It was the beginning of the third futurecasting event sponsored by our new organization Talent Development 2025. Stavros, our facilitator, was kicking off the session. He had just completed introducing our mission:
”Co-create the future of talent development today”
Then he asked one of those softball questions that we as learning and development consultants use to get people to focus on the task at hand. “What is the Coolest Learning and Talent Development Innovation you’ve seen recently?”
We were on the 4th floor of a building on 42nd street in Manhattan, but I swear that all I could hear for the next 60 seconds was the sound of crickets. Not one of the forty people in attendance or the ninety people watching the live stream via Periscope.tv was ready to share a cool innovation in our field of Learning and Talent Development. Eventually, ideas were shared, but I could count them on two fingers.
The silence got me to thinking. Why is it that in this age of disruptive innovation that the field of Learning and Talent Development feels like a barren desert of ideas? What is it about our profession that makes us so reluctant to take risks, try new things, change the way we work? I started to descend into a state of depression and self-pity, but then something amazing happened.
Our group got to work.
We spent the next two hours considering the major trends that we believe will have a significant impact on the way humans live, work, and relate to each other in the year 2025. We then picked the trends that interested us most and investigated how they will impact professional development training programs in the future. Then, working in teams, we came up with pretotypes (a pre-prototype) of products that we want to create to help address the talent challenges of 2025. It was fantastic!
Three quick observations I had from this experience.
The ideas we came up with were amazing. Here are a few examples. The Habit Hacker – an app that uses neuroscience, big data, and expert systems to identify and build habits that will help you achieve your goals. The On Demand Coach – a device which combines the power of virtual reality, wearables and bio-metrics to provide coaching during the critical moments of your day so that you use the most effective approach in each of your daily interactions. You can see a few of the presentations on our YouTube channel. TD2025 YouTube
There was a definite bias towards performance improvement solutions as opposed to learning solutions. Even the solutions focused on learning were geared to make learning more effective and efficient. While it far from a scientifically validated study, I have seen this trend at all three of the TD2025 futurecasting events. Is the future of learning and talent development more about enhancing performance in real time as opposed to building capabilities through training? It will be interesting to see if this insight begins to come to fruition. It would have a significant impact on how Talent Development professionals work and are perceived by their stakeholders.
The dynamics of the group had transformed. In two hours we had gone from passive consumers of a boring talent development present to active creators of an innovative and exciting talent development future. The mood had changed, our interactions had changed, and our body language had changed. We were controlling our own destiny and it felt good.
So let’s get back to the question that started this off. What’s the Coolest Learning and Talent Development Innovation you’ve seen recently? I think the sound of crickets was not the sound of desperation, but the sound of opportunity. I’m also curious to know about the coolest talent development innovations you have seen. Let’s shut those crickets up. Reach out to me and we can begin to capitalize on the opportunity before us.