30 articles from 2019 to take us into 2020

During 2019 I shared hundreds of links to useful articles, posts and resources but here are 30 (listed in chronological order) that I believe highlight 3 key themes for 2020.

  1. The importance of continuous and lifelong learning – and the need for every individual to take charge of their own professional self-development
  2. The new role of managers in the modern workplace – modelling new learning behaviours and coaching their team members
  3. The new work of CLOs and L&D teams – moving from delivering training to supporting a culture of continuous learning in the workplace

1 – How to create an environment of lifelong learning as the leader, Ted Billies, Chief Executive, 8 January 2019 

“Over the past several years, CEOs have begun to embrace the importance of becoming lifelong learners. Gone is the “authority figure” ideal of the past, and with it the idea that the person at an organization’s helm is a fully formed individual who simply must now take action based on years of stored knowledge. Instead, what more people are realizing, is that the best leaders consider themselves to be in a constant state of growth and development. They never stop learning”

2 – 3L’s of Self-Directed Learning, Tanmay Vora, 16 January 2019

“If I look at my own journey and connect the dots, I find three things that that forms my 3L framework for self-directed learning.”


3 – Leaders need nudges, not more management training, Kevin Kruse, Forbes, 16 January 2019  

“The power of nudges to positively influence behavior has proven to be so great that large companies, the military, and even countries have formed official “nudge units” to craft nudging strategies to accomplish organizational objectives.”

4 – How to be employable forever, Tom Vander Ark, 20 February 2019 

“Education for the innovation economy is not just about knowledge and skill, … it’s about mindset–collaborative, interdisciplinary, ethical, empathetic, entrepreneurial and global/”

Reimagining General Education Design Thinking and Intrinsic Motivation Perspectives

5 – How to show employers you have transferable skills to successfully change careers, Caroline Ceniza-Levine, Forbes, 9 March 2019

“Employers will always prioritize the candidate who has already done a similar job before over a candidate new to an industry or functional area. A career changer has no track record and therefore is a riskier hire. If you want to successfully make that career change, you have to minimize the employer’s risk. Here are five steps to show employers you have transferable skills.”

6 – 4 reasons talented employees don’t reach their potential, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, HBR, 18 March 2019 

“No matter how talented someone might be, there is no guarantee that their talents will translate into top performance. The science of human potential has generally illustrated that an individual’s overarching competence cannot be fully understood unless we also account for their emotional make-up, preferences, and dispositions. No matter how smart, knowledgeable, and experienced you are, there is generally a difference between what you can do and what you normally do.”

7 – Cultivate coachability with these 5 mindsets, Julie Winkle Giulioni, B2C, 19 March 2019

“The coach’s mindset is multifaceted; in fact, it’s actually five different mindsets, all of which are required to enhance one’s ability to help others realize their potential, perform optimally and engage in continuous learning.”

8 – Novartis: Enabling 130,000 employees to grow in an organization committed to continuous learning, DiversityInc, 27 March 2019

“We recently held our first-ever “Learning Month” across the company. Each week was dedicated to a different aspect of learning – digital, curiosity, continuous learning and taking action. At the core of the Learning Month were 70 global sessions – interactive virtual webinars with many hundreds people participating and interacting via video conferencing. The majority of these sessions were facilitated by Novartis associates, sharing their particular skills and knowledge with their colleagues.”

9 – It’s interesting to reflect on the industrial structures and bureaucratic language now adopted by many corporate ‘L&D’ teams, Paul Jocelyn, 9 April 2019

“”Learning solution”, “Learning program”, “Learning delivery plan” … This narrative reinforces a view of “learning” which is functionally structured and centrally controlled … Here are some new words which ‘L&D’ could choose to associate with instead: Opportunities, Openness, Creativity …”

10 – This is what great leadership looks like in the digital age, Apoorve Dubey, World Economic Forum, 24 April 2019

“The digital economy is driven by rapid ongoing developments. Leaders cannot take ownership of everything. A leader cannot know it all, and the top-down approach is no longer sustainable. Leaders need to empower their teams to work with autonomy and freedom, and to take decisions. Organisations need to create leaders at all levels by building participation and accountability. They need to learn from people working on the ground, take inputs and trust them. Every member of the team should be encouraged to contribute ideas, insights and knowledge for achieving shared goals.”

11 – Why we don’t take our own career advice, Jared Lindzon, Fast Company, 30 April 2019 

“We often know what’s best for ourselves but don’t do it: 76% of people believe mentors are important for their professional development, yet only 37% of people actually have a mentor.”

12 – The infantilization of the American workforce, Paul Hebert, HR Examiner, 6 May 2019

“I believe we are doing a disservice to our employees by attempting to cover ALL their needs – and thereby making sure they don’t have to be responsible for any decisions other than the few we allow within their narrow job descriptions. Think about it. Wasn’t being a child a wonderful time? Doing what you loved, all day, nothing to worry about. Not a care in the world. Just be home when the streetlights come on. Sounds a lot like today’s engagement speak, no?

13 – A to Z of Personal Development, Shyam Ramanathan, Thrive Global, 9 May 2019

“C for Continuous learning: There are two types of learning maintenance learning and shock learning. Shock learning is when something happens in your industry that disrupts your world. We need both these types of learning in the current turbulent environment. Stay connected with the experts in your field, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts, read their books, document what you have learned and share what you have learned.”

14 – If your managers aren’t engaged, your employees won’t be either, James Harter, HBR, 6 June 2019

Shifting how your company trains and supports managers, and repositioning them as coaches, is essential for helping managers to change culture. The transition from boss to coach means managers are expected to do a lot more than give orders and delegate assignments—a primary role is to develop stars through collaborative goal setting, future-oriented coaching, and achievement-oriented accountability. Moving your managers from boss to coach not only increases employee engagement and improves performance, but it’s also essential to changing your culture to align with the changing workforce – a workforce that no longer wants, nor responds to, the traditional “command and control,” top-down boss.

15 – Digital Transformation requires leadership transformation, Moritz Meißner, LinkedIn Pulse, 25 June 2019 

“The managers of tomorrow are therefore entrepreneurs. Instead of managing, they are open to new things that reveal themselves to them every day. Instead of focusing on risks, they see opportunities. When they make mistakes, they do not hide them. Mistakes help them to recognize what they can do differently and probably better next time. They are aware that they can only be successful if they break down silos and trust in their employees and partners and let them do what they can do better than they can.”

16 – AI won’t make you successful. Great managers will, Ron Thomas, TLNT, 2 July 2019

“The key strategic objective needs to be: “Build Better Leaders.” Three words that could begin the process of confronting the winds of change. Three words that if ignored, create a stalemate that will have organizations running around like bumper cars.”

17 – New frontiers in re-skilling and upskilling, Lynda Gratton, MIT Sloan Management Review Fall 2019 issue

“In the new world of work, we may not know for sure which jobs will be destroyed and what will be created, but one thing is clear: Everyone, whatever their age, will at some point have to spend time either re-skilling (learning new skills for a new position) or upskilling (learning current tasks more deeply) .. Embracing this idea requires a real sense of agency on the part of individuals. Each of us needs to be both motivated and prepared to put in the effort toward making learning a lifetime priority. That’s a good first step, but personal agency will only go so far. Individuals’ commitment to keeping up their skills to remain competitive will only work if corporations step up to make it possible.  The challenge is that old-style notions of training are far too slow and relatively expensive. They’re usually classroom based and instructor led. They’re usually focused only on current employees, ignoring potential recruits. Look around, though, and you’ll see experiments and early pilots underway. Some companies are figuring out smart ways to engage on this issue — to the advantage of both individuals and the businesses themselves.”

18 – The future of education: building a culture of learning, Associations Now, 28 June 2019  

““There needs to be a big shift away from the classroom,” says Guilbault. “Yes, there are trade skills you can pick up from a class or online course, but the real learning comes through the doing of it in the workplace. Organizations need to embrace a ‘culture of trying’ because that’s where learning accelerates.””

19 – In praise of the incurably curious leader, Douglas A Ready, MIT Sloan Management Review, 18 July 2019

“There is a growing recognition among leaders that curiosity is essential to navigating a continuously changing world … Curiosity is about searching for new possibilities. It’s about reimagining business models and exploring new ways of working. It’s about looking for creative approaches to solving the most pressing problems we face, not only as companies but also as communities. It’s about always asking why and why not, and not accepting things the way they are or have always been. It’s about having the courage to fail and not being afraid of the word failure. These leaders turn that entire notion of fearing failure on its head and build excitement in their organizations about being perpetual students — always searching for a better way forward. That is why curiosity is an enduring leader behavior and why this blog is in praise of the incurably curious.

20 – Why employees don’t share knowledge with each other, Marylène Gagné and others, HBR, 19 July 2019 

“Companies want employees to share what they know … Yet despite companies’ attempts to encourage knowledge sharing (think of those open office spaces), many employees withhold what they know — a phenomenon known as knowledge hoarding or knowledge hiding …  What leads to this parsimonious behavior? Our research found that the way jobs are designed can affect whether employees share or hide knowledge from their colleagues. Specifically, we found that more cognitively complex jobs — in which people need to process large amounts of information and solve complex problems — tended to promote more knowledge sharing, as did jobs offering more autonomy. By focusing on these aspects of work, managers can encourage employees to share more and hide less.”

21 – The art of learning side-by-side: why the way we develop is not working for our workforce, Sesil Pir, Forbes, 22 July 2019 

“Learning and developmet represents billions of dollars in investments for businesses – yet every time, I start a learning and development workshop by asking the audience a version of “Who resents being here today?” and with some encouragement, I get to meet a whole new community of peers who are able to list a long number of logical and tangible reasons as to why they dislike corporate trainings. Many share that they usually attend learning and developmental activities due to corporate mandate. Many refer to the fact that classes cover aspirational terms like equality, inclusion, diversity, balance and the concept of impact is largely thrown around; however, often, their corporate cultures are far away from embracing any of these values. Others refer to content irrelevance, pointing to shared insights being “outdated” and/or “inapplicable” on the job. Some try to calculate the return of investment in time or in output during our conversations. A few complain about being away from home, however, a large majority demonstrates a genuine interest to engage in a better future. As future leaders and organization development practitioners, should we be concerned about these observations? Absolutely.”

22 – More than re-skilling, Harold Jarche, 6 August 2019

” All of our learning is connected. Skills are not developed in isolation to the rest of our life. Professionals learn mostly from their daily work and their team members. Coaching and feedback is important, as are new opportunities. A more holistic approach than looking at individual skills would be cognitive apprenticeship which requires that supervisors model workplace behaviours. So instead of focusing on others “putting skills to action”, supervisors should model these skills in the first place.”

23 – How to become a dynamic learner, Knowledge @ Wharton, World Economic Forum, 7 August 2019

“If we can focus, if we can be fast, if we can be frequent, if we can be flexible, then we start to build our tool kit around dynamic learning.”

24 – Why a learning culture is inherently agile, Melissa Boggs, Training Zone, 20 August 2019

“In an ideal learning culture people feel rewarded for seeking continuous improvement and can do so in a safe and fearless environment. When trying to create a new culture, particularly one focused on learning, agility is key to ensuring it is flexible and empowers employees You can’t just ‘speak’ a culture into existence – as a leader you have to be the example, while also helping people in the organisation see why it’s beneficial to them.”

25 – Future of work requires leaders who value learning in the flow of life, Amy A Titus, ATD, 28 August 2019

“Effective leaders draw upon the collective knowledge of their organization, which means cultivating a sense of curiosity and creativity among the workforce and recognizing that everyone plays a leadership role in their work—whether leading themselves, leading their peers, or leading organizations. … Learning and development should not be viewed as an activity or a place where people are sent outside normal work routines. Instead, learning needs to happen in fast, iterative cycles that are fully integrated into the daily flow of work.  At Deloitte, we call this “learning in the flow of life.” Leaders who value such a practice seek opportunities to integrate real-time learning into their teams’ daily workflows. They enable workers to learn when and how they see fit and offer learning opportunities that support individuals. Learning in the flow of life can build needed skills, improve employee engagement, and help workers with short-term agility and career longevity.

26 – Mental habits that support lifelong learning, Tanmay Vora, 30 October 2019

Recently, I was re-reading John Kotter’s book “Leading Change” from HBR Press and came across a chapter dedicated to leadership and lifelong learning with a short summary of mental habits that support lifelong learning. I quickly summarized those key habits into the following #sketchnote:”


 27 – Learning is the new pension, Heather McGowan, Forbes, 29 October 2019

“In 2014, it took three days on average to close a capability gap through training in the enterprise; in 2018, it took 36 days.” How do we make these leaps to keep up? I think we need to shift our thinking about what learning is and what it means to our organizations.”

From Learning in order to work, to working in order to learn continuously

28 – Why we must share our best moves in the dance of work, Kate Cooper, Forbes, 8 November 2019

“But it’s clear that we would do far better as employers if we focused on the extent to which our staff help those around them, how much learning they impart and how much of their experience they share, so their success is unified with that enjoyed by others.”

29 – The Transformer CLO, Abbie Lundberg and George Westerman, HBR, January-February 2020 Issue

“In today’s dynamic business environment, workplace learning has become a key lever for success. And with that shift, the traditional role of the chief learning officer is changing. No longer are CLOs responsible just for training—making skills-based and compliance-oriented courses available to employees and perhaps running leadership-development programs. Instead, they’re embracing a more powerful role in which they reshape capabilities and organizational culture. We call this new type of leader the transformer CLO.

30 – What employees tell us about automation and re-skilling, Lynda Gratton, MIT Sloan Management Review, 18 December 2019

“E-learning Doesn’t Replace Personal Interaction: Training budgets are tight in most companies, and nowhere is this more evident than in low-paid work, where it can be hard to make a case for training. It’s no surprise, therefore, that efforts to re-skill the most routine jobs often focus on low-cost e-learning.  That’s fine — to a point. In our discussions, employees said they were comfortable with e-learning, describing how they already learn at home from video platforms like YouTube. (There are, for example, enormously popular online cooking channels that teach new skills.) Many embrace video tutorials, and we heard examples of people being self-taught and proud of it. But there was a general feeling that without the support of peers and managers, e-learning was just not enough.”


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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.