#cipdLDShow overview – my four major observations

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the #cipdLDShow as part of the CIPD Blog squad and I found the whole event really interesting, insightful and actually quite reassuring.

You can catch up on some of my session overview pieces here, here and here.

I’m not the obvious choice to blog on l&d content. Although my work history has taken in its fair share of l&d activities, my career has followed more of a HR generalist path, but I felt this allowed me to approach many of the sessions at the conference without any preconceived ideas about the subject matter.

“Working” at an event like this allows for almost total immersion; I attended speaker sessions, talks in the exhibition hall, I spoke with event delegates, I had chats and grabbed selfie’s with exhibitors, I saw a live podcast recording and I listened as influential HR leaders were interviewed by the HR press. I was also able to casually and informally reflect on what I was experiencing with others on the blog squad, as well as staff at CIPD and some of the speakers in some of the ‘behind the scene’s’ areas.

The following are some key take-aways that I learned from the conference that I believe are important for me to share;-

L&D folk are talking about using evidence and being evidence-based

You know I’m a sucker for evidence and so to hear businesses talk about evidence that they are using, and to hear them talk about the fact that they are making a conscious effort to define the problems they want/need to solve, was music to my ears. Granted this may not be ‘evidence-based’ in the way that is defined by CEBMa though the inclusion of scientific research or conscious aggregation, but I heard lots of talk about using data, about stakeholder engagement (research) and academic collaboration, all of which were positive signs and steps.

Businesses are doing lots of great things with modest budgets.

Technology (more on that in the next point) has allowed businesses to stretch their budgets. Santander talked about their desire to produce professional content using those with entertainment industry skills as opposed traditional l&d skills, and whilst theirs would likely be considered a budget more than ‘modest’, others in the room were doing similar things but on a smaller scale.

One attendee, who is employed by a charity, explained how they had purchased a high quality camera and recording equipment to produce their own l&d content. They explained to me how this equipment wasn’t cheap but dramatically cheaper than it used to be and as such they had made the purchase as an investment in order to be self-sufficient, so that they could design and produce content that was relevant to them and their industry. This resourceful attitude, demonstrated that budget needn’t be a barrier to achieving really great things, and that being creative was key.

Learning technology talk is rife

A common theme across the sessions and the exhibition floor was that of learning technology. A very competitive market has resulted in lots of learning technology becoming available, far ranging in terms of quality, ability and price.

What was more interesting to me however was that the discussion about tech use appears to have shifted from ‘Our LMS can help us to deliver X’ to ‘We wanted to do X and so we found an LMS that could support with that’. It’s subtle, but this is about being learner and content led, than shoehorning the content that the business needs into whatever LMS the org already has in place, ultimately with UX in mind. More affordable tech means that l&d folk were willing to drop what they had and replace with something more suited to them, which was almost unthinkable in years gone by due the high price of the tech being purchased from the outset.

Performance in the context of business, not l&d, was front and centre

‘Performance’ meant different things to different people but it was generally accepted as a decent focus for the l&d community in future. This was not about performance of the l&d function, although there was some discussion about that. This was about business performance and how l&d can support, drive and enable improved business results. As a generalist HR/OD operator, I loved the fact that this felt to have had some sort of centre stage at this conference because in my view, it continues to bring the HR/L&D/OD/Change agenda, closer together. See my views on that here.

I enjoyed my experience and I wouldn’t think twice about attending again in future. Thank you to the CIPD for having me, and my fellow blogsquadders for making it such a fun experience.

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