Learning points about modern L&D from Australian Work 2.0 conference

The Learning @ Work conference in Australia had many highlights of modern learning theory. Sarah-Louise Herring shares her reflections.

The world of Learning and Development gathered at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney Australia, to participate in Work 2.0. A two day extravaganza of conferences, round-tables, networking and product showcases.

Work 2.0 hosted four conferences that ran simultaneously: Future of Work, Wellness @ Work, HR Tech and Learning @ Work.

The conference is one of the biggest hosted events in Australia and is an amazing opportunity for professionals across multi-disciplinary practices to come together, share and discuss industry trends, concerns and ideas.

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Being a Learning and Organisational Professional, I focused my energies on attending the Learning @ Work conference. With a blend of different industries represented, participants were treated to key insights from CEO’s, HR Directors, Talent and Learning and Organisational Consultants.

Like most conferences, things tend to move fast and you need to be ready, paying close attention to gather and share critical insights. The key topics that formed a running theme focused on: Social Learning; Knowledge Management; and Collective Intellectual Capacity.

There was a spotlight on the application of theories, methodologies and trends and plenty of “ah-ha” and lightbulb moments. There were opportunities for self-development and reflection. This was with the encouragement from Keynote Speaker, host and #TJwow webinar speaker Con Sotidis, to challenge what you know and how you practise.

Sotidis encouraged participants to engage with others at the conference, including the speakers and to embrace Working Out Loud amongst peers.

The presenters did a fantastic job in contextualising theories, frameworks and practices to their organisational structures.

Organisational change

Mary Lemonis, VP HR Asia Pacific Campbell’s Soup Company, demonstrated value in utilising a well-known organisational development framework from FranklinCovey.

Lemonis articulated how Campbell’s Soup Company had taken the FranklinCovey framework and adapted it to suit the cultural and business needs of the organisation. Lemonis spoke about “Campbell’s moving away from HR driving capability to working in partnership with line managers.”

Lemonis went on to say that they have seen a significant increase in engagement by asking “what is motivating your employee?” instead of assuming. She set a running theme for the rest of the conference with other speakers referencing the movement towards harnessing intellectual capacity and social learning in organisations with learning as a strong enabler of engagement.

UM CEO, Ross Raeburn, took this to the next level. He stated the UM is in search of the “Unicorn”. Yes, unicorns! Raeburn positioned UM’s team members as being unique unicorns, saying that “they are individuals who hate mediocrity”.

Raeburn and his team have developed a brand positioning strategy that allows for UM to attract and recruit individuals who have the cultural and work ethics that reflect UM’s brand. The talent is then able to work together to harness and learn from each other as they grow and develop.

Panel discussion

There was a lot of focus on knowledge sharing, social learning and individual responsibility for learning activities, as well as forming and shaping organisational structures to help facilitate these approaches. Discussion panellists were posed with a series of questions around:

  • What are the opportunities to better enrich the learning experience?
  • How can learning help create a compelling employee experience?
  • How can learning co-exist with Working Out Loud?
  • How can we create learning environments that support continuous learning?

Panellist Alexandra Lederer, Vice President, Learning & Development at SiteMinder responded to these questions: “Make learning agile, make it more efficient. Mobile and micro learning is where we are going”. She also commented further on agile L&D environments and how they can benefit organisations and learners: “Use agile to break down the cycle of development and apply across multi-disciplinary units.”

Panellist Maxim Tambling, Director, Talent & Business Partnering at AMP also added that organisations need to harness and enrich learner experiences saying: “Organisations can pull the lever on experience. [They can] manufacture experiences.”

Both Lederer and Tambling agreed that agile and micro learning is where the industry needs to be, with Lederer stating: “We don’t have the time to sit in a classroom anymore. I want to see ROA [Return on Attention].”

Focus on people

Moving towards the end of day two, Leila Wearing, Director of Accor Hotels Academie and Talent Development at AccorHotels, took the stage to wow participants with a presentation on,what they call “PeopleOlogy”.

The audience, engaged and wide-eyed, took in every moment of the presentation as Wearing guided conference-goers through a real case study with proven results. PeopleOlogy at AccorHotels “connects to Human Truths, it connects to what makes us human.”

Accor’s HR and Learning team have researched, tested and implemented a system focused on people to engage, inspire and drive learning and performance from its employees. Within a set of boundaries, Wearing summed up that PeopleOlogy “is not L&D or HR, it is owned by Operations. They facilitate the workshops so they learn the content themselves, L&D is there to support. The organisation owns and lead the PeopleOlogy Program.”

Another speaker that inspired me was Gayle Piek, Group Head of Capability at Westpac Group. Piek covered learning as a strategic business partner, the new order for learning professionals. Piek stated that “L&D Professionals must be exceptional at three things.” You can reflect, review and implement these:

  1. Reading the ever-evolving landscape for the future capabilities required by the organisation
    • New order skills
    • Adaptive leadership
    • Embrace digital transformation
    • Judgement and decision making
  2. Understanding the expectation of our learners.
    • Learner-led
    • Collaborative/social/co-creation
    • Self-directed
    • Accessible
  3. Digital Adoption
    • Anywhere; anytime; any device
    • Predictive content
    • Virtual networks
    • Lego Learning

Whilst all speakers shared valuable and insightful topics and case studies, if anything was going to be a take-away for Learning and Development professionals from the last two days, these three points would be it.

The Work 2.0 conference took place in Australia in October 2016.

About the author
Sarah-Louise Herring is a Global Learning and Development Consultant at SiteMinder. She can be contacted through Twitter @SLHerring11

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