughts are summarised below:
1. She asked the group to give some thought to what impact the following areas have on L and D- organisational factors
external factors
2. There is a definite paradox between learning input and learning output and the research is indicating that 80% of learning happens informally. We therefore can't leave this to chance.
3. At American Express, 2 key elements underpin informal learning - fostering learning communities and providing people with the right skills to learn effectively in informal settings.
4. Informal learning tends to be unstructured, short, self-guided and it doesn't involve travel expenses! People learn informally through observation, through coming together to problem solve, attending meetings, coaching sessions, newsletters and chatting to colleagues. It is just in time learning that happens in short bites and relates to what "I need to know how to do right now".
5. One of the key competitive edges that an organisation has is related to its knowledge capital and how do you ensure that this rich learning is spread through the organisation? The people who create the most value in an organisation are those who know the right people, the right stuff and the right thing to do".
6. Employees who have the capacity to learn are more versatile in adapting to future conditions.
and if the organisation can create a platform where conversations are fostered, the knowledge of the organisation will be better harnessed. This entails a shift towards a learner-centric culture where modules are delivered in short, sharp ways with lots of flexibility and peer mentoring is included.
7.AMEX has adapted a radio-type format that includes 'best practice calls'. This is not top-down driven and instead includes the kind of information that learners want to know about. People can jump in and listen to any part of the 45 minute call and the calls are also recorded and kept for 90 days.
8. In addition, mentors are being trained in how to ask the right questions. Look no further than the techniques used by Andrew Denton in Enough Rope programs for some tips on how to do this.
9. The gen Y style of learning has implications for informal learning. The expectations are for peer discussions in a safe environment as well as elearning. Don't measure success rates by completion of elearning programs though as they rarely complete - they get the information they need and move on.
10. Team leaders are provided with templates, movie clips and activities for team meetings so that they can engage team members and ensure that the learning that is needed is conveyed in short chunks.

Management and Leadership

What a pleasure to listen to John Stewart, Group CEO of NAB. I went to a luncheon today where he spoke and his easy-going, relaxed style certainly was a show-stopper.
He spoke about the possibilities of a recession and also the profitability of Australian banks.
What really struck me was how he used the power of story-telling and used metaphors to enliven the main points he was making and also to ensure audience engagement.
In order to make the point that the markets overseas are over-heated and are over-reacting to situations, he made this analogy:
If everyone in this room agreed to do business together BUT there was one person in the room who had a contagious disease. If you simply touched that person, you would catch the disease, what would you do?
This is what is happening in the markets, where investors have perceived problems in one sector and has over-reacted by not doing business anywhere at all.
John could be a roving ambassador for LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. He is able to get messages across through the power of stories and through the use of analogies - all that LEGO SERIOUS PLAY stands for.
John ended his discussion with a plea to establish centres of excellence in Australia so that young people don't leave to take up positions elsewhere in the world. We need to keep investing in education at all levels, he said.

Monday, February 25, 2008


We continue to have the most amazing interest in the methodology behind LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. Our sessions are sell-outs and the level of input from attendees is astounding. We are learning so much about a range of different organisations and what their current challenges are.
There is definitely a common thread that is noticeable - that organisations and teams are dealing with substantial changes in their structure and in their vision. Groups have been sharing insight into these changes and how managers and their teams are struggling to cope with the enormity of the changes and the substantial challenges that these changes have generated.
Through using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY process, the groups have shared stories about feelings that the group is experiencing and the disarray that they sense around them. Some groups have seen the positive side but others simply feel that they are overwhelmed.
This is really where LEGO SERIOUS PLAY comes into its own. The process allows the participants to tell their stories and work through issues in a non-threatening way. This serves as the opening of the pressure valve and creates non-pressurised time to express feelings and allow others an insight into the mood of the team.
These are some of the models built in the breakfast sessions that became metaphors for challenges and for the experiences of team members.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

LEGO Serious Play

The LEGO Serious Play methodology once again proves that its versatility and power. We used the bricks as a way of introducing a discussion around major changes that were going to be implemented in an organisation.
The challenges posed to the group included - what do you currently enjoy about your present role and what are the challenge and what are the challenges that you see coming up for the team over this period of change.
It was simply amazing to see the most incredible models that were buit and the heartfelt stories that were told by all team members. Those experiencing physical pains as a result of the changes in their environment as well as stories about how they see the road ahead.
The session served as a type of catharsis and allowed all participants to participate without any single player dominating the conversation. There was a lot of discussion about how to deal with the changes and cope with the feelings of anger and isolation that were being felt in the team.
A model of the brighter future was constructed towards the end of the session and there was overall a more positive sense that this was achievable.
I am more convinced than ever that the methodology around LEGO Serious Play ensures that teams hold deeper conversations and more meaningful discussions when the power of play is involved. I have read all the theorists pondering on the differences between instructionism and constructionism - but when you see it happening in front of you with teams who are genuinely in the grips of some really scary change and who can for the first time see a clear path ahead....that is very powerful.