Reflections on #lrnchat: Our Own Learning & Development- Past, Present, Future

Each week that I am able to participate in #lrnchat discussion I post a summary of the discussion to my blog. I do this both for my personal development as well as sharing with the Learning and Development Profession at large. This summary is based on my own interpretations of the chat; others who participated may have differing opinions or interpretations of the discussion. I welcome those that do to add your ideas to the comments.

The topic of this week’s #lrnchat session was “Our Own Learning & Development: Past, Present, & Future”.  The topic and questions were suggested by @craigtaylor74 & @mattiaskareld.
As this week #lrnchat fell on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, participation was lighter than usual and consisted of only the earlier session.
I always find looking at the questions that are used to loosely guide the chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the discussion questions that were presented to the group:
Q1) What’s the single biggest piece of “learning” for you over the last 12 months?
Q2) How different is it to the piece of “learning” from the previous 12 months?
Q3) In the next 12 months do you intend to consolidate your “learning” in this area, or move in a new direction?
Q4) How do we maintain a development momentum for ourselves?


Key Learning Points

As we approach the end of another year, it is natural to reflect on the experiences of the past 12 months.  This week’s #lrnchat did just that, as the discussion reflected not just on this year’s learning, but also comparing this year’s learnings to what we learned the previous year and what we expect to learn in the future.
The discussion began with a reflection on what our key learning was this year.  Not surprisingly, incorporating and emphasis on using Social Media and Informal Learning dominated the discussion.  This is, in many ways, the future of learning and development.  Incorporating these into your personal tool set and your organization’s performance strategy are critical. 
The discussion then moved towards comparing this learning to the key leaning of the previous 12 months.  Again the themes of Social Media and Informal Learning were present, but there was a key difference between the two time periods.  In the previous year, learning about these things had a feeling of ‘preparing for the future’; learning of the same topics this year had much more urgency, almost as though workplace learning professionals were unaware that the ‘future’ had arrived and were now trying to avoid falling behind the curve.
I think this is an excellent representation of how quickly technology and learning can intersect. Social media and informal learning will only increase this trend.  When you place the control of learning into the learner’s hands, they will determine what has value and its usage will naturally evolve.
The discussion then moved towards the future, wondering if we would continue to focus our learning on what we have in the past, or if we would move towards a new direction.  This was one of those rare #lrnchat moments where there was consensus amongst all.  People may have had different ways of saying it, but ultimately all agreed that what we choose to focus on in our learning is a dynamic target that is always on the move based on changes in individual and organizational need.  
The discussion concluded with sharing of ideas regarding how learning professionals can maintain momentum for their own development.  There were a number of great ideas shared here, many of which can be described as remaining connected to the passion and drive that you feel about the profession.  I think that, especially in corporate environments, it’s very easy to get caught up in the politics and stagnancy of ‘the way things are done’.  I think in an ideal world, developing yourself is completely in sync with the organizational goals. In reality though, it’s often not in complete sync. 
I think it’s critical that learning professionals and professionals in general, always remember to check the direction of both their personal and organizational compasses.  If they are not in relative sync more often than not, performance and satisfaction will suffer.
One of the reasons I enjoy reviewing the transcript of #lrnchat in addition to participating live is that often the common threads that run through most of the discussion become more apparent when reviewing the entire stream.  That was what happened this week for me.  In all the sharing of top learning, there was a theme.  In almost all of the cases, the top learning involved seeing value in something you did not see value in before.  It reminds me much of my early experience with Twitter.  I knew it was there and basically how it worked, but it wasn’t until I saw it’s value that the light bulb went off.

For me the most thought provoking tweet came in the form of the last of the four moderated questions: How do we maintain a development momentum for ourselves?
I have often coached members of my team on the importance of continued development, so the idea of maintaining focus on your own development is part of my DNA.  What struck me about that question was the addition of the word momentum. 
I can develop myself many different ways.  A class here, a book there… it all adds to my development of skills and knowledge.  What momentum implies is increased force and speed, and more importantly, a sense of building and direction.
I think that’s a critical piece of the development paradigm.  Participating in Development activities is good.  Choosing a direction and then setting a strategic development plan to get there is better.
It inspires me to re-ask myself the #lrnchat questions from this discussion, with a few important alterations:
It’s December 31st, 2011, and I’m reflecting on an amazing year of development.
·         Q1) How have I grown in the past 12 months?  What – specifically – is different?
·         Q2) What were the critical learnings that contributed to my development?
·         Q3) What would I need to do to make 2012 even better?
With those questions answered, I have the framework for my 2011 development plan.  Now all I need to do is fill in the gaps.

, , ,