Meet your new co-worker: a ‘cobot’

By Adriana Hamacher

Screeching, scary headlines along the lines of “Robots are taking our jobs!” mask a real trend that is emerging: collaborative robots, AKA cobots, which augment, rather than remove, human labour. Compact and highly-flexible, cobots are designed to work safely alongside humans, as opposed to behind a barrier or inside a cage. They are among the fastest growing segments in the robotics market and global sales are expected to reach $3.3 billion in just five years, according to one estimate. So we’ll be seeing a lot more of them very soon.

So what are the implications for the humans who have to learn how to work with these cobots? Continue reading


What motivates self-directed learners?

By Richenda Sabine

Graphic of carrot on a stick to illustrate motivating self-directed learnersWhat motivates you? Is it money, purpose, or something else? According to Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) our basic needs of security, identity and stimulation have to be met before we progress to self-actualisation (growing and developing to reach our individual potential).

Consider this in the context of learning. Without motivation, learning is rarely effective, so how do you motivate learners in the first place?

The answer, it turns out, is that they can largely do it for themselves.

Daniel Pink, in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us‘, dismisses the carrot-and-stick approach and tells us to forget everything we think about motivating people. He believes that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and the world.

This view is borne out In the organisational context of today by the phenomenon of the self-directed learner, which has been well documented in research from learning benchmarking experts Towards Maturity, telling us that:

  • 88% learn more by finding things out for themselves, rather than through F2F training
  • 87% know what they need to learn in order to do their job
  • 74% know how to access what they need for learning

The research also shows a worrying disconnect with what some learning managers think about their learners, indicating that it is more than ever important to understand what motivates the self-directed learner.

There are two types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic – internally generated and comes from personal enjoyment or from a sense of obligation
  • Extrinsic – generated externally from objects, other people and the environment

The burning question in the world of workplace learning is how to keep these two types of motivation aligned, and not in contradiction with each other, so that self-directed learners stay engaged and motivated.

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Can L&D really think like marketers?

By John Helmer

Man holding sign saying 'Think Tank'Learning professionals are being encouraged to think like marketers in order to meet the needs of today’s increasingly self-directed, peer-directed learners. But doing so can lead L&D into difficult waters.

This was just one of a number of fascinating insights that arose from our latest Think Tank dinner.

We assembled an invited group of L&D leaders to discuss these issues in a three-part discussion held under Chatham House rules. Contributing to the debate were delegates from the worlds of Finance, Mining, Telecomms, IT and commodity trading.

You can read highlights of the discussion here.

But for those who want a deep dive into the third part of this fascinating discussion, read on, as we address the following question:

Part 3: How will technology shape the future of learning in a post-course world?

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Towards Maturity points the way forward for L&D

By John Helmer

Knob labelled risk turned to minimumIn an industry that tends to lapse into inspirational memes at the drop of a hat, we too often spout motherhood statements about innovation while conveniently ignoring its more troubling flip side, risk.

There is no innovation without risk. And this, one could argue, is the nub of the problem faced currently by L&D in the UK as revealed within the pages of Embracing Change, the industry benchmark report released this week by Towards Maturity. The risky business of learning innovation seems just too rich for the blood of many in training, a branch of the enterprise that, historically, has not had that much to do with the sort of high-stakes investments that digital transformation often requires.

Partly in consequence of its back story, training has lagged in adoption of digital technology when compared to its swankier cousins, marketing and finance. By comparison, training comes across in the numbers (if not in the rhetoric) as unadventurous and risk-averse. Course-based, stand-up training is still massively dominant in UK organisations, and training continues to be seen as a cost centre, rather than as the engine of growth and competitive advantage.

However. While the headline result of this year’s benchmark research – ‘70% of L&D teams fail to improve business productivity’ – might seem dispiriting; and Clive Shepherd, for one, pulled no punches in pointing out exactly how ‘stuck’ the report shows L&D to be, there are clear indications in the report of what L&D should do to improve this situation, and a growing evidence base on which it can draw in doing so.

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