Why should I care…… and biscuits

Unlike HELF, which I am new to, I have been a member of the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) for over 10 years. The LPI is “a global Institute for Learning & Development professionals. Established in 1995 the Institute has grown on an annual basis to become the leading authority on Learning & Development.” A few years ago I was made a Fellow and as a result was invited to the Fellows Symposium in Aldgate. With the title “the Learning Curve” it brought together “the heads of learning from some of the UK’s largest organisations, including a number of FTSE 250 organisations, for a day of networking and inclusive debate.” The symposium was a mix of workshop, presentations and discussion.  http://www.learningandperformanceinstitute.com/fellows-symposium.htm

I had forgotten the joy of the early morning commute into London. Strolling along the beach or through Singleton Park is a somewhat different experience on one’s way to work. As this was an event with a more corporate flavour I thought I ought to make sure I was smart and didn’t let the University down. Shows what I know – I was the only delegate in a tie! The other guy in the picture with a tie is the MD of the LPI https://twitter.com/YourLPI/status/539369035549663232/photo/1

Anyway enough of my fashion ‘tips’ and on to the content of the day. One of the sessions attempted to apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to organisations. I’m not quite sure how well that worked but I did pick up a few useful nuggets. When discussing some of the positive and negative effects actions have on motivation and whether they are short of long term, the issue of biscuits arose. Now I’m a big fan of biscuits and there were some mighty fine examples at the coffee break. So this got my attention. (By the way if you like biscuits, you really should visit this site. http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/) A large company used to have biscuits at its meetings. The management decided that to save money biscuits would no longer be available. On the surface this seems sensible if money is tight and biscuits aren’t essential to the running of the organisation. However, the impact on moral was huge across the company and 10 years later staff still remember and resent the issue. What may have been seen as a short term, low level impact had a major, long term impact.  They didn’t try to quantify it but I suspect the impact of the drop in moral on productivity was probably greater than the saving made in biscuits. I’m not advocating we have biscuits in meetings or lectures but we need to think carefully about the impacts of our actions. We might not get 10 years of student resentment but changes that aren’t fully thought through could have a negative impact on students throughout their time here.  The same could be true of our work in SALT. Food for thought.

The keynote was from Andy Laporta, author, speaker and highly rated by the FT no less. When I spoke to him over lunch he said that I must say hello to a member of our Accounting and Finance teaching staff here that he had met at a recent event in Cardiff. I don’t normally get to speak to the keynote at events like this or have them extoll the virtues of my colleagues. I don’t know whether this was due to the fact that he’s an expert on networking or down the excellence of the teaching staff in Accounting and Finance. I suspect a bit of both.

Andy talked about networking and I wasn’t sure how this would apply to our work in SALT but he was a really entertaining speaker and had lots of interesting things to say, many of which I found really useful. Often when people think of networking they think of people trying to get to know as many people as possible who might be useful to them. I’ve certainly met people who you can see looking round the room for their next networking opportunity as they decide I’m not going to be useful to them. Sadly I’ve even experienced that here at the university. Andy argued it’s not who you know, as the old adage says, but what people know about you that counts. People don’t know whether they should get to know you until they know why they should care if they know you. He also argued that networking shouldn’t be about getting what you want from people it should be about what you put into a network. So, as we try to expand the SALTezers network, why should teaching staff across the University care if they know us in SALT? What would we like people to be saying about SALT when they talk to others? Answers on a postcard perhaps?

One impression I was left with surprised me a little. As Fellows of the LPI are made up of ‘heads of learning from some of the UK’s largest organisations, including a number of FTSE 250 organisations’, I was expecting us to be somewhat ‘behind the curve’ when It came to training, development and the use of technology in delivery and support of training. Discussions on giving everyone an iPad and the novelty of MOOCs have been taking place here for about 3 or 4 years but it seemed to be quite of the moment in the experts’ panel discussion. e-Learning/Technology Enhanced Learning in the corporate world still seems to be very much content driven and notions of learners as producers and co-authors of learning were absent from the discussions. Not that I’m saying they are necessarily absent from the corporate world just that they didn’t seem to impact on the discussion on the day. So maybe we are on the right track after all.

You can find the Storify of the day here https://storify.com/martincouzins/review-of-the-lpi-s-learning-curve-14

Now where did I put those biscuits?

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