In a world where there is a profusion of wonderful materials for learning, from MOOCs, to YouTube, on through iTunes U, to open source resources and more; where it is possible to learn about almost anything with two clicks on a keyboard or smartphone; the simple question emerges, why on earth do we need learning professionals? If learning becomes embedded in work, is this not another area ripe for disintermediation? Are learning professionals becoming the new blockers and obstructionists? Is their role becoming as absurd as the host of employees who once used to schedule meetings, add up the columns on expense claim forms and book staff travel. Learning is simply another area where you can use appropriate technologies to “do it yourself”.
Learning, however, is not administrative! It is about ensuring that organisations remain fit for purpose in a world where the carpet is continuously yanked from beneath our feet. When what made sense one week appears ridiculous the next, only the human brain, assisted by the profusion of data available, is capable of making decisions that will continuously realign. Survival is about smart. Smart requires stimulated brains in a great environment, where learning is not the exception but the day in, day out rule.
At, perhaps, the greatest time to be working in learning inside the workplace, the very nature of the function is under threat. That is the contradiction that everybody at the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition will have to address sooner rather than later.
I would like to talk through these contradictions and show that a reinvigorated and more powerful learning function will emerge from the tensions of the present. If the out worn cliche, “our people are our greatest asset” is really going to mean something significant, then investing in that asset is important, and learning is one of the most efficient and effective ways of investment because it delivers an astonishing return.
Nigel Paine can be seen presenting on The top 10 challenges the learning professional will face in the next 10 years at 15:10 on Wednesday 30th September at the World of Learning Conference.
Nigel Paine is the author of The Learning Challenge published by Kogan Page at £29.99.
Appointed in April 2002 to head up the BBC’s Learning and Development operation, Nigel built a successful learning and development operation which included a brand-new on-boarding program, a comprehensive leadership development program for over 6,000 staff, and a state of the art informal learning and knowledge sharing network.
He left the BBC in September 2006 to start his own company which focuses on building great workplaces by promoting programmes which integrate creativity, innovation, values based-leadership and learning. Nigel speaks at conferences around the world and writes for a range of international publications. He has also worked with senior executives in companies in Brazil, Europe, Australia and the USA. Nigel is an Academic Co-Director and teacher in the CLO doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania, and teachers on executive programs for the London Campus of Chicago Booth Business School.
In 2012, Nigel completed a global survey of talent management book for ARK UK; he has also written a book on C21st learning leadership called The Learning Challenge that was published by Kogan Page in September 2014, and a new E book introduction to Neuroscience for Learning that was published in May 2015.
He is a Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and the Royal Society of Arts, and has been a visiting Professor at Napier University since 1998. In 2006 he was given the Masie Learning Thought Leader Award, and he has been a Masie Fellow ever since. In 2012 he was given the Colin Corder Award for outstanding achievement in corporate learning by the UK’s Learning and Performance Institute.
Nigel is the Chairman of the UK CLO Network, and is a non-executive director of two small startup software businesses.
Latest posts by Nigel Paine (see all)
- Why invest in leadership development, when the experts tell you it is a waste of money? - October 7, 2017
- Why do we need Learning Professionals? - September 21, 2015