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Learning Transformation Beyond COVID-19

May 11, 2021
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Michelle Ockers

“What happens after COVID-19 needs to be more significant than what happened during”

Michelle Ockers, Director of Learning Uncut

I’ve been issuing a rallying cry for change in learning and development over recent months.  Carpe Diem!  I’ve urged learning leaders to seize the opportunities amidst disruption and press on with learning transformation.  The barriers to change have dropped.  Organisations have embraced the virtual world.  Cultural resistance to new approaches lowered as people adapted to new work practices.  Digital adoption took a massive leap forward.  This was as true for learning professionals as any others.

Regardless of their starting point, learning teams made significant shifts during the pandemic.  For some the shifts were more a matter of scale than substance.  They had already undergone transformation.  They were ready to enable learning in a digital world.  For others it was the burning platform that gave them the opportunity to act on their aspirations.  Some scrambled, backs against the wall, to rapidly figure out what they could do without face-to-face course delivery.  Whatever category you fell into, you’ve had to respond to unprecedented disruption. 

My business underwent rapid growth.  People recognised they could access my support from anywhere in the world.  I now regularly facilitate professional development sessions online.  I’m supporting several organisations to develop or refresh their organisational learning strategy.  I scaled up the Learning Uncut Podcast to support industry adaptation. 

This growth came at a cost.  Earlier this year I felt fatigued. It wasn’t just due to increased demand.  It was also about the nature of change.  Change is hard.  Even when we really want to create it.  It requires sustained effort, rewiring our thinking habits and working practices, and influencing and supporting others.

We all took advantage of the great unfreeze when life was thrown into disarray.  Learning shifted to the online world.  There was a massive initial uptake of online content.  We adjusted to virtual course delivery.  This took agility and grit.

Yet, the most transformative opportunities still lie ahead of us. I want us to look back on this as a glorious coming-of-age moment for the industry. What happens after COVID-19 needs to be more significant than what happened during. But where are we going and how do we get there?

The mindset of learning professionals holds the key to being more relevant and effective than ever.  You may have been critical to your organisation during crisis.  Maintaining this position requires you to adopt a business first mindset. This means addressing business challenges rather than focussing solely on learning.  You need to be courageous enough to build a learning culture which enables others to learn and improve performance without your intervention.

In my work with learning leaders and their teams I witness the challenges of shifting a mindset.  Your experience, practices and tools can hold you back.  They can limit your thinking about what is possible.  To generate breakthrough thinking and change as an industry we need to lean into our community to look at what works, then improve our practice.

This has been my way of working for nearly ten years. To maintain your relevance, innovation, and leadership in this industry you must be connected to global peers and leaders.

Need an introduction? I’m holding a party and you’re warmly invited!

Please join me as I relaunch my business and expand my reach.  Learning has great untapped potential and I am proud to be supporting progressive learning professionals and leaders. My business has the future of this industry in sight.

It’s not just new programs. I’ve chosen a new business name too. For the past three years the Learning Uncut Podcast has shared stories of real learning solutions that have made an impact.  The podcast serves learning professionals across the globe, recently reaching the milestone of 100,000 downloads across 105 countries.  Reflecting the growth of both the podcast and my business, I’m pleased to announce that the business is now called Learning Uncut.

I invite you to celebrate our progress as a profession, tap into your sense of purpose and connect with your community.  It’s time to recharge our energy and continue the transformation that will mark this period as a vital coming of age for organisational learning.

Join Michelle and the Learning Uncut team for the kick-off of the ‘My L&D Why’ story sharing campaign at the Learning Uncut launch event on 18 May.  Share your story of why you work in L&D and connect with a global community of progressive peers.  For further details and to register visit the event page  #MyLDWhy

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