TED, Seth, L&D and me…

This past weekend I attended TEDx Brisbane as a participant.  It was totally, wonderfully gobsmacking!  Imagine about 500 like-minded people listening to truly creative, innovative and inspirational stories.  It was priceless.

As I sat in the audience with the lights down, watching and listening to the speaker on the stage, I took a moment to look at the audience.  Everyone was completely focused on the speaker (even those that were tweeting the event!).  The participants really wanted to be there (attendance was by application and I heard there were around 1000 people on the waiting list) and were eager to connect with the content and the speaker.

As a L&D person, I was struck by the engagement of the audience and pondered how this might transfer to the workplace where participants in a learning session really, really wanted to be there because they were interested in the content and being part of a tribe.

I then thought about the latest Seth Godin manifesto I have just finished reading.  It’s called “We Are All Weird” and basically it questions marketing to the mass because the mass are diminishing and the weird are getting stronger.  So, marketing today needs to provide goods and services to the weird based on their needs rather than develop a standard, one size fits all product for the mass market.

This is equally true for learning and development in organisations.  The idea of creating a learning program for all employees (the mass market idea) doesn’t work anymore.  We no  longer work in factories where everyone does essentially the same thing and probably thinks the same thing.  Now, people connect with a tribe (another Seth idea) based on interests and each tribe requires different products/services and has different needs.

So, my idea for L&D is to develop tribal based learning support within organisations. This can be done by identifying the different tribes in your organisation (yes, you will need to go and out and talk with people) and then provide learning based on the needs of each tribe.  It doesn’t have to be a set program, it can simply be a resource (ie a blog) or a network (ie a similar tribe in another organisation) or an external experience (attendance at a conference like TEDx and suggested to me during a discussion with the HRockstar)  If you build it this way…they will come.

Learning needs to specifically matched to each tribe, informal and highly organic. In the 21st century it’s about capability, communication and collaboration.  The role of the L&D specialist needs to change or we will end up like the bookstores – taken over by the online world and out of business.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. aussienakedleader
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 07:29:31

    Great blog! Learning has always been so much easier when we are with like minded people or we are naturally aligned with he topic or content. Google know this and they customise the search based on our input and preferences. If we can align learning to people instead of forcing people into line to learn, how much more successful will it be?


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