A hot topic at CIPD show – making sure learning ‘sticks’

CIPD’s recent L&D show convinced me that action learning has come of age. The focus of many of the talks and workshops was how to fill the skills gap and ensure that learning sticks and gives a real return on investment. Recent research from PWC found that 77% of CEOs say that skills gaps will hinder their growth.

CIPD funded a large piece of research (by Towards Maturity). It found the critical levers of the top 10 performing organisations of the UK are:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Intelligent decision making
  • Continuous engagement
  • Holistic people experience
  • A thriving eco system
  • An agile, digitally enabled infrastructure

So how do you build that kind of an organisation?

I was inspired by listening to two great women from Bolt From The You Ltd, their answer to ‘making it stick’ or turning learning into real change is informed by neuroscience and an attention density approach: exposure + retention + application = permanent change.

In other words, if we focus on something long, hard and often enough we can change neural pathways. However connection is the key: “people tend to support that which they help to create”, Peter Drucker.

So action learning fits brilliantly: in enabling people to come to their own conclusion, define their own actions and then report back to their peer group on what they are doing differently. The accountability to a peer group on the application of the learning is crucial in action learning – what have I learnt? So what am I doing?

CIPD concluded that the role of the L&D professional is to ‘scaffold community’ – a great concept but how do you make it happen in practice? We are convinced that action learning can be a crucial part of that scaffold and organisations can create a sustainable network of learning by investing in action learning facilitation.

In a recent article by our associate John Heywood, we look at the role of neuroscience in action learning and how it supports and embeds a ‘can-do’, solution- focused mindset for the long term.

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