The 5 answers of Mike Taylor and Bianca Baumann about L&D

50 jaar VOV
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How would you define a good L&D-Professional? Why?

M. Taylor: "To me, there are two things that are foundational for a good L&D-Professional: curiosity & empathy. The curiosity piece comes from constantly questioning things like: ‘Are there better ways to do this? Are we getting the results we need?’, the empathy piece comes from the main question: ‘What is the experience for the people that we’re serving?’. Learning should be easy to access, without any friction. So if you have those two skills, you can figure the details out by thriving with curiosity on one side and empathy on the other."

B. Baumann: "I agree with Mike on those two. What I would like to add is to have an open mind in general, of course this goes hand in hand with the curiosity piece. Sometimes Learning Professionals are relying too much on and hiding behind their credentials, causing them to be too rigorous throughout the learning process and forgetting the bigger picture. I don’t want to undervalue credentials like having a Masters in Education or Instructional Design in any way, but I believe that by bringing that human aspect in everything that you’re doing often gets you much further when you work with clients that just your credentials.

But certainly it’s all of it: the credentials, the curiosity part, the empathy part, the open mind & common sense, and not only for the Northern Americans but I would say this is a global skill set."


What is the most important lesson you have learned throughout your career?

B. Baumann: "That’s a loaded question. But for me, very simple: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions.’ It’s really one of those things that would’ve helped me in my career if I just asked the questions I had. Besides curiosity and networking, as Mike said earlier. That networking piece, quick story: that’s how Mike and I have started to work together. We were just following each other on Twitter, then LinkedIn and with Mike’s birthday years ago I just sent him a message. After that Mike initiated that we should work on something together and so we just did. We created a whole day workshop without actually seeing or working together before. What I would like to say: just reach out, don’t be afraid."

M. Taylor: "I would agree on the networking part too. It’s easier, faster and more valuable or rewarding than most people realize, but you just got to do it to experience it. The other thing, like Bianca already said, is asking for more feedback earlier and more often. It’s like getting a bunch of requirements together, going away for six months and getting out with a whole different thing than what’s asked for. Just show your work more sooner and more frequently."


How do you see the world of L&D evolving in the future?

M. Taylor: "There are so many different directions the future can go, so it’s difficult to just pick one. One of the things I see is on the technology side: everything is blending and connecting together, like the platforms are beginning to look and work the same. What I think, or really hope is that the working and learning part will blend too."

B. Baumann: "Yes. Nowadays companies are trying to combine it more with platforms like Microsoft Viva, but on top of that, I think – hope - that L&D will not just be a part of the HR-function anymore. I vision it more like a SWAT-team by having a team of experts in an organization and parachuting one out if the learning question is in his field of expertise. If L&D is more integrated in businesses we really can help to make changes in performance and behavior. Therefore I believe it would benefit L&D to get of its pedestal of ‘we own training and learning’ and to decentralize it to make sure learning is everywhere. L&D is and will be more of a supporting function. Especially now, with people working remotely, it shook up a lot of organizations in their way of working – in a good way."

M. Taylor: "The silver lining of this whole pandemic is probably that all the excuses people had to not do some things, are now gone. As L&D-Professionals, we should take advantage of this ‘trend’ to think and re-evaluate how learning works and works out for all the people. Like Bianca said with her analogy of the SWAT-team: I think people in the L&D-field should be more equal so they can stand in the front line with everybody else."


Are there any trends in the world of L&D or the job market in general that concern you?

B. Baumann: "For me it’s definitely the question of the new technology and how it will evolve further, specifically AI and data collection. Of course I think it’s great to have more data for more data-driven projects, but how much is too much? How far can we go? How far should we go and what should we do with that information? If you think about the AI-technology nowadays, do they overstep our privacy or are we still in a secure place? You can collect all the data you want, but the questions remains: what do you do with it and what is my goal, what will I improve?"

M. Taylor: "I am sure that data is continue to grow, but indeed it’s what we will do with it. Having or collecting data is one thing, but using or knowing how to use it is another thing. If we can get more insights because of the data about what’s happening and what people are getting out of the effort they make, we can improve what we are doing for those people. There are more opportunities in that than we are using or even realizing."

"Another trend job marketwise is that people who hire L&D should expand their view, should broaden their perspective. For example: a good writer can sometimes be more valuable than an Instructional Designer, besides I believe that marketing skills can improve and lift up L&D due to their efficiency in the way they message and get attention."

B. Baumann: "I totally agree on that. I’ve seen so many great Instructional Designers without the credentials or without that Masters degree who just get it. Who just know what to do in a way that everybody will get it."

M. Taylor: "Indeed! If you have amazing creativity and you’d be a great writer for example, you can get very far in L&D without the formal credentials."

B. Baumann: "I know a lot of people who are actually breathing L&D an Instructional Design. It’s a real coincidence, but the other day I was talking to a woman who’s also an Instructional Designer, she has three kids and two of them are on the same University she went to and she told the program of Instructional Design hasn’t changed over the past 20 years or so. That’s scary to me."

M. Taylor: "Are colleges and universities really trying their best to keep up with the fast evolving changes? I mean they are great for learning the basic principles, but to be fair I don’t think they are up-to-date with all the changes."


What would you personally like to learn, acquire or unlearn in the coming year?

B. Baumann: "I am really curious to learn more about to latest AI-movements and how that can positively effect what we’re doing and of course I also want to learn in the flow of work. Unlearning… I think that’s for everybody, we all have some habits we want to get rid of."

M. Taylor: "I am a real tools and technology kind of nerd, so I am really enthusiastic about these no-code things. You can either connect existing things you’re already using or you can use those and create your own custom-made ‘platform’ without learning how to code. Being able to develop without being a developer, I think that’s super exiting.  I think we are just scratching the surface of in-app or plug-in options, so I am curious to learn more about that."

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