You are on page 1of 24

Inspiration Trumps Information Clive Shepherd How Important is Your L&D Team?

? Nigel Paine Gritspiration Harnessing Adversity to Inspire Others Paul Stoltz The Link Between Leaders and Learning Paul Matthews How to Inspire Through Stories Deborah Frances-White The Joy of Vague Guy Claxon Just Take a Breath Donald H Taylor Willing and Unwilling Learners Jane Hart You Cant Enforce Curiosity Euan Semple Engaged for Work Harold Jarche Becoming the future. Dream. Do. Deserve Brian Solis Transforming Work David Wilson Inspiration Through Evaluation Jim Kirkpatrick

2 3 4 6 8 10 12 14 15 16 18 19 20

Produced by Reed Learning Lovingly designed by


L E A R N I N G AT WO R K I S INCREASINGLY SELF-DIRECTED. Thats the view of many thinkers and commentators in the L&D eld. Knowledge has never been so accessible. But to direct your own learning requires curiosity, motivation and the skills to go and discover new things. How can we inspire this kind of behaviour among people at work?

We put this question to 13 leading experts and L&D thinkers, and this book is their response. From storytelling to leadership to more philosophical approaches, theyve given us their thoughts on inspiration in learning. We hope it helps you inspire MOTIVATED, SELF-DIRECTED LEARNERS in your organisation and that it inspires your own learning, too.

JAMES REED Chairman, Reed Learning MA, MBA, FCIPD



a sense of autonomy, a desire for mastery and a sense of purpose. Inspiration is the result of all three of these motivators ring at once. Teachers and trainers would do well to look at their priorities. Focus on imparting high volumes of abstract information and all you will achieve is a demotivated, befuddled group of learners. Concentrate on inspiring them, and they will go seek out the knowledge for themselves. Inspirational teachers and trainers can change the world. In an age of ubiquitous internet access from mobile devices, those that are more intent on showing how much they know, will soon be surplus to requirements.

have to be inspired to learn, but it certainly helps. One of the principal goals of any sort of course is to inspire the learner about the subject to make them care about leadership, health and safety, anti-money laundering, the company for whom they work, or whatever the subject is. Without inspired learners, the best you can hope for is a grudging compliance, another tick in the box. And when it comes to effective performance in the workplace, it is doubtful whether this will be enough to achieve your objective. In Daniel Pinks book Drive, he talks about three intrinsic human motivators


Clive co-founded Epic Group and is author of The Blended Learning Cookbook and The New Learning Architect


n a climate where many signicant organisations are downsizing, or even abolishing L& D in favour of new models of learning that are decentralised and focused on empowering individuals, it can be hard to feel inspired. It can get, occasionally, quite depressing. But let us make no mistake: learning and development teams unlike any other teams in any organisation anywhere, have a mission to change individuals, and change workplaces. They are at the heart of improving life at work so that more people can ourish, more of the time, and more companies or organisations can get better at what they do. That team also gives individual staff members the condence to feel they can do a good job, and can make a good job even better. This impacts way beyond the workplace. So learning professionals only need one mantra xed rmly in their heads, and that is: I change lives; I change individuals and I change organisations. There is nothing more important.


Nigel is former Head of Training for the BBC and now an international consultant and keynote speaker

o inspire others is undoubtedly one of the highest gifts and r iche st cont r ibut ion s we can offer. However, whether in business or in general life, there are three, essential, often overlooked ingredients that fuel our capacity to inspire anyone, especial ourselves. When combined, these ingredients also nurture GRIT. ADVERSITY The struggles, hardships, setbacks, difculties, problems, complications, frustrations, irritations, and tragedies that make up every day life create the dramatic backdrop, the ready opportunity to inspire. When speaking to large corporate groups, I often challenge them with a two-part question. You can play along, and see if you agree. First, I have them picture to vividly image the single, greatest human being, the person whose example or story

most inspires them. That person can be living or dead, male or female, famous or unknown, old or young. Question #1: True or false. That person faced signif icant adversity. The chorus responds, True! Question #2: True or false. Without that adversity, you probably would never have picked that person. Once again, True! What inspires you? When the person you care about handles good times well, or when the person you care about handles, and perseveres through real adversity in a truly elevating manner? It is in the ames of adversity that our greatness, our capacity to inspire others, is forged. Go beyond surviving or coping with adversity. Harness it. Use it, to launch yourself and others to elevations you would never have reached without the adversity.

ENERGY Which inspires you more? When a person lifelessly delivers the most motivating words imaginable, or when a person energetically, passionately delivers a highly imperfect, but heartfelt message of whats possible? Imagine any effort to inspire without energy. It is not merely difcult. Its impossible. At a cellular level, energy from one person infuses another. To breathe life to inspire you have to invest and exude authentic (not contrived) energy in all you say and do. Think of the most authentically energetic person you know. Chances are, their energy sparks from a deep conviction, even a sense of love and concern for others, than it does from some freak genetic mutation. Energy is a choice. Energy is a gift. Energy inspires.

EXAMPLE When you put the rst two elements, adversity and energy, together, you arrive at the third, example. To energetically rise up to harness adversity, to persevere, when others give up or are crushed is arguably the most inspiring example you can provide. Gr it inspires g r it. Greatness inspires greatness. Be that person, that leader, that enterprise that is at its best in the worst moments, and you will inspire others to do, to be, the same.


Paul is the author of four international bestsellers, guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and MIT and one of HR Magazines Top 10 most in uential global thinkers


Good leaders inspire learning, but not because they talk about learning. They inspire and engage, and people respond by following. In order to follow, P E O P L E T A K E A C T I O N . In order to take action, people will learn what they need to learn.

hink of a time you really wanted to do something new. What did you do? You took action and did anything you needed to do to achieve your goal. And almost certainly you needed to do new things, or do things differently. And that means you had to gure out how to do them. You had to learn something new because you were inspired to achieve a goal. Learning in adults tends to be a goaloriented process, particularly in the workplace. We do things for a reason,

including learning. If there is no goal, no desire to participate, no engagement, then learning dies. If training is delivered that does not relate to a present goal, the learning is not received. You cant teach someone something they feel they dont need. In this way there is an obvious impact of leadership on learning via the mechanisms of inspiration and engagement. What about the other way round? Does learning have an impact on leadership?


Paul is a regular speaker and the author of Informal Learning at Work: How to Boost Performance in Tough Times

When people learn new things in order to pursue a goal, and it makes the pursuit of that goal easier, the goal seems closer and more attainable. A goal that you can reach out and almost touch is more motivating than one that seems impossible because you just cant imagine ever being able to do it. So, it is important to make learning available to people as and when they need it in order to follow a leader. Doing so makes the leaders job so much easier, and their goals so much more attainable.



Deborah is a founder member of The Spontaneity Shop, co-author of The Improv Handbook, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, speaker and executive coach

tory is the way we understand the Do you have to go to Hollywood and world. The way we form memory. take a screenwriting course to become In fact it is around age three that we a powerful communicator? Not really. can understand story and so our two year Were all great storytellers in the pub with old memories tend to consist of no more our best mates sharing our holiday debacle than our grandmothers carpet or our or the trafc incident we just witnessed. favourite shoes. At three we understand We know precisely which information is narrative by which I mean cause and important for our audience to buy into effect, as in I leaned over the side of the our story. We know exactly what to boat to get my teddy back and because hold back till the most exciting moment. of that , I fell in. Thats a three year What makes us leave these things out olds memory. when communicating with colleagues As we get older we start to enjoy or clients? A combination of feeling a books, lms and TV shows where the slave to our corporate culture, an idea because of that mechanism is more we must do things the way everyone surprising. We dont see it coming that else does them and the fear of getting Darth Vader is Lukes father in Star Wars things wrong. but when its revealed it all makes sense. We need to nd ways to override Expert storytellers hide the cause and these pressures so we can transfer effect to make plots more exciting but our excellent, instinctive storytelling its at the heart of every narrative. Because skills to the boardroom. We all know of the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella can compelling corporate speakers who we go to the ball. Because she can go to cant help but listen to and quote to others. the ball, she meets the love of her life. The rst step to being that kind of dynamic Because she has to leave in a hurry, she communicator is to look for opportunities loses her shoe and so on. If she leaves to say because of that which will with everyone else and happens to leave make our audience want to know her umbrella in the cloak room and thats what comes next? how the prince can track her down, its not as satisfying or compelling because it feels random like life. Most business presentations feel like information presented in an arbitrary order. Theyre easier to tune out of than a great movie, because they lack cause and effect. Theyre just a series of facts or ideas with no because of that linking them. If you miss the rst ten percent of most PowerPoint presentations, youve missed exactly that ten percent of the information. If you miss the rst ten percent of the latest blockbusters, youve missed much more than that youve missed the cause, so the effect wont make sense. Its much harder to catch up.

ny learning worth its salt is slow and vague. Dont believe anyone who tries to tell you that bright people pick things up fast, snap out correct answers, and dont make mistakes. If there are such people their addiction to speed and decisiveness makes them shallow and showy. Nor do most creative ideas burst into your mind out of the dark, like an expensive rework. They sidle out into the corner of your mind and wait for you to notice them. And if you dont they will sidle away again. Top management consu ltants cheerfully admit (in private) that they work on two levels. On the outside, they are fast, quick, articulate and decisive. But thats a front. They need to look good or they wont get hired. But inside its a different story. In their heads it is more like a pack of hounds milling around, trying to get the scent, and making all kinds of false starts before they nd a promising direction. They have the courage to wait, to sniff and sense, to be alert to inklings and nuances that they cant, for the moment, justify, but which they treat with delicate respect.


Guy is author of numerous titles including Expansive Education: Teaching Learners for the Real World. He is Research Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester


Powerful learners are more like the tortoise than the hare. By being willing to take their time and to hang out in the fog, they actually get to deeper and more satisfying solutions faster than the spivvy hare who wastes a lot of time running around and showing off his spreadsheets and data analyses. Dont trust the slickness of the hare; but spend time with people who like to umm and err. With luck their subtle intelligence will rub off. What made Sherlock Holmes such a great problem-solver was his ability to devote to his conundrums the time they needed. I think this is a three-pipe problem, he would say to Dr Watson as he retreated to his room. And it did rub off. Watson does get smarter as the books go on. And so can we.

Its not that Im any more intelligent than anyone else; its just that I stay with problems longer.




Looking for inspiration? Just look to the word itself. Originally inspiration meant to breathe. And breathing is pretty important for brain function. The human brain accounts for just 2% of our body weight, yet its doing so much work it demands about 20% of our oxygen. As L&D professionals, though, we dont usually concern ourselves much with this either personally, or for those we want to help learn or work more effectively.

imply being aware of ones breath, moment to moment, can make it easier to relax and concentrate. Linda Stone (a writer and consultant who coined the phrase continuous partial attention) realised this when she discovered the opposite: that she was unconsciously holding her breath while reading her email, leading to increased stress levels. She calls the effect email apnoea. In her observations of 200 people at work, over 80% exhibited the same behaviour. And while a breath of fresh air often helps us think more clearly, this is not just a matter of a temporary uplift in clear thinking. The long term effects of exercise are well documented. Exercising

rats grow more brain cells than sedentary ones (Van Praag et al., 1999), and other studies link this increased neurogenesis to better cognition and memory (Kempermann, 2002). The best news of all: youre never too old. The University of California at San Francisco explored the brain function of nearly 6,000 women aged 65 years plus, over eight years, correlating brain function with levels of physical activity. The results were clear: for every 10 blocks walked per day (about one mile), the women had a 13% lower rate of cognitive decline. So if you want to learn, to think and to be inspired, the lesson is simple. Start with a deep breath.


Donald is Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute and the Learning Technologies Conference. He also heads the Learning and Skills Group a virtual forum of 4,000 learning professionals



Keen and interested to learn Able to learn for themselves

1. Just do it 2. Very active on social web 3. Solving own problems 4. Continuously learning from their PLN and other resources.

Interested to learn more But not able to learn for themselves

The ability to learn for themselves has been knocked out of them, although they would like to do so.


Not interested to learn But are capable of learning for themselves Disinterest could be due to the fact that they see no purpose in what they are asked to learn or it is offered in a format that is not right for them.

Not interested in learning Not able to learn for themselves 1. Not motivated to learn see no reason to do so. 2. Rely on being spoon-fed trained If you want me to do a job then you train me.



Jane is an author of several titles including the Social Media Handbook. She is Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, one of the worlds most visited learning websites
Jane Hart 2013


he Internet is all about learning, Jane Hart wrote an interesting whether its just which lm to post recently about how to deal with watch or where to shop for the unwilling corporate learners. How do best prices, it is all learning. Likewise you encourage people to learn if they social tools at work are great places for show little inclination? How do you learning. Learning from the experience help them to re-discover their natural of others, learning what is happening curiosity? Her conclusion was that a onearound you, learning how to improve size-ts-all eLearning or training solution yourself and become better at what you do. for every employee in the organisation All of this depends on curiosity. solves very few problems and causes Wondering why things are the way they far more. are, wanting to understand things, a I believe that curiosity is natural. I desire to take responsibility and grow believe that everyone has the capacity as an individual. Sadly we beat these and desire to learn. It is by no means characteristics out of people from an unreasonable to expect employees to early age. think for themselves. We just have to nd a way of making it worth their while.



Euan is a public speaker, writer and consultant who has worked with organisations such as BP, The World Bank and NATO to help them introduce social media tools


here is a real change in how to learn a dened skill, such as how to work is getting done today. Its drive a car. You can also train for a eld, not just factory workers but such as carpentry. But training does little many professionals whose work will be for creativity. automated by software and robots. First of all, learn real skills, not just Procedural work will keep getting how to make it in an organisation. Artists outsourced to the lowest cost of rst learn the skills of their eld. Learn labour. The industrial world deskilled how to code, bake, or some other dened work to its component parts, and today skill. Master it, and then start breaking these parts continue to get automated the rules. This is the Picasso approach. or crowd-sourced. Traditional jobs will Learn the rules like a pro, so you can not come back. break them like an artist. So how will anyone be able to make a At the same time, learn how to living? Get creative. Creative work cannot cooperate in networks. Start right now in be automated. Focus on the human engaging in diverse professional learning factor, says futurist Gerd Leonhard, If networks. Put yourself out there, for in our work and our output is robotic this new world of work, you are only as we will soon be surpassed by intelligent good as your network. software agents and machines. Human Think of yourself as a freelancer for creative work is not just art, design, and life and always nurture your networks, the like, but includes making valuable no matter what. Avoid getting lulled things for a specic context, need, or into a false sense of security. To stay market. The internet engaged, take control makes f inding these of your professional HAROLD JARCHE Harold is a speaker, markets much easier. d e ve l o p m e n t . T h e international consultant So how can anyone alternative is rather feudal. and co-author of the learn and prepare for this Working Smarter Fieldbook world of work? We know that training works well




he future of learning is constant. It takes vision and courage to take Technology is evolving faster than the unknown next steps in a direction we can master each innovation. that most do not follow. The distance What isnt advancing as quickly between who you are and who you however is our philosophy on how want to be is separated only by your we learn and, even more, how we teach. aspirations and actions. Innovation isnt just about technology. Drea m : Uncover what is Innovation begins from within. meaningful to you in the long term and To quote one what you aspire BRIAN SOLIS of the worlds to become. Brian is an award-winning author, greatest novelists Do: Do the prominent blogger and keynote speaker. L e o Tol s t oy, things that bring His latest book, The End Of Business Everyone thinks you r d rea m s As Usual was recently named as a Top 10 of changing the and your vision Business Book by Publishers Weekly world, but no to l ifeeven one thinks of if its iterative. changing himself. Its the sum of the parts that While I teach, no matter how contr ibutes to the whole and much I learn, I am forever a student. I the outcome. understand that it is what we learn that Deserve: As you act, react, and inspires us to see how to change the persevere, you discover the secret to future for how others learn and teach as de ning your own destiny follows well. Sometimes we just need a change the laws of physics, for every action in perspectivea change in how we see there is an equal and opposite reaction. the world to shape how the world sees The more you do, the more us. I am in constant pursuit of accepting opportunities you unlock. You earn who I am today and investing in who I what you deserve. want to be tomorrow. But to grow, we This is your time to shape the way need substance and direction. we learn and teach!


Transforming Work

earning in business is all about changing the way we do work, and how we feel about work. Its all too easy to see learning as an activity as a task to be performed. Hardly surprising when the corporate world is full of learning you have to do, whether for basic job knowledge or competence, or even worse, for compliance. We euphemistically call this learning mandatory or non-discretionary, and unfortunately it seems to dominate the day-to-day reality of learning in businesses today. But learning needs to be about much more than this. It is about transforming ourselves and our work. Learning and work are inseparable, but too often we treat them as unrelated activities. The inspiration for learning in business is the ability to do better work, and the ability to work better.

By better work, I mean the ability to do more interesting and rewarding things. The opportunity to advance and improve ourselves the opportunity to be more inspired by our work. The opportunity to learn and develop is one of the key reasons talent is attracted to a company, and the lack of learning and development is one of the key reasons it leaves. It is at the heart of the employer-employee contract. To work better, we need more knowledge, more experience, and more guidance. Learning at work has to demonstrably improve work performance. If we do this consistently, then the L&D function will really be seen as a value enhancer in the business and not as cost to be managed and streamlined.


David leads Elearnitys Talent research and is the author of over 140 research papers and articles on learning and talent technology and innovation.






any learning professionals do not think it possible for evaluation to be inspiring. The Kirkpatricks, however, believe that it is. The human performance focus of the Kirkpatrick Model, one of its hallmarks, makes it so much more inspirational and engaging, than just a system of smile sheets, post tests, analytics and graphs. The f irst of these engagement techniques we refer to as pull-up-a-chair (PUC). During a training programme, the trainer should occasionally close the facilitators guide, pull up an actual or virtual chair and simply engage with participants by asking for their reaction to the material being addressed. This is particularly important for difcult content or skills that will be challenging to apply. Here are a few PUC conversation starters to initiate an honest and productive discussion: Someone tel l us what a l l of this means, in your own words How do think it will go when you actually try to apply these concepts? What kind of support will you need to successfully apply this on the job?

These questions and subsequent discussion serve to bring forth candid concerns from participants. Participants are inspired because they see that someone cares about their performance. Learning professionals are inspired because they gain extremely useful information. A second way to inspire others through training involves demonstrating the ultimate value of a program. It is important to present a story of value, made up of quantitative and qualitative data, and there is no better source for that than the managers of the training attendees. When the time comes to determine the ultimate value of an initiative, engage with these managers to glean from them as much data and information as possible. Remember that the more they have been kept actively involved in the training and subsequent follow-up, the more powerful and inspiring their testimonies will be.


The Kirkpatrick Partners founded the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model an holistic measurement of all of the benets realised from a training programme or initiative


Do you wish that people were more engaged with learning at work? How can we best inspire others (and ourselves) to seek out learning opportunities and learn more effectively? What qualities make a person inspirational? If youre looking for answers to questions like this, then this book is for you. Reed Learning has partnered with Learning Technologies and Learning & Skills 2014 and the Learning & Skills Group to investigate the concept of inspiration in learning. With contributions from 13 experts and L&D commentators, we hope this book inspires your thinking, and helps you inspire others too.

Come and explore at