How to Stay on Top of the Latest Trends in L&D Without Feeling Overwhelmed - A Conversation with Don Taylor

FOMO. 

The fear of missing out. 

It’s real. And you probably have it. 

The problem with FOMO is it can lead us to getting sucked into all sorts of new and shiny ideas or tools. Which can be great if you’re always on the lookout for the latest (and if you fully realise that the latest isn’t always the greatest). 

But for the majority of us who aren’t early adopters (and there’s no shame in that), it can make us feel overwhelmed 😩

Like you have to change your whole learning strategy and technology stack every time a new idea starts to spread 🤦🏻‍♀️

Think about it. One year artificial intelligence is all the hype. The next year we all suddenly need an LXP. Then virtual reality's all the hype. 

Some ideas will eventually become accepted ways of how we do L&D. Others will fade like the sun on a warm summer evening 🌇

Nowadays we accept that micro-learning and mobile learning are just part of how we do learning right? These were considered pretty ‘hot’ 🔥 a mere few years ago. 

So the question that begs itself is this: How do ideas spread in L&D?

And how can you get savvier about where you get your information from? What and who is worth paying attention to? 🤔

And how do we shake off the FOMO so we don’t end up investing valuable time and money in shiny new ideas and tools we just don’t need? 

Enter Don Taylor

As always I like to get my answers from the experts so we reached out to Don Taylor.

Don is the Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute and the Chairman of the Learning and Skills Group. 

He’s done quite a bit of research around the topic of how ideas spread in L&D. He’s explored how we make decisions - both consciously and unconsciously and he’s carried out his own research exploring how L&D make decisions. 

So we asked him why some ideas take off and others don’t. We also wanted to know how L&D can avoid being influenced by fads and how they can keep up to date with the latest trends without feeling overwhelmed.  

Don recently joined us for a webinar and in this 👇 episode, you’ll hear the recording of that conversation. 


If you'd prefer to watch the webinar, click 👉 here

Our Favourite Parts of the Conversation

  • [Don Taylor 14:20] Even if something takes off even if it is valuable, it doesn't even necessarily mean that early adoption is a good thing. So I'm not saying here that we should all be running around trying to adopt the latest thing, far from it. It depends on context.
  • [Don Taylor 17:15]  What's striking about this is that things that are becoming what I would call business as usual or becoming accepted as a technology you would expect to use or methodology you would expect to use slowly fall down the table. And you can see this happening here with micro learning, virtual augmented reality, mobile and video.
  • [Don Taylor 29:47]  All the good stuff that we do now was new once. And this is the eternal problem that we face is that if we don't ever do anything new, we're going to miss out eventually on something that's good.
  • [Don Taylor 54:12] Be aware of yourself. If you are somebody who gets very enthusiastic about stuff and has terrible FOMO, terrible fear of missing out. If you're concerned about that, get a friend who's cynical, get a friend who's hard bitten and discuss with them, get them to be your reality checker and vice versa. If you're always looking for stuff that's been proven and implemented for a number of years maybe you're missing out, maybe you want to talk to somebody else who's a bit more enthusiastic.
  • [Don Taylor 54:45]  Seek diversity in your mechanisms of transmission. If you're always on Twitter maybe you need to be doing some more reading. If you're always listening to podcasts perhaps that's one way of getting information, we could all probably do with having more face to face discussions. Variety is the spice of life, if you just used one of these herbs or spices for your food, your food would be bland after a bit, if we can keep it balanced up and variegated, we're much more likely to have a balanced approach to our decision making and also, I'd say, much more likely not to fall under the influence of people who are trying to persuade us one way or the other.

 

Links We Love

Say hello 👋 to Don on LinkedIn

Find out more about the research he mentioned here.

Check out these books 📚

Transcript

*There’s a chance this transcript has a few spelling errors. I use a wonderful transcription tool called Otter. He's usually super accurate but he does get the odd word wrong. But please don’t hold it against him 😊.

[Don Taylor]   0:00  

Welcome, everybody. Great to have you with us. So we're going to press on. 

My name is Don Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute and I'm delighted to be with you today for this webinar. 

 

I'm going to be sharing some results of some research and some thinking that I've been doing about as the title suggests there how ideas spread in learning and development.  



[Don Taylor]   0:52  

Okay, I'm going to press on. 

More people will join us as time goes by but I’ve got a packed load of content to get through and I want to make sure people who have taken the time to be here on time are able to enjoy it and benefit from it.

 

[Don Taylor]   1:13  

I call this striking the spark.

 

[Don Taylor]   1:16  

I'll explain why later on but it's about ideas taking off in learning and development. I'm going to explain exactly what I mean by that later on. My website is at the bottom there, this document will be on the website but it will also of course, Fuse will get it sent out to everybody after the event. I am the Chairman of the Learning Performance Institute and Learning Technologies and I want to say thank you to Fuse. 

 

Fuse have made this whole webinar possible by sponsoring research and by setting up and running and providing the people behind this webinar. They haven't asked for, at any point, prior viewing of the research before it goes out, there is no reason why they should, there is nothing odd in there but they haven't even asked which is splendid. So thank you very much Fuse. 

 

Firstly, a question to everybody in the room and answer in the chat window, if you would please, in the zoom, the webinar chat; Why do you think that some ideas gained popularity and others don't? 

 

If you could drop your answers into the chat window that would be great and it will kick us off thinking about this and then I'm going to crack on and there won't be a lot of other questions but I will be responding to you and please do send to all panellists and attendees so everyone can see what you're thinking.

 

[Don Taylor]   2:41  

I'm laughing because Daniel Rodriguez has labelled me an influencer which is very good of you Daniel. I'm not sure everyone would necessarily agree although somebody did last night here in Berlin said, I hear you're kind of famous, which was enough for me to say certainly not. 

 

Okay, let's do some of these answers and what i'm doing here is framing this so we're all thinking about this question. There are lots of ways of answering the question, everybody's answer is right for them. 

 

James Alex, focus on cost.

 

[Don Taylor]   3:10  

Heather says a compelling enough Why?

 

[Don Taylor]   3:14  

Daniel points to authority, influences. 

 

Nancy says ‘who shouts the loudest’? And it's not necessarily the best ideas that got adopted. True. 

 

Shawn says ‘It can depend on where the idea comes from’. 

It can absolutely, some ideas will fly, others will fail depending on who's pushing it. 

 

Kathy points to shiny and fun versus actually requiring some work and Kathy you are right there. For some people the ease of adoption versus shininess is a really big issue. 

 

Olivia says ‘ideas catch or reflect wider trends in society’. It's a good point and I think it's certainly true in L&D that we're seeing a big focus on personalization for example at the moment.



[Don Taylor]   3:52  

Yeah. Salome says ‘If the way it's framed doesn't resonate with the audience, you're not going anywhere and Kate says the same thing, it depends on your audience. 

 

‘Technical difficulty to influence’ Alex says and that's a really big trend that I'm going to talk about later on. 

 

‘Whether they're communicated with effectively ease to express, that's a really good point from Jean Marie. 

 

I've constantly found ideas that are articulated badly simply don't take off. There is a lot of great  feedback and thinking here and I'm actually finding it impossible to keep up with all the thoughts that are coming through here.

 

[Don Taylor]   4:24  

But I'm going to press on and I hope you've been reading this stuff coming through in the chat, I always find I never do a webinar without learning a great deal and having a great deal to think about from the people in the room.

 

[Don Taylor]   4:39  

One of Christine lockers points, she says it's FOMO, fear of missing out. If people think everyone else is doing it, they may decide to do it themselves. 

 

Okay, I'm going to give you my answer which you might say is kind of begging the point but my answer is because we can be persuaded. Okay, so an idea takes off because we can be persuaded but more importantly we can be persuaded consciously and also unconsciously.

 

[Don Taylor]   5:07  

Let me tell you a story.

 

[Don Taylor]   5:07  

Two weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas for an event and I showed up and it was a 10 hour flight from London. I got to the check in desk and the clerk said, ‘yes, follow the path, the elevators are over there’. 

 

All I wanted was a shower. I stepped off down the pathway and within five seconds I was lost. I was lost quite deliberately on the path of the casino. Here is what the path looked like I couldn't see the elevators. It was a winding path and it took me through a forest a maze of slot machines. The pathway is designed so you get lost and you go off and you go into the slot machines and this is what the slot machines look like, they are all giving me messages of virility and money, appealing to things I know about already, 007, Sex in the City and it is a carefully constructed and very effective way of persuading people to do things without being explicit about it. It's what we call nudging isn't it?, trying to change someone's behaviour but without being clear about what you're trying to do.

 

[Don Taylor]   6:09  

Nothing wrong with that.

 

[Don Taylor]   6:10  

Casinos make their money this way. I was aware of it. I found my way to the elevator and I got to my room and got my shower but it did get me thinking about the whole business of how we are persuaded or otherwise. I'm not saying by the way that things take off in L&D because we are unconsciously persuaded but I do think that's part of it. Here's how I see things. I think we can design things on that vertical axis consciously or unconsciously and the attempt to influence us can be deliberate or it can just be accidental.

 

[Don Taylor]   6:43  

So on the right hand side, what I was experiencing in that casino was nudging, the attempt to alter my behaviour by quite deliberately appealing to my unconscious and they spend a lot of money making sure that everything from the design of the room, the lack of clocks, the lack of windows and light, down to the noises that the machines make, will persuade you to come and play or they could be more explicit about it and advertise and of course, if you advertise something, you may think you're making a conscious decision about it but you may also be affected unconsciously by it. So although I put those two things in separate boxes very often the line between them blurs.

 

[Don Taylor]   7:24  

In addition, of course there's the fact that we can have our behaviour altered quite accidentally, you can serendipitously decide quite consciously to do something without it having been somebody else's attempt to persuade you to do it. 

 

Now this happens a lot, you just see something, well, that's a good idea I'll do it. 

 

Of course we're never quite sure, are we, how much we might be operating a little bit unconsciously there and of course I've left a question mark at the top left hand corner because very often, we will unconsciously do things but apparently completely by accident. 

 

Some people posit that the vast majority of our actions are in that top left hand corner. I've not stuck a label on it because I don't want to stress that but what I do want to stress is that all four of these processes not just the attempts to not just all persuade us, all four of these processes are involved in us deciding whether something is going to be worth following in  learning and development or not and how we decide would be a combination of those and the mechanism of transfer from person to person will also depend. 

 

So it depends on the preferred method of transfer and when I'm at that will become clear of what exactly I'm talking about a bit later on. So the aim of our presentation today our conversation is to look at how we make our decisions consciously and unconsciously about what we should be paying attention to in learning and development.

 

[Don Taylor]   8:56  

By the way, this is not a Daniel Kahneman Nobel Prize winning presentation, there is no single theory for explaining human behaviour here. It will, however, I hope prove useful at least in one or two ways to you. Here's the five things we're going to cover, I'm going to look at what we mean by something taking off or not taking off, two groups of people that I've identified as being important players in this. 

 

In number three, we'll move into this new research I've done and we'll look at the different ways that people value new ideas. 

 

So that list of things that were just you're just answering the question there is all about how we might value learning and development ideas. They can be put into boxes and I think there are three boxes in particular or three buckets which are quite useful for predicting what people will then do. I'll have a look at transmission mechanisms. I think there's a lot more work to be done there. But I'd like to start a conversation with you about it. 

 

Finally, Number five, I'm going to end up by suggesting that we don't have to be passively under the influence of people trying to persuade us. On the contrary, if we just take a little couple of steps we can be much sharper. A bit like hopefully I was in that casino about keeping ourselves on track and getting to the place we want to get to. 

 

Number one - By the way, if you're not from the UK, this is Piccadilly Circus, I often use this photograph. It's got a bus in it, it's got a London landmark and for me it conveys the busyness of a major city like London. Taking off, why do some ideas take off and some ideas not take off?

 

[Don Taylor]   10:38  

Well, the curve that everyone refers to when we talk about this is the Gartner Hype Curve. And here's the familiar set of words we know that this as a technology trigger, things got to inflated expectations come down and slowly get up to the plateau of productivity. Now this is useful. It gives us useful vocabulary, for talking about a very common set of things that we see when ideas take off and learning and development, and I'll be using some of these words in the presentation but what I'm really interested in is what happens right at the beginning.

 

[Don Taylor]   11:15  

What happens here that makes something rock it off? Because not everything does. Not everything takes off. So why do some things take off?

 

[Don Taylor]   11:25  

Another idea.

 

[Don Taylor]   11:26  

Another way of talking about ideas, which you'll be familiar with is, of course, the Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Curve and this was posited by Everett Rogers after his experiments with farmers adopting hybrid corn varieties, he invited people in the five groups that you're familiar with here, innovators, early adopters, the early majority, late majority and laggards who would decide to adopt this information. 

 

A familiar addition to this is Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, he noted that particularly for high tech companies getting customers to move from being early adopters to a much wider use of it, the early majority was a real difficulty and he identified there was a chasm that companies frequently fell into that transition. They simply had to alter a vast number of their processes and ways of developing their products in order to get across. 

 

To get a product to go mainstream is difficult and I remember reading that book in 1991 and being knocked sideways by it, it was so insightful but that's not what we're talking about today. 

 

As I say, think about the Gartner Curve. What I'm talking about is right at the beginning. It's what I call striking the spark that initial moments something takes off and then the fire takes off.

 

[Don Taylor]   12:49  

Innovators and early adopters, we often lump them together when we're talking about the diffusion of ideas but they're actually very different.

 

[Don Taylor]   13:00  

I saw that in the Global Sentiment Survey this year that I carried out and I'll share the results with you shortly about that. 

 

They have different likes,  they just like different things that are new and they value things differently. As we will see shortly, by the way, I'm not comparing myself to Geoffrey Moore here but I do think that it's worthwhile drawing the distinction that this is not Crossing the Chasm this is something else. This is what makes an idea take off, as I said, what I call striking spark it wasn't an idea and that could be anything, technology, methodology, anything moves from being thought interesting by a small group of innovators to being considered actually for use or adoption by a larger group. Now, somebody mentioned earlier, I'm sorry, I didn't catch who but there's a very good point to it, just because an idea takes off doesn't mean it's a good one. 

 

So a few caveats here, firstly, it's not automatic. Not every new idea is going to strike the spark, in fact, the vast majority don't. Secondly, if the spark does get struck and the idea is vividly alive it doesn't necessarily mean its guaranteed value, learning styles took off like wildfire not necessarily a good thing for learning and development.

 

[Don Taylor]   14:20  

Finally, even if something takes off even if it is valuable, it doesn't even necessarily mean that early adoption is a good thing. So I'm not saying here that we should all be running around trying to adopt the latest thing, far from it. It depends on context. I'm always struck when I go to large legal companies in particular how apparently antiquated that IT systems are, they don’t care they're making lots of money. They are risk averse and for good reason as legal companies would much rather keep their systems tied down, familiar and utterly secure and for them in that context it works. Context is everything when it comes to adoption. Okay, so that is us striking the spark. Let's have a look at these two groups that I've been talking about.

 

[Don Taylor]   15:10  

Every year I do this Global Sentiment Survey and I ask one question. What will be hot in learning and development next year and I have this year, was running for the sixth year.

 

[Don Taylor]   15:26  

As always, I got people to choose one, two or three options from 15 options that they thought were hot. About 2,000 people voted from over 90 countries.

 

And by the way, this server will be starting again for 2020 in a few days' time, probably next week. Here are the results for 2019 so this is what people thought about this time last year was going to be hot for 2019.

 

[Don Taylor]   15:55  

Don’t worry too much about the numbers most of the votes are at the top

 

[Don Taylor]   16:00  

There were a total of about 5,300 votes cast by something like 202,000 people. That URL actually, I'm not sure is correct, the correct URL will begin at the end. 

 

[Don Taylor]   16:42  

Please don't worry too much about the exact numbers on here, what I find interesting about this is not just that each year I see how things are changing for people on a particular list but also how that list compares over time. I have been running this for six years now. I can look at the results for a number of years and I can start lining things up because I only change two or three of the options each year, we have some consistency.

 

[Don Taylor]   17:15  

What's striking about this is that things that are becoming what I would call business as usual or becoming accepted as a technology you would expect to use or methodology you would expect to use quickly slowly fall down the table. And you can see this happening here with micro learning, virtual augmented reality, mobile and video. By the way, virtual and augmented reality is a special case and I won't dwell on why that's coming down here but it's legitimate why it's coming down. It has come accepted as something people should use, even if they don't think necessarily they will be using it. 

 

Now, if you look at this form, look at the two red options here in micro learning into mobile delivery, you'd expect them to be falling down. 

 

So in 2019 you would have expected micro learning to be at maybe 7 and 3-5 to 7. You might expect mobile delivery to be down at number 12. 

 

But that's not what happened this year. What happened this year was they all stabilised and in fact mobile delivery bounced up from that downward trend. 

 

What's going on? The clue is in the bottom right hand corner, the number of votes in 2019 was far larger than previous years. I expanded attachment for people who were voting and what happened was I expanded it beyond where it's been before. Before, the people voting largely had been innovators, people who were really up on the latest stuff and wanted to be excited about the newest ideas. Well, things changed a bit this year because I expanded it and we reached people in a different way. 

 

So the result is that we had two groups of voters. First group of voters we were reaching somewhere between day Zero and day 33. And they were, as you can see there, reach via social media rather than anything else. Now, the social media campaign carried on but we largely reach the people from day 34 to day 35 through email and that was through a very consistent campaign of email and it's quite possible to see the spikes of interest taking place as email shots throughout its very, very noticeable. Okay. So much so good. There are two different groups, what does it mean?

 

[Don Taylor]   19:56  

Do you remember what I said about where we would have expected the results to end up? Well, Group A was exactly for micro learning and mobile delivery and indeed all the other ones I've just done apparently were exactly where you'd expect them to be. But Group B were much higher up. In fact, they were much higher up even though they've been in the previous year in 2018. 

 

What's going on?.  Well, what's going on is that we have Group B here being enthusiastic about stuff that Group A is kind of going over. It's almost like Group A is thinking, well, I discounted that stuff I know it's business as usual. Group B is different. Group B is looking at it ,really look at the profile looks much more like Group A or looks like the whole results from about one and a half years ago, between one- two years ago and in contrast, what Group A is enthusiastic about learning analytics and learning experience platforms were two new options on the list and Group B was much more cautious about those

 

And of course you can see that because there's about a ratio is about 400 voters in Group A and about 1,500 voters in Group B. As a result, you can see the total table on the right hand side is much more weighted towards what Group B is thinking. So in other words, that table which I always show as being the results of the survey is an aggregate of these two very different groups. What we know about them we know the innovators are a smaller group that's what I'm calling Group A, they're keen on the new methodologies. If you go through the list, they're very keen on methodologies and they are on social media. 

 

Speculatively, I'd say they're also influences and sharers and enthusiasts whereas the other group - Group B - they're early adopters, that's what I've decided that they do correspond to the curve on the basis of what I saw at the beginning of the year and what I've seen in the latest research, for the familiar they like technology rather than methodology. They are certainly on email. They may also be on social media but it's probably less important for them. That's the point we'll come back to later on point 4 of the menu, when we look at transmission they're probably less noisy and they are almost certainly pragmatists. Now all this is really speculative those last two points are speculative based really on my view of the single question survey that I'm sending out asking people one question. I'm sort of drawing a bunch of conclusions from it. My conclusion is, as you can see that, Group A is the innovators and Group B are the early adopters. 

 

And I can defend that, I'm pretty convinced using the data, I can defend that. 

And the point is that these two groups have a different way of valuing new ideas and that's crucial to their view of what's going on learning and development. So we've defined what we think taking off as we define what we think the two groups are, now it's time to get into this new bit of research that I've done in section  - Some Like it Hot - and the question is, how do people value new ideas? And especially in this research, what I was trying to do was to answer the question what's in people's minds when they say that something is hot? Just as real answered that question earlier in the chat. What were people thinking when they said something is hot or not? 

 

Well, I had to ask more questions to people. I had to delve down a bit. I had to really get to understand people simply asking one question wouldn't be enough. So I conducted some interviews with exactly 13 interviews with some high level, L&D practitioners, most of them based in the UK, others based in Ireland and elsewhere. I ran the survey for a couple of months. So this is people both via email and via social media. Very importantly the people answering it are of course a self selecting sample.

 

[Don Taylor]   24:05  

They answered 14 questions over about nine and a half minutes. Most people did finish it. There are 125 usable responses and the core of that is about 90 people who really answered everything very well. And you can see there's a spread of organisations there but it wasn't just small organisations. It wasn't just large organisations. We had a good representation of, I think we did that I was pretty happy with that spread. Before I go any further I'd like to ask another question. 

 

This one's a poll, I don't normally do polls in the middle of a presentation but there's a good reason for that. I want some numbers. So Imogene if you could run this poll.

 

I'd love, you just let me know if you were and some of this reflects some of the things that we were talking about earlier on. If you were considering a new learning and development technology or methodology, which of these things would be most important to you? Business value? Whether it helps individuals learn better? If there are case studies of success or some other form of proof? Is it being discussed at events by your peers in conferences? And so on.

 

Is it straightforward?

 

[Don Taylor]   25:24  

Is it a cost issue? Cost is an issue that is it. So is it straightforward, not necessarily low cost but a good price and easy to implement? So Imogene and when you're ready to share

 

[Don Taylor]   25:38  

I'd love to see what the results of the survey are. 

I have nothing, by the way, of course, you can have more than one answer here. You can say that it's more than one thing in real life. But here I'm asking you to just ask one which is why we have options buttons, what used to be called radio buttons on the form. 

 

[Don Taylor]   26:09  

So ok, very interestingly, a strong feeling in the audience that it all is all around either business value or individuals learning better and that emulates quite well with what the response of my survey was. But I actually found that the bottom three of these gave very strong indicators of a particular way of viewing the world which I want to share with you, the case studies, the idea of being reviewed and it being straightforward to implement. 

 

Good point raised by Salome here, I chose case studies because it means it has better business value. That's a very interesting point and I think that's something which could mean

 

[Don Taylor]   26:56  

I think a lot of other people might have said the same thing and perhaps there's a potential of cross contamination of the answers, but I think that well, I'll go through the answers that do all the research and we'll come up together with some implications of this. 

 

So, in the middle of these 14 questions that I asked the audience there was this one, question seven. For you, what makes a learning development technology or methodology hot? 

 

By the way this is one of the few points in the survey that I actually use the word hot and here are just some of the answers, you can see that 91 people in total answered the question. I went through them all and I put them into buckets. I just went through and tried to find the themes that were common across them and then I went back and I did it again because it's never good enough to do that one time round, you have to re-evaluate what you've done and then I checked again and then I allowed there to be some of the answers to be in more than one bucket. So, some of the answers like at the bottom there in the middle, a personalised learning journey that is both about helping the individual learner learn better. But it's also a specific bit of functionality learning journeys. So I had in the end seven categories that I put things into and yes, there was some overlap between them. By the way, obviously, I haven't corrected the spelling on this, I was given the results as people have put forward. So when I asked people how they would define hot I could put them into these buckets:

simplicity, practicality and scalability, wanted to know would it work. People were also quite explicit about saying if it has been discussed by people, my peers or in magazines or at conferences and that's what makes it hot, used cases and evidence, individual focus and business value. 

The two other categories which I haven't done here because they were smaller was authority.

 

[Don Taylor]   29:01  

Only three people said if someone who is an authority figure is talking about it that makes it hot and there were 10 people who talked about a specific form of functionality that they were interested in. I was looking for general answers, so I've left those out. 

 

So what I've got here is the beginning to an answer about what makes or how do people think things are hot?

 

[Don Taylor]   29:27  

And I think what makes something hot for people and it falls into, I think, usually one of these buckets and Fiona says, ‘it's so easy to get swept up with all the new and shiny L&D approaches, this risks learning and development, losing connection with the people who are ultimately there to support, it's so important to listen to respond to people that we are there to support’. And I totally agree, Fiona.

 

[Don Taylor]   29:47  

And there are other reasons why it's a good idea not to get swept up with a new and shiny L&D and I will come to a six word summary at the end about how I think we try to avoid doing that. 

 

But on the other hand, all the good stuff that we do now was new once. And this is the eternal problem that we face is that if we don't ever do anything new, we're going to miss out eventually on something that's good. And so obviously the innovators try lots of things, the early adopters try a subset of those, the early majority try subset of those and so on.



[Don Taylor]   30:26  

The new and the shiny is generally to be avoided and yet somewhere in there is going to be a diamond for tomorrow. Here's how people were defining what hot meant to them according to my buckets. So there was some interpretation of mine on this.

 

[Don Taylor]   30:47  

The question previously to this, question six and this is where I'm going to go into a bit of detail about this and don't be shocked. A lot of numbers are going to appear in a second, stay calm.

 

[Don Taylor]   30:57  

I was also interested as I said, in getting in people’s head, what they meant when they said something was hot on the original annual survey that comes out December - January time and they say that and we thought what they mean here. I gave them the list of the same 15 options but rather than saying choose three, which are hot or not. I asked them divide them into five categories: ‘very interesting now’, ‘of interest to the future’, ‘not interesting at all’,

 

[Don Taylor]   31:25  

‘I'm already doing this’ and ‘no opinion’.

 

[Don Taylor]   31:29  

And as you can imagine, when 90 something people answer this you get a lot of data and this is what it looks like. This is pure data. 

 

[Don Taylor]   31:38  

On top of this information my job is to get the information out of this and then hopefully provide the insight on public information that's actually valuable to you. So don't freak out too much at all these numbers incoming, it is a trigger warning as you say, Christine.

 

[Don Taylor]   31:59  

But a couple of things I want to look at on this list.



[Don Taylor]   32:01  

Firstly, have a look at the total you can see that there are something like 90 people answering consistently across all the questions. So interestingly although I said please answer for at least eight and you could have just answered eight buttons and left it, most people seem to press 15 buttons which I find interesting with by and right, I think people were quite invested in this. 

 

Secondly, let's have a look just at this first column here so I've called this ‘very interesting now’ and I've been deliberately avoiding using the word hot. But if you say something's very interesting now, it's kinda like saying it's hot so this is as close as I could get using slightly different words to the original survey but now what I've got is a split not just by seeing what people think is hot which is this column here but in addition I know which of those five buckets, whether they think things should be simple, whether the case study or going forward, whether they should focus on business value. I also know how each of these votes then is associated with somebody who believes that the definition of hot is in a particular bucket. The aim just to repeat is to get inside people's minds to understand what they're thinking about. Alright so, the variation from the mean for responses to ‘very interesting now’ stay with me this is quite technical.

 

[Don Taylor]   33:31  

So what I’ve done is just added up.

 

[Don Taylor]   33:34  

If they were in the bucket for business value or individual focus or any of these five buckets, if that's how they defined what was hot for them. I added up all of the differences between their responses and the average response for the whole group for that particular option. So if for example the group who said business value is important rated personalization as being 2%, higher than the average but they also said that virtual reality was 3% lower than the average then that would be minus one. 

In other words, they would drop just below that bar in the middle. Alright, so how does that accumulation of variation work? You'd expect things to be quite close to the middle here because you'd expect some to be over, some to be under and it sort of equals out.

 

[Don Taylor]   34:35  

 Here's the results

 

[Don Taylor]   34:38  

Almost all of them are in a bracket of between 20% and 40% above average and they probably all would be the same if it weren't that big bar coming down the right hand side showing that the people who thought that something should be, that the test of something being hot or was that it should be simple, easy or scalable. They were far less likely, as you can see from this, say that something but anything on that list was ‘very interesting now’ very much less likely to say it was hot.

 

[Don Taylor]   35:16  

To sum it up in words, respondents who favoured simplicity, the definition of hot, are less likely than the average person will find any methodology hot except for these two, artificial intelligence and learning experience platforms. I think that's quite interesting. It's not like they threw everything out. It's not like they were just curmudgeonly and against the idea of new things all together, a couple of things that were more interested in but generally, they were very much less likely to be in favour of something being very interesting.

 

All right, let's look at used cases and people thinking that things being discussed by their peers was interesting so those two bars look pretty similar and maybe they are so there wasn't much difference between the two groups finding them in different ways in terms of used cases or in terms of discussion for ‘very interesting now’ but when it came to looking at the second option, whether something was ‘interesting in the future’ there was a very large difference of interest in the future.



[Don Taylor]   36:41  

It really struck me looking at this, the difference between those two groups that the people who were interested in case studies were just not interested at all in things being ‘interest in the future’ but the people who who defined something being interesting as being a matter of peer and immediate review were far more interested even than they were about likely finding things interesting for the here and now.

 

[Don Taylor]   37:09  

Again define that in words, if people thought that case studies were a great way of showing that something was hot, they appear to be much more focused on immediate application, they would be interested if something could show some sort of value now but if though you defined what was hot in terms of peer and media discussion you'd be much more likely to be enthusiastic about learning and development technologies, both now and in the future and in fact even more enthusiastic about them coming down in the future. 

 

Now, it's very interesting early on but the results of our poll were that business and individual learning were the two main areas of concern for the people in the room here today and I think Salome’s point about case studies perhaps being a proxy for business success, business value, could well be true, of course it could also be a proxy for individual learning true. Nonetheless because of those two probably are because I can't see them necessarily being associated with a particular area on the adoption curve. I'm putting those to one side at the moment and I'm going to look at those, the three that we've been focused on so far, simplicity of application, discussion and used cases and see how they fare across the five options that I gave. People, remember I had that grid with a lot of numbers in it, those, the five headings across the top in the middle and you can see there's quite a lot of variation between my three groups here for each of the five variations.

 

[Don Taylor]   38:47  

Just want to pull out each of them and focus on one area.

 

[Don Taylor]   38:53  

Focusing to begin with on those who thought the simplicity, ease of application on simplicity, those who thought that was what made something hot. These people were focused, as you can see, on ...They are more likely to back an idea I should say, if it seemed to have immediate applications on them, they weren't really interested in most stuff now and everything else is pretty close to the mean, though I would say for them, if we wanted to summarise them in a short form, you'd say, yeah, they're thoughtful, open to be convinced but they're definitely focused, aren't they, on value.

 

[Don Taylor]   39:35  

The ones who focused on discussion, where very different, then they were I think they could probably easily be persuaded to enthusiasm around an idea for both current use and even more for future use. They seem to be quite, you know, looking to the future and being positive about the technologies, methodology and ideas coming down the track. Also, you can see that they haven't typically done much about. The score of already doing this is quite low. In other words, it's not as if they're already doing a lot of the stuff so maybe they are interested about what's coming down the pipe, they may be less interested actually being involved with implementing things. 

 

Also, I think the ‘no opinion’ one is very interesting, there were very few cases in which they have no opinion. In other words, they had an opinion on pretty much everything so my characterization of this group is that they are keen to consider new ideas and they are ready to share those ideas.



[Don Taylor]   40:46  

Finally, those were interested in some form of evidence but I've summed up as used cases or case studies. We've seen that they were going left to right here, very interested in that they were likely to say something was very interesting now, not likely to have their eye on the horizon for the future. 

 

They had a very large above average score for saying things were not interesting at all, it was almost as if either they could use it now or they just weren't going to consider them.

 

A very low below average score for already ‘doing this’. In other words, it's like these people are picking from a list and implementing those things and not implementing everything else so if you wanted to characterise this group, I would say that they are, as you can see there, focused on shared case studies and looking for immediate value, happy to decide if something's applicable to their need but not the decisive seekers of value now. 

 

All this comes with the usual caveats of course, this is a small self selecting sample but I do think it's a useful way of thinking about how what we think of as being a fairly homogenous group, people in learning and development have in fact got very different ways of thinking about the world and responding to it and they will reflect those and their answers to things despite perhaps superficially being the same. Remember that slide all those different quotes and a lot of them seem the same but I think we can probably put these three people roughly against the adoption curve like this and the title of this graph, I think, is one of the snappier titles you'd come across ‘Different Conceptions of Learning and Development may Position Individuals on the Everett Rogers Innovation Curve’.

 

[Don Taylor]   42:39  

The peer media people are keen to think about things being hot and share their opinions. There are for me in the innovator section. The other end of the scale we've got the use cases we've seen there, they are decisive and they're going to work when something has already been shown they can adopt or think of something for adoption when something's been proven to have value and in the middle of the people are focusing on simplicity. It's not hard and fast, those things could move left and right and that little caveat and bottom right hand corner I have to just repeat as it’s very important ‘our preliminary results unreplicated from a small sample, they have value but must only be treated as a guide at this stage’. I don't want to be somebody who's done a survey and runs around pretending that they've discovered the cure for cancer. However, I'm looking forward to doing more research into this. I think it's absolutely fascinating.

 

[Don Taylor]   43:34  

All right, so we've had number three here, we've looked at what it means for something to take off. We've looked at the two groups, we've had a look at actually the different categories that we can put people into which help us predict, I think, where they are on the adoption curve.

 

[Don Taylor]   43:51  

But how do those ideas pass from one group of people to another?

 

[Don Taylor]   43:54  

What's the mechanism for transition? Transmission I should say.

 

[Don Taylor]   44:01  

Right, I'm going to ask you guys another question because I've been chatting a while and I need a glass of water.

 

Well, how do you think?

 

[Don Taylor]   44:08  

Let me share this question with you, you can share your answers in chat. How do you think people keep up to date with new things in learning and development? And I've said the word tools there. Let's not worry about tools too much. How do you think people keep up to date? What ways do they hear about new things in learning development? 

Please go to the chat and share your answers and let's see how your answers compare with what we've got in the survey which really quite surprised me actually.

 

[Don Taylor]   44:41  

Thank you, Jean Marie. 

 

[Don Taylor]   44:50  

A lot of stuff is coming through. It's always like this on webinar. Nothing happens at all then it all comes through at once. 

 

Jean Marie says ‘People I follow on social media’ 

and that’s echoed ‘LinkedIn’ says Salome and Philip. 

Christine says ‘Twitter’.

 

[Don Taylor]   45:06  

‘Webinars and seminars’ says Nancy and I think that I'll come back to that later on that I didn't include that unfortunately.

 

Christine says ‘Actual human conversations’, I'm not surprised you said that Christine and you'll be impressed by the result, I think.  

 

Again, Alex onto ‘LinkedIn’. 

 

Kathy, ‘I'm interested in internal company notes because there's something more about that’. That's interesting. 

 

Fiona says ‘Twitter, Twitter and Twitter’.  

 

‘A whole bunch of things says Heather LPI, fantastic, The Learning and Performance Institute glad to hear that.

 

[Don Taylor]   45:42  

A real slow, real slow things here.

 

[Don Taylor]   45:50  

‘It's all about oops’ says Amery but okay

 

[Don Taylor]   45:55  

Slightly cryptic but there we are. Um,

 

[Don Taylor]   45:59  

I asked this question to people in a couple of ways as Andrea says ‘It's all about the people I follow’ Thank you for that.



[Don Taylor]   46:07  

Last question due to the survey respondent in a couple of ways and firstlyI just asked the people about social media because that's come up a lot. We'd expect that to be one of the ways in which people are interacting with people and learning from them. And I asked people what is your use of Twitter and you can see that 48% of people said they were active users.

 

[Don Taylor]   46:30  

I also asked them how to keep up to date? I asked them to rank tools or not tools, methods, if you like. Which of these is most useful to keep up to date? So One is the most useful,  Five is the least useful and as you can see I've got the arrows there to try and make it clear, going to the left is most useful, going to the right is least useful and there we go. ‘Twitter’ at the top seems to be the winner and ‘Conversations’ - I'm sorry, Christine - seems to be the loser, face to face or online. 

 

Webinars I would categorise as conferences and events and by the way I also asked a free text question on this and podcasts came out as the most popular answer for that but also unlighted a books being an important member of that.

 

Alright, so far it's looking like Twitter is the way people think, they got different ideas about what makes something hot and how they are spreading those ideas to other people so far it looks like it’s Twitter but if you take this question # 9 and you break it down a bit. It's more complicated. 

 

That blue line that is shaped like a ladle, a dipper in American term; it goes from number one being in the middle, drops down and then comes up at the other end and that's Twitter. So it's got a very low average because most people are rating it very low apart from that big kicker #5.

 

[Don Taylor]   48:04  

That's a really polarised opinion, it looks like people either think Twitter is really useful despite the fact that almost half of them have frequent use of Twitter. It looks like only less than 25% of people bank it as being their number one best way of keeping in touch with new things and a lot of people are saying it's by far and away the least useful of those. 

 

And Christine, you'll be delighted, the considerable minority of respondents said events and conversations were ranked highly for keeping up to date. Now, Christine has raised the point in in the chat but I met most of the folks on Twitter in that space before we started talking in real life and there is something to that and it might be with present people with a false dichotomy, a false choice and it's very difficult to actually separate these things out. 

 

But what this is telling me is that conversation, meeting people and sharing things is more important than I had anticipated when we came into this and I'll come back when I wrap up in about five minutes’ time.

 

[Don Taylor]   49:11  

And look at the grey line in the middle, it sort of goes, it's been mediocre. It goes between about 17 and a half up to 25%. It's not one thing more than that and that’s LinkedIn.

 

[Don Taylor]   49:23  

The responses to ‘LinkedIn’ were quite categorical. Two thirds of people describe themselves as active LinkedIn users. Notice that they had noted the LinkedIn account and yet it's not seen by very many people as being a particularly strong tool for keeping your spine active. The result that we have in chat here a lot of people ranking LinkedIn very highly as I would myself. So for me this graph here with the lines going up and down tells quite a story about what's behind our assumptions. We might assume because people use the tool a lot as they do here that it's therefore something they pick up, they would rate higher as a way of getting in touch with the latest learning and development but it ain't so.

 

[Don Taylor]   50:09  

Let's look finally at people who didn't use Twitter. So people who are rare users of Twitter or did not have an account at all. Very interestingly, if you think about that red column I gave you of the ‘very interesting now’ all of the options in that column, they were more likely than the average population for every single one of the 15 options to describe them as very interesting now. And for 13 out of 15 options, they were much less likely than the average to say they're already doing this. What this suggests to me is that people who are not on twitter at all or don't use it very much are not being exposed to debate on Twitter not having it suggested to them either that something is great or that it's not great and therefore perhaps they have a general sense of optimism but about what they're seeing. They're about the trends that I'm asking about.

 

[Don Taylor]   51:13  

So how do ..., yes, both promoted but also lambasted on Twitter.

 

[Don Taylor]   51:19  

And the second thing that they're not already doing this suggests to me they are not early adopters.

 

[Don Taylor]   51:26  

So what we have here, I think there's a bit of evidence that suggests that Twitter is definitely a tool of transmission, in conjunction with the other bits of evidence. Definitely cold transmission at the left hand side of the adoption curve so my conclusions are that the perception of what people value what's hot  affects how people perceive a particular innovation.

 

[Don Taylor]   51:48  

So people as we saw if they think that simplicity, ease of implementation is what makes something hot, they are less likely to begin about anything in particular being new, they're less keen to think that's hot. Whereas people who define something as hot as being something that people are talking about are much more likely to vote for that being hot now and if it's coming down the line, fantastic, they're really enthusiastic about it. 

 

The transmission mechanism does seem to vary. It seems likely as I've just said that Twitter is used to spread ideas initially but other mechanisms including conversations become more important spreading ideas later along the adoption curve.

 

[Don Taylor]   52:37  

And I would definitely recommend to anybody here to read Ed Keller and Brad Fay who've done a lot of work on how ideas spread by word of mouth through face to face contact rather than on social media.

 

[Don Taylor]   52:56  

And it turns out, it's a tremendously important way of ideas spreading not in learning development, they're looking at marketing a product.

 

[Don Taylor]   53:04  

But it went down through the case that hearing somebody face to face has a lot of impact in comparison seeing something on Twitter or elsewhere and the normal caveats of course apply and I only drawn here and shared my opinions with you that I'm pretty confident I can support and I'm looking forward to doing more research in this area. So that's what we've looked at. 

 

Finally, how can we avoid being under the influence of pernicious marketers and so on? What should we do? Well, I hate sounding…well, to go back to the beginning if you remember we had said that all four of these ways of us being influenced are out there and when we make a choice about something being hot or not or backing a new idea to giving it our support, we will be making a choice driven by an idea that's formed as a result of one or more of these processes. The best way in my view, looking at this, of safeguarding against this is and I hate to sound like a motivational poster, it is to be self aware and seek diversity, those six words I was talking about right at the beginning. 

 

[Don Taylor]   54:12  

But be aware of yourself. If you are somebody who gets very enthusiastic about stuff and has terrible FOMO, terrible fear of missing out. If you think that people talking about something is really important, you're in that yellow group of the peer/media discussion. If you're concerned about that, get a friend who's cynical, get a friend who's hard bitten and discuss with them, get them to be your reality checker and vice versa. If you're always looking for stuff that's been proven and implemented for a number of years maybe you're missing out, maybe you want to talk to somebody else who's a bit more enthusiastic and gung ho.

 

[Don Taylor]   54:45  

Also seek diversity in your mechanisms of transmission. If you're always on Twitter maybe you need to be doing some more reading. If you're always listening to podcasts perhaps that's one way of getting information, we could all probably do with having more face to face discussions. Variety is the spice of life, if you just used one of these herbs or spices for your food, your food would be bland after a bit, if we can keep it balanced up and variegated, we're much more likely to have a balanced approach to our decision making and also, I'd say, much more likely not to fall under the influence of people who are trying to persuade us one way or the other.

 

[Don Taylor]   55:25  

Here's some of the books on my further reading list. Originally, I had rather more on this, I had a whole bunch of books and papers and so on but I would definitely recommend reading these books all of which I've read for the benefit of this and I've cheekily put my own Global Sentiment Survey there at the bottom, I'm not trying to suggest it ranks alongside all these books but I would definitely recommend reading it because I've been talking about it all the way through this. 

 

I'm going to drop the URL into the text chat so you've got that. All of these books but particularly the stuff by Robert Cialdini could be an eye opener for you in terms of how we can be influenced without being aware of it and some of these books are for marketeers, some of them are for people to be aware of Rory Sutherland is an advertiser his book, I think Alchemy is only available at the moment and soft copy. They're all worth reading to understand more about this field of ours.

 

[Don Taylor]   56:26  

I hope this has proved valuable. I've gone on about the caveats all the way through. I will say though in support of what I've been saying, I think it stands up. I think we've got different groups of people with different definitions of what's hot and we fall under their influence one way and the other by that variety of different mechanisms. Let’s stay sharp, when we think about how we are influenced and how we're influencing others, remember to be aware of yourself and to seek diversity. 

 

And that is me done with two minutes to spare so if there's any questions please throw them into the text chat area.



Nihal Salah
Aug 11 2020

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