Author: Ryan Tracey

Learning & Development innovation specialist.

Everything, everywhere, all at once

The title of this blog post is borrowed from Deloitte’s summary of the priorities of C-suite executives (which in turn is borrowed from the Daniels).

Why the Green Dot chose this phrase to represent their findings is clear:

“When asked to choose their focus areas among the 10 core business priorities broadly categorized across growth, purpose, people, process, and technology, more than 60 percent of the executives surveyed chose seven or more priorities, and 25 percent chose all 10.”

Cartoon person holding a broom, arm in the air, shouting Clean ALL the things!

This is no surprise to me. Over my years in the Learning & Development sector, I’ve seen a similar approach to capability frameworks. Which among the 17 (or more) are the priorities? The answer is almost always all of them.

However, when everything’s a priority, nothing is.

As a business we need to recognise the difference between prioritisation and importance. Yes it’s important – that’s why it’s in the framework and why we’ll support it.

The next question is which ones will drive the greatest improvement, for us, right now? They’re the few we’ll double down on.

L&D conferences in Australia in 2023

Has our conference attendance rate returned to pre-pandemic levels?

I’m not sure.

I attended several last year, and while there seemed to be plenty of attendees at each one, most combined L&D with HR to bump up the numbers. Which is fine, given they’re allied professions, so long as the content pitched to the latter doesn’t squeeze out the value sought by the former.

Another gripe I feel compelled to share is the spectre of sales emails and even phone calls following attendance. The barrage I received after one particular event was so voluminous that I’ve vowed never to attend it again.

On a more positive note, one event that I am looking forward to attending again is the L&D + HR Symposium in the glorious Hunter Valley. If you’ll be there too, do let me know.

I’m also delighted to see an event being hosted in Darwin this year. It’s a top spot (no pun intended) and an exotic change of scenery from the east coast!

Aerial view of Darwin, Australia.

Conference List

The details of the following events may change, so please check the latest information on their websites.

International Conference on Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulations
Sydney, 3-5 March 2023

Learning Impact Summit
Gold Coast, 9-10 March 2023

NZATD Conference
Auckland, 15-16 March 2023

Brisbane, 16-19 April 2023

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Melbourne, 11-12 May 2023

L&D Summit Australia
Sydney, 21-22 June 2023

AITD Conference
Sydney, 21-23 June 2023

Brisbane, 4-7 July 2023

Learning and Development Forum
Melbourne, 20 July 2023

L&D + HR Symposium
Hunter Valley, 1-2 August 2023

Melbourne, 24-25 August 2023

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Sydney, 29-30 August 2023

Eportfolio Forum
Darwin & Virtual, 11-12 October 2023

HRD Learning & Development Summit
Sydney, 17 October 2023

L&D Innovation & Tech Fest
Sydney, 15-16 November 2023

Melbourne, 21-22 November 2023

If you’re aware of another L&D conference down under,
please share a link via a comment below…

Indecent proposals

Another year has flown by, and once again I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of articles I managed to post in-between the trials and tribulations of life.

In December I like to review each one with a view to identifying a common theme. This time around, I’ve noticed that I – perhaps more directly than usual – presented my ideas in the form of proposals.

As to their decency, I’ll let you be the judge…

A woman with her hand to her mouth in a bashful manner.

US Liberty $1 coin

By the way, thank you everyone who reached out to me to express your appreciation of my annual compilation of L&D conferences in Australia. You’ve given me the reason I needed to continue doing it, so stay tuned for January.

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a bonza start to the new year!

Tree climbers

I respect Malcolm Gladwell as a thinker, but I’m disappointed by his Grand Unified Theory for fixing higher education that he espouses in an episode of the Revisionist History podcast titled The Tortoise and the Hare.

I won’t spoil the surprise for those who haven’t yet heard it, but suffice to say it’s born out of his experience in taking the hallowed Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Malcolm argues the exam favours hares, not tortoises, even though tortoises make better lawyers. His animalian analogy reminds me of the cartoon Our Education System.

A teacher saying to a range of different animals: For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam: please climb that tree.

While the cartoon makes a valid point about the diversity of intelligence, we must bear in mind that an assessment of your ability to climb a tree is a perfectly reasonable way to measure your mastery of tree climbing.

While Malcolm goes on to propose a solution to redress the bias he sees in the LSAT, he ends up abandoning it in favour of a catchphrase that treats the symptom rather than the cause.

I wish he remained focused on the cure: authentic assessment.

If we need tree climbers, let’s test their ability to climb trees.

The duality of Agile

The term “Agile” means different things to different people.

To some it’s the powerhouse of efficiency and productivity; whereas to others it’s a vague label at best, or an empty buzzword at worst.

And I can see why the conflict arises: because two forms of agile exist – one with a small “a”, the other with a big “A”.

A young brown hare in a grassy field.

Small “a” agile

Small “a” agile is a 400-year old word in the English language that means to move quickly and easily. In the corporate context, it lends itself to being open to change and adapting to it, while maintaining a healthy sense of urgency and prioritising delivery over analysis paralysis.

It’s a mindset that underscores the concept of the MVP – Eric Ries’s construct of good enough – to get the product or service that your customers need into their hands as soon as possible, so they can start extracting value from it now.

Then you continuously improve your offering over time. Retain what works, and modify or cancel what doesn’t. That way you fail fast and small, while iterating your way towards perfection.

An ornage sticky note pinned to a wall.

Big “A” Agile

In comparison, big “A” Agile is a methodology to manage that way of working.

It provides tools, structures and processes – think sprints, scrums and kanbans – to pin down the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of our work, thereby maintaining clarity over what needs to be done, and baking in accountability to ensure it gets done.

Hence it may be helpful to think of small “a” agile as an adjective and big “A” Agile as a noun; bearing in mind that big “A” Agile might also be used as an adjective to describe a person, place or thing that adopts the methodology.

Regardless, some of our peers rail against Agile as a redundant neologism. As with other trends such as Design Thinking, they argue it’s merely old world practices repackaged in a new box. It’s what we’ve always done and continue to do as consummate professionals.

But I politely challenge those folks as to whether it’s something they really do, or rather it’s something they know they should do.

If a new box helps us convert best practice into action, I’m a fan.