Do we live in 2017 or 1917 ? / Learning every day – part 1

This is a genuine question that I currently ponder and have pondered over the past months and it still perplexes me today.


For all of the talk of the UK productivity gap, doing ‘more with less,’ trying to increase the efficiency of what we do, getting a seat at the ‘top table,’ etc I can’t help but feel that human beings as employees in so many organisations, in 2017, are still viewed as assets on a balance sheet (under that lovely term “human capital”) with finite value add potential, focused on solely the short term, rather than being viewed as the human beings that they are; that harness an infinite ability to continually grow, innovate and be creative, for the long term, both for themselves and therefore for the organisations that they work for.

This lead to me reflect on Helen @WildFigSolns request for blog contributions to her #blogcarnival in advance of next month’s @CIPD #cipdldshow.

With regards the question of how do we make every day a learning day I feel that there are a few questions to consider:

  • Why do I want to learn?
  • How do I learn best?
  • What are my targets / objectives through learning? Specific aim or in general?
  • Does my organisation support continuous learning/development of employees? Does it matter to them?
  • How will I be able to evidence that my learning makes a difference to me personally and/or my work organization?
  • Do I reflect enough on any learning?

For me I can answer yes, I do love learning every day but why and how do I do that?

Before I started to use Twitter 3 years ago to develop an effective personal learning network #PLN, of known and unknown contacts, my learning was much more sporadic.  I would read the occasion book, I would attend the odd in house L&D  module but none of this supported my regular, joined up, aligned continuous improvement of myself and in turn my performance for the organisation.  Does this matter?

To me it does.  My knowledge, insight and network has expanded exponentially over the past 36 months, to be 1000%+ larger and more effective and insightful (this is the key point) than it was previously.  There are still too many reports that talk about “training still being done to people” and too much “off the shelf” training being practiced rather than learning needs being identified and learning tailored.

The value to my organisation has been an in-house suite of 16 learning modules, designed and delivered in-house saving the company over £94k in two years with an 8.5/10 feedback rating across 154 attendees with 100% of delegates stating that the experience made them want to attend future modules (effective, good quality learning breeds an interest in further learning).

In addition through my own extended #PLN, a continuous feed of insight, reports, challenges and proposals, tailored to my perceived needs of the organisation and its leadership, was now available.  None of this would have happened 4 years ago, I just did not have the insight, awareness or even passion honestly to want to learn every day back then.

In addition and in combination with social learning, the plethora of (many relatively cheap) workshops, exhibition and conferences makes for an infinite and exponential opportunity to learn as often as one would like.  This is where the CIPD branch network really comes into its own.

Also, here comes the critical point for me and @PubDonna touched on this in her #blogcarnival post which is that learning is a choice.

At a recent @WorldBlu workshop (a must attend for anybody and everyone that strives to help personal lives and workplaces be free from fear (or be more brave to positively reframe the message as peers have referenced recently) – you will be surprised which fears you actually have – I was!) I was a proud advocate, at this event, as to the effectiveness and value of Twitter as a learning medium.  I regularly cite that 80%+ of my CPD derives from predominantly Twitter, with some via LinkedIn.  This number always shocks people.

Here I thank Helen Amery for her introduction and recommendation to engage with Twitter.  Because of this introduction literally every day IS a learning day for me and that is so inspiring, however small or large.

Additionally through pulling together this blog, in combination with my recent WorldBlu experience, I have truly identified my personal purpose which is:

“Start with why, be free from fear and learn every day” – Learn every day has actually been clarified to me through the writing of this blog, so learning in real time right there!

Deliberately Developmental Organisations (DDOs) such as NextJump, Decurion and Bridgewater come to mind again in the book “An Everyone Culture.”  Seriously a must read for any forward looking human being.


These DDOs never allow their employees to get comfortable.  As soon as they are close to mastery, they are moved into a new role that ‘stretches’ them.  They are not looking to stress, they are always looking to stretch and this is a critical point to be clear on.

For me I see two very simple comparisons:

  • Stretch + Learning = Personal and in turn performance growth.
  • Stress + ‘no learning’ = Mental health issues and fear which does not support growth of any type

These are not scientific equations, but you get my point.

Finally, the below excerpt from a recent World Economic Forum report (found at ) highlights what skills students need for 21st century working.

My question and challenge here, however, for those of us that are also working in the 21st century right now, is how many of these skills are we all working on?  Should it only be students working on these 21st century skills – I state categorically no.  Importantly, how are we focussing on learning every day to help ensure we are creating the best versions of ourselves that we can be?


Learning does not stop at 16, 18 or 21, but our societies do not appear to value learning after these ages in the same way as when we are at school.  This is certainly a potential barrier to learning every day and in turn a risk to our national productivity.

If we ALL focus on building the above skills, regularly, we can truly start to help move more of our organisations into 2017 working and away from 1917 working.

Any comments or feedback as to your viewpoint are greatly appreciated.  Debate is good and again fuels learning and growth.  See you, I hope, in part 2.

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