‘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.
‘We really need to invest right now in human skills:’ our Purpose exploration continues, with Aaron Hurst
Purpose has become more and more a key concept for modern organizations: type ‘Purpose in American business’ into Google, and you’ll get 1,740,000,000 responses, for example. But how real is it? Is it the same as CSR, or giving corporate money to a good cause? And, crucially, what’s its connection—if any—to L&D? On this special new Season on the podcast, we’re attempting to answer these and other questions about Purpose under the rubric, ‘Is Purpose Working?’ As you may know by now, we’re doing this with the help of RedThread Research and with the welcome support of an ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd, a developer of a collaborative online learning platform that builds high-value capabilities that result in real impact. In this second conversation in our researches, I am delighted to be joined by RedThread principal analyst Stacia Garr. Stacia proves invaluable in us both teasing out insight from someone who just might be the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfillment at work: consultant, VC, social entrepreneur and Seattle-based Purpose influencer Aaron Hurst. In 2014, his book ‘The Purpose Economy’ brought widespread attention to the concept of Purpose and its importance for our lives today (for me especially). Now CEO and co-founder of Imperative, a platform that connects and supports employees as peer career coaches, Aaron describes how his new venture enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that drive mindset and behavior changes that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment. It’s work that caps his famous stint as the founder of pro bono volunteer channel The Taproot Foundation, which connects talented people with non-profits—and, we hear, connects him and one of the other people on the podcast! Finally, a reminder that all this ‘Is Purpose Working?’ work is set to peak in a live, online gated experience where Dani, Stacia and I will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Aaron. Be assured you will also be able to debate with us and get your question asked—but to get your questions in nice and early, lock-in your free place at the webinar over at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. Now let’s go, and be sure to stick around for a quick three-way debate on what Aaron told us at the end. So now, let’s hear from someone you might style the Father of Purpose, debating such key milestones of his career and thinking as: how he ended up in Seattle after ‘something of a nomadic career;' why the non-profit world he started working in frustrated him—and what he did about it; why Taproot was just a vitamin, not real nutrition; why he wrote 'The Purpose Economy' and how he’s convinced we’re in a whole new economic era fuelled by ‘meaning;' what last year’s Business Roundtable commitment to Purpose did for a lot of CEOs; and much more.
Is Purpose Working? A special Learning Futures Group-RedThread Research exploration
Back in August 2019, the Business Roundtable—an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies—said that the Purpose of American business was no longer to maximise shareholder value but to instead promote an economy that ‘serves all Americans.’ “CEOs work to generate profits and return value to shareholders, but the best-run companies do more,” stated one Roundtable member, Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation. “They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.” A lot’s happened since then, as we all know, but multiple events over the first few months of Lockdown seems to bear out the idea that Purpose really has become front of mind for many corporations right now. So we decided to find out more—and in this special new Season on the podcast, that’s what we’ll be doing: answering (if we can) the key question, Is Purpose Working? We’re joined on our journey by the super-smart ladies of RedThread Research, who have kicked off an in-depth, on-going probe into Purpose in parallel to our show. And even better, we’re being supported by a great ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd. Global enterprises rely on its collaborative online learning platform to build high-value capabilities that result in real impact, with its customers working to deliver powerful, engaging learning that activates deep skill development, from leadership to design thinking and digital transformation, as well as driving measurable business outcomes. It’s also well worth knowing that the Season culminates in a live online gated experience where I will be debate all the Learnings from the Season with RedThread, and you will be able to debate with us the implications and ask your questions and get your comments heard. Secure your free place at that today, over at www.novoed.com/purpose... then listen in to this scene setter, where I and Lead ‘Threadhead’ Stacia Sherman Garr set some goals and identify core Purpose topics, such as: why ‘Why we do what we do’ seems to be the best definition of Purpose we’ve found
why ‘cause’ isn’t the same as Purpose; why HR needs to get more involved when it comes to Purpose; some hints on some of the amazing writers, thinkers, venture capitalists and stakeholders coming on the Season; why are people coming together to work? the need to look at all the axes Purpose affects—leadership, people and systems; a new concept: the stake-giver; a quick progress report on RedThread’s ongoing Purpose research exercise; what Purpose in a Pandemic looks like; and much more.
‘Culture is a verb, not a noun:’ a sit down with L&D influencer Melissa Daimler
Founder & Principal of boutique HR consulting firm Daimler Partners, Melissa Daimler has always said that if you do it right, work is the best learning lab you could possibly want. She’s certainly done her best to make that maxim work for her: we’re talking about a career that started with Psychology at college to setting up Adobe’s entire L&D practice to experiencing Twitter grow from 400 to 4000 staff in her four years there. With WeWork also on her curriculum vitae, you know you’re dealing with a major player—so how refreshing to find out in person Melissa is down to Earth, great fun, whip-smart but still very much looking to keep learning. She is a perfect interview for this next episode in our on-going COVID-19 mini-Season ‘From What-If To What Now?’ where we’re exploring what the massive change rippling through the worlds of Work and Learning looks like at ground level. Oh, and last but absolutely not least: our episode is sponsored by by the great guys over at genuinely innovative SMS-based learning innovators Arist (www.arist.co), who’re working 24x7 helping brands and non-profits alike create and launch amazing text message courses in minutes, not days. So sit back or get the New Balance on with us for an hour as we review her singular professional journey, talk about how COVID may or may not be permanently changing the work culture of her adopted home, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, see what systems thinking can offer the L&D practitioner, as well as: why a certain dot com bubble helped her choose her forever home… which she still loves despite having to keep checking the air quality index; what it’s like to work at a place that got a tad too excited about a big market cap; what she thinks ‘culture’ really is; how are all good L&D practitioners know everything’s interconnected already; how the Pandemic is showing the best leaders asking such good questions of themselves, their execs but most importantly, their teams; why we must work out a way to get back the office experience (and that isn’t just the amazing donuts at Twitter); where her personal sense of purpose and inspiration comes from; and much more.
Is coding the new typing?
Time was, the biggest L&D brand was a long-vanished enterprise called the Katherine Gibbs school. What it taught: the hugely in-demand skill of working the world’s most valuable piece of information technology, the manual typewriter—a technology that hit its peak in 1975 with the Smith Corona Super 5-Series portable electric typewriters, famed for being quiet, efficient, and fast. But 1975, as we hear in this latest episode in ‘Season Eight,' where we’re ‘Connecting The Dots’ to form a picture of what we’ve learned in 18 months of our investigation into the future of Workplace Learning, was also the year that the company behind that awesome machine and the subject of all the hard training at the Gibbs schools went bust. 1975 was also the year two kids surnamed Gates and Allen teamed up to start a company called Microsoft, that 6 years later would release its first ever stab at word processing software. So in this episode, it’s a lot of déjà vu; we replay how some once-invisible industries crumble, how once-ubiquitous careers (membership in the company typing pool) can vanish, and how skills that once seemed really worth learning (transcription and stenography) can become worthless almost overnight. Along the way, we meet some interesting historical characters, but end with a really challenging proposition: what if we’re seeing very similar patterns, where we’re teaching stuff that in a few short years no-one will need to know… and we might be calling it computer programming right now?
Why you need to start loving problems—not your (ha ha) ‘solutions' for them
Here’s a question that’s fascinated me my entire professional life: How might technology change the future of Learning and Work? But actually, as I finally figured out only a couple of years back, the more important is WHY technology change the future of Learning and Work. That insight is what eventually led me to set up both The Learning Futures Group and this podcast, which has now hit over 50 episodes in just over a year. And what I’ve Learned in that journey is what I am starting to try and feed back to you guys in this special season of the podcast, which is where I am trying to ‘Connect The Dots’ and map out some provisional findings from my conversations with CLOs, edtech pioneers, Learning Scientists and thinkers out there. In this second episode in the run, I return to what sparked my personal journey—the arrival of Microsoft’s third CEO into my life—as well as relevant soundbites from just a few of the great people we’ve met so far. So, welcome (or welcome back) to ‘Season Eight:' with an overall theme of ‘Connecting The Dots,’ our aim is to move slightly away from our interview format to a more ‘radio feature’ audio style, where we are pulling together insights gained from all of our conversations and research to scope out what L&D needs to do to catch up with Our New Normal, starting with: another stimulating clip from super-inspirational MS’s Satya Nadella on why he led the charge to move from a ‘Know-it-all’ to a ‘Learn-it-all’ culture (and why that freaked me out!); what some of our podcast guests are worried about; a scary look into a workless world, which is already here for a big part of young Humanity (hint: William Gibson—The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed); and much more.
A Commitment To True Cultural and Cognitive Diversity: Fernando Sanchez-Arias, CLICK Institute
Way back in 2019, we started this fifth season of the podcast, ‘Learning Leaders,’ with a commitment to let you hear from Learning Leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, EdTech, and talent leadership disciplines. The program was originally initiated in collaboration with The Learning Leaders Conference, and some episodes were recorded onsite at the 2019 conference in Washington DC Watch this space for more details; this is one, though we haven’t featured a chat done this way for some time. We have a great return episode, though: Fernando Sanchez-Arias, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Talent Development (ATD) but who is now powering away at a Washington, DC-based think tank for research and education on culture, leadership, innovation, connection, and knowledge he set up called the CLICK (Culture, Leadership, Innovation, Connection, and Knowledge) Institute. When we spoke last year, Sr Sanchez-Arias was Head of Learning, Cultural Diversity, and Innovation at the body after being Chief People Officer; now he is now the organisation’s pro bono Co-Chair of the Advisory and Academic Councils. It was great to talk to Fernando last year, and it’s wonderful to be able to share this with you now. I am also delighted to say this is another episode in the Season sponsored by our friends at The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR leaders and which is being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace. It’s a great project, and I hope you have time to join us—but first, let’s hear from Fernando and his current schedule of splitting his time between D.C. and a ‘beautiful, green’ planned community in North Houston, as well as: his personal journey from studying business in Venezuela to Texas via Belgium, via time in armed forces, oil &gas and academic contexts that’s included many great milestones—including his years leveraging Learning as a way of building Trust with the world’s largest home improvement firm, Home Depot (which we dive right into!); his deep interest in multi-disciplinary approaches combined with a primary alliance to data, research and the science wherever possible; the way he’s pursuing the Lifelong Learning pathway, including an on-going Micro Master program; the aims and tactics of the CLICK Institute and the international network he’s rapidly building with it; the five ‘diseases’ that ‘kill’ innovation; the mentors who challenged him to leave his original love, business administration, to this world; and much more.