1. ….70:20:10 the new Pareto’s Law for L&D?
    • 10% Effort
    • 20% Resources
    • 70% Results


  2. ….there such a thing as L&D borrowing capital (budgets) from shareholders (other depts) and promising them a dividend?  Or is this what they call ‘Shared Services’?
  3. ….L&D ‘at risk’ and/or ‘a risk’?  And who is best positioned to make that assessment?

More questions (and no answers) to come.


2016 A.D. – the year of ‘Smart Learning’?

analytics, CPD, Learning, smart city

One of the trends that appears to have gained traction in recent months is Learning Analytics (LA). It has heavily featured in conferences right across the world, most recently at DevLearn.

Now I know LA strikes fear and loathing in some of you, but like it or not, it does appear to be here to stay.

Wikipedia defines analytics as ‘the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.’


Technology has made data ubiquitous and, if Edward Snowden is right, more open than we had perhaps estimated. Data and the rights to privacy can be argued back and forth, but I do believe in the sharing of data for the social good.

One example of this is with Smart Cities.

For those not familiar, Smart Cities harness smart technology and data to tackle issues ranging from the economic to environmental. I live quite close to one – Milton Keynes.

Here’s an example of how they are using tech and data.

Energy systems for smarter cities

What the video shows you is consumer becoming a producer of data and then actively surrendering that data for the greater good. But they go beyond that. They go on to co-create by changing their behaviour. They call it Consumer to Prosumer, a top-down/bottom-up approach.

So, if people are comfortable doing this within cities or communities, why shouldn’t organisations be any different?

I get the trust, culture, WIIFM, Big Brother thing, but in the same way that we might relinquish control of our data for the social good, why wouldn’t we back in the workplace? Would opening data create conversation, create innovation and ideas, enable behaviour changes for the better? Would it enable co-creation within your organization? Isn’t this what xAPI and AI are there to assist with?

This leads me to Professor Everett Rogers and his theories documented in his wonderful work, ‘Diffusions of Innovation’.   Aspects around ‘Properties of Innovation’ and ‘Adopter Types’ may provide some clues as to the ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ of Big Data.

Here’s my retrospective VLOG that explores this.

I just wonder if Smart Cities will become a benchmark for more openness in data-sharing within other areas of our lives. Could it influence what and how we learn in our schools, our communities, our workplace?

Will 2016 be the year of ‘Smart Learning’?


#peerwatch, CPD, Learning

Last week on #LDInsight Tweetchat(Fridays, 8am BST), the following question was posed.

Who could we be talking to that we aren’t at present?

Here was my response.

LDINSIGHT response

Now perhaps Peer Observation was probably not the right terminology, but my comment did resonate with some people, including respected colleagues Michelle Parry-Slater (@MiPS1608) and Jo Stephenson (@Jostepho).

Within my most recent organisation, my experiences of observation were either provoked by an HR process (e.g. appraisal/performance management), change (e.g. imminent restructures), or a combination of both.  It strikes me now that we just sat and waited for these triggers.  We weren’t agile, we weren’t really benchmarking ourselves sufficiently and possibly against the wrong things.  Frankly, I feel we got a little lazy.

Your practice (and perhaps definition) of observation might well be different within your workplace.  In this social age, we actively ‘observe’ our external peers through conferences, blogs, Meetups, Tweetups etc, but are we missing out on some useful CPD by partnering with an organisation and periodically observing each other’s day-to-day environment and practices?

Yep, the idea of external observation scares the heck out of me too, and I know it’s not easy, but how much value would both parties gain from spending time (and little budget) with each other, especially if your industries and/or sectors are at polar opposites?

So anyway, I’ve decided to put this to the test.

I plan to approach some individuals and organisations over the next few weeks…. speak to other LnDers, Developers, Architects, Marketeers, Product Managers.  I have no idea what to expect (neither do they), but I’m confident it will be time and (little) money well spent.

Finally, in the spirit of recent hybrid hashtagging trends, I will today launch this campaign (of one) under the HT of #PeerWatch.

Would love you to join me on this.

From The Roof Up

I recently caught up with my mate John, an incredibly skilled and well-respected civil/structural engineer. Now in his sixties, John has worked all over the world building big factories for big clients.

John is old school. I say this because he’s not over-reliant on technology when it comes to creating and analysing structures. Don’t be worried by this…before I bought my current home, John spotted a defect on my conservatory that no other surveyor did. He saved me a few quid in the process.

John has just returned from a two-year gig in India. Now, when most of your friends come back from a lengthy outing abroad, you expect lots of media and tales. John is no exception, but when he came round, opened his laptop and launched PowerPoint, I knew this was going to be front row with popcorn. What John presented was a wonderful and illustrative narrative that was as absorbing as the biscuits we were dunking in our teas. John speaks with great technicality, and even though I can’t keep up with him, I love it.

Passion. Pride.

Anyway, slide 263 showed the early stages of one of his building creations, a roof at ground level against a backdrop of steel columns. “Trusstastic!” you scream. However, what is interesting is that his team are also chucking in the pipework, ducts, cabling etc at ground level before lifting onto the steel supports.

Roof. Done.

What this now does is provide protection, a shelter that allows you to repeat the process with subsequent floors. Each floor then becomes a shelter in itself allowing work to continue below, but it also serves as a support in allowing work to continue above.
There’s something Kanban about this approach. I don’t know what makes me say that, but it’s just…different.

Funny that we talk about agility, collaboration, bottom up, top down, scaffolding (yep you saw that coming), but are we still operating within old and tired techniques in LnD? A roof is there to protect, to frame and support.  It has as much importance, if not more, as your foundations. You can still function with a shelter over your head.

Is it time for you to build again, from the roof up?



As with many skills we learn throughout our lives, there is a starting point.

For drummmers, many would argue that you need to learn the basics – holding sticks, correct posture, learning rudiments.


Rudiments exist for a number of reasons, but fundamentally, they are viewed by some as the bedrock in the same way that scales are important to the piano.  You can find out more here.

Now, when I began learning drums back in 1843, I didn’t learn rudiments.  I was self-taught and learned through listening to and observing ‘Top of the Pops’ and Animal.

Then came the drum teacher.

He didn’t teach me rudiments either.  Well, kinda not.  What I learned were drum set patterns, the ‘boom-tish boom-boom-tish’ years.  That got me through and I went from there – practising, auditions, rehearsals, stagefright.

I’ve slowly returned to the gig scene after a significant absence and alot has changed.  And why wouldn’t it.  Pubs and clubs are paying less.  Most cover bands have ‘Get Lucky’ in their setlist (it’s the new Must[h]ang Sally), and amateur drummers have also become insanely technical and creative.

By technical I mean two things:

  1. The emergence of the hybrid setup (acoustic and electronic kits)
  2. The polyrhythmic application and mashup of beats and rudiments.

These changes have really made me re-look at what I can offer as a drummer.
So here’s a couple of things I’ve done recently:

  1. I’ve added a bit of tech to my setup, a bit like these drum triggers.  They enable me to enhance the musical experience.  Sure I could get away with just playing with a degree of finesse on an acoustic kit, but why fight the tech?
  2. I’ve REALLY started to learn some, not all, of the rudiments.  I knew them already, I just thought I could play them properly – turns out that was in my head.  These rudiments will enable me to enhance the musi….oh we’ve done that.

Now let me be clear.  Nobody has forced this on me.

I could have carried on as I am, but as with Web 3.0 (yes, it’s kinda here), I’m embracing it because I’ve opened my mind and recognise it has a place and value.  However, the problem with having all the ‘chops’ and tech at your disposal is that, sometimes, the following sort of thing happens.

‘Bille Jean’ – drum cover

This is what us drummers call not being ‘in the pocket’.  In other words, you have no groove, you are not list-e-ning to the mu-sic.

Some drummers are naturally gifted with ‘pocket’ e.g. Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro and Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler who played on the original ‘Bille Jean’.  I met Leon at a drum festival once.  He told me that Jackson told him to keep it four-on-the-floor, no deviation.  There are some subtleties to what Leon plays, but make no mistake, ‘Bille Jean’ is a very difficult song to drum along to because you can easily fall into temptation.

‘Pocket’ is about listening. It’s about agility. It allows other musicians to work with you and, more importantly, it helps your audience to take a little more notice of the music.  For me, ‘pocket’ is THE basic in a drummer’s toolkit.  If you haven’t got it, you work towards it.  I continously work at finding and applying it in the right and responsive context.  And I still don’t get it right.

There’s an underlying L&D narrative here, but hey, you’re cleverer than me and I’ve bored you this far.

Keep Enabling.

(PS Paradiddle rudiment. Lifesaver.  Learn it here.)


CPD, Learning

You remember that hilariously classic TV moment from the 70s involving boy scouts on a roller coaster?  Y’know, the one from ThatBastardMonster’ll Fix It .

The unknown. The expressions. The mess. Great viewing.

That was me, yesterday, at the CIPD 2015 exhibition in London (Day 2).

Let me take you on a snapshot of my ride.

  1. Arrive [climb into car]
  2. Want to leave [car climbs]
  3. Meet Kevin (@donnyboy71) [Kevin is next to me. His arms are in the air]
  4. We share an experience [Kevin holds on to his lunch]
  5. Again! Again!

And so it continues. People jump on. People jump off.

Fear is a bugger, isn’t it. I know that one day very soon, Reader’s Digest will come through my door. No, sorry……I will unknowingly subscribe digitally.  Fear was something that the quite incredible Julian Stodd observed and blogged recently.

My fear yesterday was about where L&D would continue to add value in the medium term. Yes we scaffold, we curate, we analyse, we play Acronym Bingo, but how long will this last? In this age of PLE and PLN (Bingo!), how long before Millenials, BBoomers, Gen X etc (by the way, it’s a load of tosh) just work it out for themselves?

They already have, haven’t they.

But then I spoke to someone who gave me hope (*stirring music*).  He of identified gender shall remain nameless, but Martin reminded me of that work that ‘falls under the other areas of HR’ – Talent Management, Recruitment and Retention, Performance etc.

We co-own that. We so bloody co-own that….with everyone.

Clearly I haven’t got a clue, and my comments are indicative of the organisational setup I’ve been part of in the last few years. (Colleagues, if you are reading, I have much admiration for you. Sincerely. Truly.)

We all need to let go a bit. Put our arms in the air.

And this, dear friend(s) is when I turn to Toto – they of hits such as ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna’ (still one of the tightest, funkiest, most difficult drum beats ever).

Let us pray:

“I’ve been waitin’ for your love, and it’s been here all the time right in front of me”

Now, I didn’t say this to Martin (nor do I have a need to), but thank you Martin. For me, it’s added to my purpose.

Yesterday was about overcoming some of my fears: networking, socialising, punching way way way above my weight.  It’s reminded me of what I still need to do. I’m comfortable with that. I even accepted the ‘Knob’ comment on presentation of my badge.

I’m a better person for the whole experience.

I want to congratulate Andy Lancaster and all at CIPD for finally grabbing my attention again after seven long years. Well done. I wish you great success.

For those who gave me your time, your ears and your wisdom, thank you.

Lead on.
‘Knob’ out.

#cipdLDshow #ldinsight

D to A


Warning: What follows is all over the place.

For those who haven’t followed the Government’s digital transformation agenda, don’t worry, you won’t have had to.

It’s all around you.

From renewing your driving license to making an employment tribunal claim, the channel shift is both subtle and immense, as are the efforts to support those who are digitally illiterate.

The folks at GDS have been one of the powerhouses behind this, with many industries and professions (not just UX people) seeing them as one of THE leaders in service design and delivery.  Their Service Design Manual is really worth exploring, in particular their methodology in how to execute the phases of service design.

As L&Ders, we are familiar with this methodology within the workplace. We do Alpha > Beta > Live. We ‘Retire’. We do Agile. Right?


In this so-called VUCA world, it’s made me think.

But here’s the thing….. as L&Ders, are we in a state of perpetual ‘Discovery’ when it comes to our own learning and its associated application?

A/B reminds me about the good old audio cassette. Two sides, infinite looping.
The cassette player…..Play, Stop, Rewind/Forward, Record. Pause.


I own a ‘CPD Controller 1000’ (patent pending). There’s no Pause on it, but there are some Level indicators.  I keep monitoring them.  I am the DJ (sorta).   I am in control (sorta).  I might get requests like ‘Hey Nick, do you know #CPDorDIE?’, but a quick glance at the Levels and I can see I’m nudging red.

One of the NHS Five Steps to Wellbeing is to Keep Learning.  Well, do you know what, sometimes it’s OK to Pause Learning.

I turn to my Controller and ‘Fade In’ some ‘Practice’.

Now, I know what you are going to say here. Practice is still learning.  Indeed it is.
But, when’s the last time you made that jump from D to A in your workplace?

And that, dear friends, was all over the place.