Jane Hart’s Pick of the Year

Here are my 30 favourite posts and articles that I featured in the MWL Newsletter in 2018 – listed in CHRONOLOGICAL order. I think you will quickly identify the common theme running through them all.

1 – Embracing L&D’s evolving role: Less control, more influence  Dani Johnson and Jen Stempel, Deloitte, 2 January 2018

“the research indicates that the majority of employee development is not under the direct influence of the L&D department. In fact, most of it is cultural and systemic in nature, leaving many of the more tactical, traditional practices of L&D less impactful than they may have been in the past .. This finding necessitates a shift on the part of L&D organizations; in the future they will find themselves moving from being doers and keepers of learning to stewards and influencers.”

2 – Why education is a terrible model for Learning  Nick Shackleton Jones, 1 February 2018

“Education is a terrible model for learning, and even worse model for performance. The good news is that this is all starting to fall apart. The bad news is that many education people don’t know what else to do, and many corporate learning people are still trying to educate.”

3 – Is the Learning & Development bubble about to burst  Lizzie Rhodes James, 14 February 2018

“The L & D industry and profession is in an identity crisis. This is the time to recognise that, and take steps to change, not bury your head in the sand. Like all other parts of the business, where people and their roles are continually evolving, it feels like L & D has stuck in the frying pan of evolution. Don’t get me wrong, there are professionals and organisations who do seem to get the fact that L & D is there to support the development of high performance, productivity and prosperity, but it doesn’t seem to be the common language yet.”

4 – People Development: Stop Spending; Start Thinking  Gabor Holch, CLO Magazine, 20 February 2018

“At each year-end, managers decide where they will invest funds allocated to elevating employees to their next level of success. Choices are tough: One mistake and you can lose both your bonus and some of next year’s budget. They are made harder by the proliferation of products, methodologies and gimmicks that claim to be “the next revolution” in corporate learning. Under pressure to perform, HR often follows the best marketing. The cycle restarts the following year.”

5 – 5 unique ways to create a culture of continuous learning Marissa Levin, May 2018

“Employees today expect employers to provide opportunities for continuous education. According to Harvard Business Research, workers across every generation, from boomers to Gen Z, state “becoming an expert in my field” as one of the requirements for employment”.

6 – What we learned from reading 1,000 articles on lifelong learning  Steve Rayson, Anders Pink, May 2018

” we reviewed the top 1,000 most shared articles on continuous learning to see what we could learn. The articles ranged from high level research reports by leading consultancies through to advice for specific professionals from College Principals to Musicians to Developers. Here are our top 20 takeaways from the research.”

7 – Three Ways Learning And Development Specialists Can Make Themselves More Useful To Leaders  Roger Trapp, Forbes, 15 May 2018

“The Harvard Business Publishing report’s authors say that to succeed in becoming “an adaptable, strategic function primed to move the needle for their businesses”, a learning and development team needs to focus on three key areas. Basing their findings on research carried out late last year among more than 700 learning and development specialists and line managers, they add that learning organizations that reshape themselves along these lines will be best-positioned to deliver development and guidance that will help their organizations capitalize on the opportunities of transformation—and break through the barriers along the way”

8 – Evolving learning strategies to keep pace with the modern workforce  Shelley Usborne, Training Journal, 6 June 2018

“It’s time for L&D and HR professionals to promote the value of continuous learning and move their teams away from the static programs that helped to breed the bad reputation of corporate training.”

9 – Successful Companies Will Be Those That Embrace the New Employee Economy  Lindsay Witcher, Talent Management & HR, 7 June 2018

“Employees are thinking differently too. They view their jobs as opportunities to pursue their passions, experience professional growth, gain new experiences, and expand their networks. Individuals want to learn and grow and are willing to leave if they think they’ll learn more, or find more opportunities, somewhere else. One survey found 70% of employees say job related training and development opportunities — or lack thereof — impacted their decision to stay at their job.”

10 –  How to attract continuous learners and keep them engaged  Jesper Bendtsen, Globe and Mail, 21 June 2018

“Companies don’t always walk the talk on this one. On the one hand, they fill their ranks with continuous learners so that the fundamental pace of learning within the firm will be effortlessly fast. On the other hand, they don’t create workplaces that allow the organization to capture learning, share it and act upon it in a coordinated way.”

11 – 4 Ways to Create a Learning Culture on Your Team  Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Josh Bersin, Harvard Business Review, 12 July 2018 

“As a result, there is now a premium on intellectual curiosity and learnability, the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill set to remain employable. What you know is less relevant than what you may learn, and knowing the answer to questions is less critical than having the ability to ask the right questions in the first place. Unsurprisingly, employers such as Google, American Express, and Bridgewater Associates make learning an integral part of their talent management systems. “

12 – Learn, unlearn and relearn: Future-proofing your workforce  Human Resources, 13 July 2018

“In view of the continuous rapid changes as the norm, we have specifically called the upskilling programme ‘FutureReady’ because our staff will need to be prepared continuously learn new skills on their own,” she said. “Our vision is to have proactive learners who are continuously keeping themselves equipped and updated to be innovative and competitive.”

13 –  7 ways to foster a culture of learning in IT  Carla Rudder, The Enterprisers Project, 19 July 2018

“A recent report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services underscores the value of continuous learning – and what IT leaders can do to make it part of their organization’s culture. “CIOs who are serious about transformation are building a learning culture, and a lot of learning comes from trying things that don’t work out,” the report states. In light of the report’s findings, we asked IT and business leaders to share the ways they are providing on-the-job learning opportunities and encouraging team members to take advantage of them. Read on for seven ideas to make learning interesting, fun, and a priority for everyone in the organization.”

14 –14 Low-Cost Training Initiatives Every Organization Should Employ  Forbes Human Resources Council, Forbes, 27 July 2018

“Corporate training remains an essential component of any business’ overall strategy, as it helps ensure employees are constantly engaged and feel like they are growing within the organization. Yet, as a small business or young department, you may not have the funds available to make this learning happen for your employees. You do have some options when it comes to providing internal development for your team that fits within your operational budget. There are a variety of low-cost (or even free) educational development initiatives that your business can take advantage of and provide for your employees.”

15 – How to become an HR trendsetter  Richard Justenhoven, HR Zone, 20 July 2018

“To truly differentiate your HR practice, it’s not enough to just read about new HR developments in the media. If something is being written about, then others will already be doing it. To get ahead of the pack, you need to consider what developments are noteworthy and what impact they could have on the management of people in your organisation. When you think something will have a positive impact, find a way to trial it. If you can do your own research and your own pilot testing, you could be adopting the ‘next trend’ before others have even heard about it. You’ll then be reaping the rewards while others are playing catch up.”

16 – Selling Solutions Isn’t Enough  Hannah Grove, Kevin Sellers, Richard Ettenson, and Jonathan Knowles, MIT Sloan Management Review, 1 August 2018

“The word solution needs to be retired from the business vocabulary. What was once a meaningful, buyer-defined term that meant “the answer to my specific problem” is now generic jargon that sellers have co-opted to mean “the bundle of products and services I want to sell you.”

17 – If you have to force people to train, you’re doing it wrong  DisruptHR, 15 August 2018

“We’ve dehumanized learning,” Clint Clarkson declares. “We have taken one of the most natural and exciting human processes, second probably only to our senses, and we have ripped the life right out of it.”

18 – L&D’s Last Mile Problem  Mark Britz, The Simple Shift, 16 August 2018

“Just like Amazon will wipe out convenience stores, technology like voice, chat, and enterprise social will continue to pressure the course factory model of L&D. Tech has a knack for cutting out the “middle man” and since L&D sits between expertise and novice or knowing and unknowing, the need now is to carve more channels not create more content. L&D must get involved or get out of the way.”

19 – The magic circle of corporate L&D  Paul Jocelyn, Work is Learning, 10 August 2018

There is a familiar cycle for the way that many L&D teams operate in corporate organisations. The common recipe includes:
1. The organisation hasn’t defined the role and priority of ‘learning’; (i.e. to accelerate change, move the work culture, improve individual and team performance, enable the business strategy)
2. The L&D team (who are unable to influence the’Why?’) get stuck as reactive training order takers
3. Ideas get watered down through rounds of ‘pleasing the teacher’ meetings resulting in ‘Learning programs’ and ‘Learning solutions’; (interchangeable words for ease of political passage)
4. ‘Learning programs’ are a drain on time / costs / interest for everyone; (especially for ‘busy people’ on the ‘front line’ doing the ‘real work’)
5. Measurement of benefits from ‘Learning programs’ is difficult / negligible / hard to keep people’s attention on
6. As the work performance improvements weren’t clearly defined, leaders don’t take any collective responsibility
7. ‘L&D’ (the “experts”) take the blame. (But round we go again)

20 – Lifelong learning in unexpected places  Amanda Baker, Scientific American, 5 September 2018

“That kind of embrace of lifelong learning … thrives on the idea that learning takes place everywhere and opportunities come in embracing effort, failure, changing expectations, and asking people for help.”

21 – This is what I believe about learning in organizations  Stephen J Gill, The Performance Improvement Blog, 14 September 2018

“The Purpose of Business is Learning

Yes, the purpose of business is to make a profit, retain customers, be sustainable, satisfy shareholders, and, for some, make a difference in the community. But none of this is possible without learning. At its core, any high performing organization is about learning; continually using new information to become smarter, better, and more effective.”

22 – Continuous learning for collaboration  Harold Jarche, 25 September 2018

“One of the primary reasons to promote learning at work is because it is directly linked to innovation … Insights lead to innovation, which is not so much about having ideas as it is about connecting and nurturing ideas. When we remove artificial boundaries, we enable innovation. In complex situations, where various people are working on similar problems, it is important to know who has done what. The challenge for distributed teams and organizations is to find ways of understanding what is happening throughout the system and ensuring it is communicated within the network.”

23 – When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees — and When They Shouldn’t  Ron Carucci, HBR, 29 October 2018

“Training is useful at times but often fails, especially  when it is used to address problems that it can’t actually solve … Many well-intended leaders view training as a panacea to obvious learning opportunities or behavioral problems … Learning is a consequence of thinking, not teaching. It happens when people reflect on and choose a new behavior. But if the work environment doesn’t support that behavior, a well-trained employee won’t make a difference.”

24 – Want Digital Transformation? Encourage Continuous Learning For All Employees  Daniel Newman, Forbes, 30 October 2018

“Allowing new experiences gives your team the benefit of new feedback and the ability to try new things. Change is frightening, especially for someone who feels comfortable in their current position. However, during the digital transformation, comfort will need to take a back seat to innovation. You must prepare your workforce by being an example and making education a part of the job, not just something to further ignore.”

25 – Today’s Learning Agenda Exposed  Tamar Elkeles, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, 19 November 2018

“We don’t “own” learning or employee development. The employer-employee relationship has changed and so must our learning and talent organizations. We are facilitators of knowledge and information sharing across the organization but we cannot even begin to manage the massive amount of information or content that our employees seek or receive. There’s too much input to manage today.”

26 – How To Make Learning A Habit You Enjoy  Liz Guthridge, Forbes, 21 November 2018

“Adult learners don’t have to sit in uncomfortable chairs with heavy textbooks and notebooks piled on their desks. Nor do adult learners have to sign up for monotonous online courses featuring videos of talking heads. You give yourself the permission and flexibility to integrate learning into your day as you see fit. And you’ll discover that learning doesn’t have to be a discrete activity that begins when a bell rings or a deadline looms. Instead, learning is more like a regular exercise routine you voluntarily do on your time schedule.”

27 – Reskilling future workers: who’s responsible? Nick Eason, Raconteur, 4 December 2018

“So who’s responsible for the skills reboot? Government, individuals, industry and businesses all must play a part in a successful transition into new, yet to be developed, jobs. Our workplace ecosystem will also need to pull together to make employment function properly in the rapidly digitalised global economy.”

28 – To survive a digital future guide, guide employees to own their own learning  Riia O’Donnell, HR Dive, 4 December 2018

“The market will leave behind those who think continuous learning is an option rather than a necessity. For businesses that don’t stress the need for upskilling, and employees who don’t heed that warning, current projections show that almost every type of job could be replaced by the digital revolution. Getting employees to take ownership of their own learning and growth is critical to future-proof them and their employers.”

29 – L&D Pain Points That Keep Executives Up at Night  Clark Quinn, Learning Solutions, 7 December 2018

“L&D has to walk the walk and make it work internally. You’ll get better buy-in if you demonstrate with your own team. You’ll also develop the skills you need to use with other folks. Change the nature of L&D practices internally; then sell them outward to the organization. Become innovative and share the innovations. Work, and learn, out loud. Turn L&D into a core contributor.”

30 – The threat and opportunity of lifelong learning  John Hagel, Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, 21 December 2018

“Sure, we can try to motivate people through fear with the message that, if they don’t sustain their learning efforts, they’ll be increasingly marginalized. Good luck with that. They might invest some effort out of fear, but they’ll never invest the level of effort required to truly excel at learning. Lifelong learning becomes a threat and they’ll be reluctant and resentful.

Yes, we all will need to embrace lifelong learning as a prerequisite for sustained success in a world of mounting performance pressure. But, we’re going to need to embrace it as an exciting opportunity rather than as a burden or threat. To do that, we’re going to need to commit to discover and cultivate the passion of the explorer that resides within all of us and to find ways to integrate that passion into our work.”


The theme is clear: continuous lifelong learner is now an imperative for everyone, and the new work of L&D is to enable and support it in the organisation – not just through continually training their people, but by building independent modern lifelong learners. SO how can they do this? This is the focus of my recent work.

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2020 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a modern Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.