‘Learning Is the New Working’ is a new podcast from Chris Pirie, ex-Microsoft Chief Learning Officer and now independent investigator of The Future of Workplace Learning. A set of stimulating conversations with some of the leading thinkers and edge practitioners in the modern Workplace Learning space, from Chief Learning Officers to Learning Experience Designers, from Neuroscientists to Technologists, vendors of Learning Tech, and the HR leaders charged with developing human capital potential. Our topics are everything from the American skills crisis to our scary, but fascinating, century: how the rise of the robots, AI, employment and demographic change are re-shaping all our lives - in work and out of it. We will also explore how the process of Learning is itself changing with current and emerging technology, share war stories about which new ways of delivering Learning work, what Sales Enablement is versus what it could be, what a ‘Learning Science’ might offer… all with the ultimate aim of empowering the CLO.
‘Do we understand the outsized impact we can have on people’s lives?’ Bersin Academy co-founder Bill Pelster on the impact we can have.
With Season 6, we’ve been looking into the implications of the global pandemic on the future of work and Workplace Learning. This week we get the helpful perspective of what many people in the business say has been a quiet force for innovation over decades: HR and L&D heavy-hitter Bill Pelster. A resume that includes building major people practices at not just one but two global consultancies, as well as being the man who bought Josh Bersin into one of them, Deloitte, and who then founded that organisation’s much-envied Deloitte University outside Dallas would in itself more than justify Bill being included in any one of our on-going thematic seasons. But the rise two prominence through COVID of the new HR tech group he set up with Josh in 2019, The Bersin Academy, is what sealed the deal for us: Bill and his team have been right at the eye of the health crisis hurricane here, so we knew when he paused for breath we’d want to hear his thoughts on our central question of, From what-if to what now? So, in this very focused episode, look to hear from Bill about the steps that take you from “the nuclear side” of the Air Force to working with big companies dealing with SAP where he decided the HR side of the problem—“These darn people!” as he jokes—was more interesting than the coding, his retirement and immediate pivot to set up his shingle with Josh and why he lives in the beautiful Pacific North West, as well as: how Bersin is doing, and even growing, in the pandemic; the 10-20m professionals who either have HR or learning or talent in their job description, and why that’s huge lever for change in any organisation; what the Academy stands for (democratizing of professional development, a home for HR best practice, networking and support for conversations with peers); how the pandemic meant HR went from being part to the team to leading the team; the inter-relationship between the Academy and Josh Bersin’s ongoing research
the rising importance, even in the these crazy times, of physical spaces for effective learning; the inside story of how the Deloitte University was designed, including its out-of-city locale; the benefits from mixing up people from different disciplines he learnt from his daughter’s experiences at USC; some hints on what the Academy has planned for 2021; and much more.
We made the pivot to online, but now let’s make it great: virtual training expert Cindy Huggett
Now we’re (still) all meeting virtually, making virtual events work is a priority, but many organisations have struggled to make them work: it’s particularly an issue when we’re all fried from endless Zoom meetings anyway. This week on Learning Is The New Working, we meet someone who says they know how to fix that, and even gives us the algorithm: an interactive design, a skilled facilitator, prepared participants, equipped to learn. Sound useful to what you’re trying to do? Then check out the guidance and advice you’re about to get from virtual training consultant, facilitator, author and speaker Cindy Huggett. Cindy is convinced that virtual events can be immersive, interactive and engaging—which could also easily be our ‘review’ of this great conversation with a genuine Learning Leader. That’s our thematic season, as you will remember, where we meet new and seasoned leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, edtech, and talent leadership discipline. And it’s also an episode in Season Five that’s been kindly sponsored by the amazing team at Arist, the pioneer of text message courses that let you teach and train in bite-size chunks that learners love, and whose use cases ranging from leadership training to knowledge reinforcement. So now we’re all set up, get ready to find out about Cindy’s 29 years of professional experience that include leadership roles in global organizations, starting a non-profit focused on volunteering and community service, serving on the national ATD Board of Directors, teaching classroom trainers how to engage with remote audiences and designers how to use typical platform tools to create interactive classes, as well as: why she’s based in North Carolina; her core definition of key virtual training terms (and why they matter); why your assumptions about virtual training were pretty much all wrong pre-2020; how design thinking, interactivity, and tolerance came to the rescue; her views on change in terms of virtual training platform tech; the highlights of her unique annual survey, especially a big drop in content prep time; our new perspective on making the best use of everyone’s time; and much more.
‘Survive, Revive and Thrive:’ Air New Zealand CLO Sydney Savion
In December 2020, I was invited to host three live Learning podcasts at last year’s HR Innovation and Tech Fest (#HRTechFest), a week-long event hosted in Sydney, Australia by Hannover Fairs; I’d previously attended as an in-person delegate, and loved the energy and vibrancy of the Antipodean L&D community I interacted with, so I was more than happy to help out when asked (and can’t wait for it to go back to being real-world again later this year!). My first live podcast was with this week’s LITNW guest Dr. Sydney, GM Learning/CLO at Air New Zealand and a former chief of education strategy at Dell-EMC and Learning leader at Booz Allen Hamilton. Sydney is definitely a prime candidate for us to profile her as one of our Learning Leaders, where we meet new and seasoned leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, edtech, and talent leadership disciplines. After all, she does truly believe that “creating a true learning culture starts at the top with embracing the power of democratized learning to reshape mindsets, human capabilities, and organizational culture.” Hear hear! So in our conversation look to hear more about her personal journey, which includes being crowned CLO magazine’s Chief Learning Officer of the Year 2020 (Better Work Media Group), as well as: what it’s like when 60% of your company’s income goes away overnight
her belief in personal purpose and providence; working life in a nearly COVID-free New Zealand; the importance of her 20 years in the US Air Force on everything she does; how you crunch 7 LMSs down into one (cloud) one; how she got to her mantra of ‘survive, revive and thrive’ and what it really means; and much more.
Why EY thinks ‘purpose + vision + long-term value’ is the real purpose power equation
In 2013, Big Four consulting firm Ernst & Young, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and consulting services, rebranded as ‘EY.’ What maybe few of us picked up on at the time was that part of that rebrand made an explicit Purpose statement front and center: ‘Building a better working world.’ But in this, our latest ‘Is Purpose Working?’ season in collaboration with RedThread Research sponsored by edtech leader NovoEd, that was actually a hugely important internal cultural shift and pivot for the company: “By everyone knowing our purpose statement, it creates a golden thread--so no matter where you are in the world, what culture you have, whether you're a new employee or a tenured employee, what service line you're in and what work you do you come to work to do every day, we are all connected by the fact that we are all building a better working world.” Join us, then, for a deep-dive into why this global service leader adopted Purpose and how it’s helping, as well as the critical role it sees L&D in that pivot, framed as a key role in helping people become performers, colleagues, leaders—and people. Helping us understand are two excellent speakers, Tal Goldhamer, Partner and Chief Learning Officer - Americas, EY, and his colleague Jeff Stier, EY Americas Consulting Purpose & Vision Realized Leader. As ever, our investigation is aided and sharpened up by the participation of RedThread, this time Stacia flying solo: and it’s a genuinely fascinating and at times moving and personal exploration, featuring a 6th Century CE Anglo-Saxon poem, as well as: EY’s in the unique position to bring the power of a large firm to support our people on their personal journey of discovering their individual talent that they develop for themselves, their teams, their clients, their communities, and for the world ; details of how EY individuals have found Purpose through internal, L&D-led, Purpose programs ; an intriguing new concept in our Purpose journey—the idea of nested Purpose ; why the guys believe that personal purpose and personal vision and organizational purpose are part of what gives daily meaning to the work that you do daily ; how, if you want to be an organization that claims to be purpose- and vision-led, you need to be led by leaders who themselves are purpose- and vision-led—which means developing a platform and program around personal purpose and vision ; and so much more.
“Purpose always comes out strongest when there's a moment of strife:” IDEO U’s Suzanne Gibbs Howard
First there was IDEO, an award-winning global design firm that decided to take a human-centered, design-based approach to help organisations innovate and grow; you may or may not have encountered its unique approach if you’ve ever interacted with the Stanford d.school. And then, in 2014, along came IDEO U (University), an online school promising to equip learners with the skills, mindsets, and tools to help us stay relevant and adaptive in our modern world. Just on its own, IDEO U would so be worth us looking at it as an example of successful online L&D, as it’s served over 50,000 learners in 100 countries, spawning a community connecting over 200,000 change makers bringing increased creativity, innovation, and modern leadership into their work. But we know that driving principle at IDEO is Design Thinking, which its chair Tim Brown says we should see as “a human-centered approach to innovation” that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success… so what is the connection, if any, between Design Thinking and Purpose? What role does Purpose play in what Suzanne’s been trying to do this past bumpy year of COVID as Managing Partner of that part of IDEO? Given that the organization specifically offers a Power of Purpose course (“A clear purpose guides people through change and motivates them to lead from wherever they are”), we knew we needed to know more. So this week, in one of our final (but not final final!) episodes in our ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Odyssey we meet the latter’s Founder and Dean, Suzanne Gibbs Howard to try and find out. Her work at IDEO U caps a pretty amazing (she’ll tell more of a “crooked path:” we think you’ll disagree) personal and professional journey that involved Anthropology and associated field work, as well as a dip into divinity school, usability and lengthy spells in China and Africa. We learn about that, as well as: why she ended up in that beautiful city by the Bay called San Francisco; how IDEO interprets Purpose—as a way of helping align people toward what's next for them; how our common tough 2020 brought Purpose to the surface for many people struggling to “keep pushing forward;" the role of Learning as a way to spark the engagement that’s the necessary precursor to successful, Purpose-driven engagement; why L&D needs to be a lot more than “just MOOCs and talking heads” from now on; and so much more.
Can even venture capitalists have Purpose? The answer will surprise you
Does Purpose help the bottom line? It’s a fair question, surely—maybe, ultimately, the best question we can really ask ourselves in business as the idea of a move away from purely shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism takes off. And while we do need to ask CEOs of Purpose-driven companies that question, perhaps the ideal community to seek a hard-nosed answer here is the VC (venture capitalist) world, for whom the conditio sine qua non of an investment has to be that it will pay back, at multiples. Luckily for us on Season 7 and all our now fast-interlocking conversations on our central question of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ is that today, we have the definitive answer: yes—in fact, it’s actually only the companies that have Purpose that end up with strong cultures and stronger outcomes. There’s a lot to take in to see why our guest, Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner at GSV Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund investing in education and workforce technology entrepreneurs, is so convinced of that fact, but we hope we have intrigued you enough to listen in to see her logic and proof… but it’s also just such a pleasure to listen to the fusion of a deeply ethical mindset and razor-sharp thinking Deborah brings to her job. Just one example among many: her rhetorical question about why she does what she does: Is it more fun to go call on a company making breakfast cereal, or on a company that’s really trying to change people’s lives meaningfully? Deborah and her team have been active for many years disrupting the $6 trillion education technology sector, having helped amazing names like ClassDojo, Degreed, and RaiseMe, among many others, get out of the lab. Equally important to her, as you’re about to hear, is her work on the annual ASU GSV Summit: now in its 11th year, the Summit celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “preK to Gray” learning and talent landscape and this COVID, virtual year attracted a quite staggering 33,000 online attendees. So tune in now to hear how this predominantly Chicago-based ed tech sector investment ninja has been putting ‘Purpose’ as one of the ‘5 Ps’ a startup has to have before she even looks at them. Before we get started, two callouts are needed: one, to our on-going Season 7 partners, Dani and Stacia over at Purpose-driven HR advisory group RedThread Research, and most especially to our Season sponsors, ed tech luminaries NovoEd, who are just as keen as we are to find an answer to ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Don’t forget that in early 2021, the issues Deborah raises today will be under the microscope in our planned special live, online gated experience, where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7. If you doubt that Purpose is good for capitalism, then make sure you can get in your two cents about it by locking-in your free place at the webinar. How can I do that, Chris? I hear you say. It’s easy: click on over to the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. All done? Great—so let’s hear about VC money, Purpose, diversity and what a VC does, as well as: how Deborah sees a coming together of all parts of Education and workplace training; the emergence of knowledge as a ‘currency’; why what GSV does is not the same as what an impact fund tries to do; that significant 2019 Business Round Table statement… are we actually seeing enough action by companies? How Learning is starting (at last?) to be seen as an important weapon by corporate leaders to improve overall outcomes; her conviction that exponential growth in an ed tech company will come not just through great technology, but through diverse teams; what inspired her to get into the ed tech area; and much more.
Absolutely brilliant, I have subscribed and sent to my colleagues. Fascinating
Insight, depth & passion
A fantastic podcast that provides incredible insight into the different learning practices, going into real depth on a broad spectrum of issues. Highly relatable and comparable to a range of situations. Passion and knowledge from presenters and guests make it great listening.
Refreshing and helpful
Helpful and refreshing to hear Raj Kumar of Devex, his insights in the business of development, and its struggle to learn new ways of being useful