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What can L&D learn from Nigella Lawson?

Adam Meek
Jul 21 2020

I don't believe you can really cook unless you love eating

I’ve been thinking a lot about how learning works and while making a particularly joyous dessert laced with tonnes of booze and chocolate, something suddenly sprung to mind  - I learn to cook/bake in exactly the same way I learn at work.

With a spoon in my hand and chocolate on my chin, I started writing all this down.

In my eyes, Nigella Lawson has one of the most successful learning infrastructures I have come across, however, we don't necessarily value it because, for the most part, it's entertainment.

But if you look at the comments on her website and books she’s written, the number of people she's taught to cook cannot be ignored.

So why is Nigella the perfect example of a learning offering that works?

  • She starts her recipes with an emotional connection - humour, lust, jealousy, among others.
  • She includes an attractive photo reinforcing the emotion above, highlighting the possibility of what you might make if you complete the recipe.
  • She makes it clear what you’ll need for the recipe
  • She includes tips to go the extra mile
  • She reinforces the why (it's gonna taste good) throughout
  • She keeps it as simple as possible with a step by step process.

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, Involve me and I learn

In the modern age, her books and hour-long TV shows shouldn't exist. We are constantly told bookshops are dying, people don't read anymore, millennials have 2-second attention spans, yet we are buying more recipe books and watching more TV from a wider range of sources than we ever have.

The benefits of slowing down with a book or watching normal-ish people do something with a bit of effort is very attractive to most people. (going by book sales and viewing figures anyway)

On top of this, we now attend more cookery classes than ever before. They have a simple format, hosted by local experts (usually off MasterChef) who have already learnt the skills we’re trying to master (probably recently), you create something or multiple things with people you don't know in nice places with coffee or wine.

All of this content and events, like cookery classes, are indexed by Google, available on any device with money, time & want being your only restriction to how much of it you do.

So what can L&D learn from Nigella?

  1. Start by connecting emotion to the ‘Why’ of any process, and make the learning entertaining. 
  2. Make sure you provide everything needed to complete the process or learning. i.e. Don't send someone to an HTML & CSS workshop without a laptop.
  3. Provide a simple process with the fewest steps.
  4. Add in extra tips/tasks around this process ready for when the learner is feeling more comfortable.
  5. Reinforce the importance of this process/learning throughout (You will make more sales/save money and time)
  6. Make it easily accessible, anywhere
  7. Support the process with experiences. Include face-to-face or very high-quality digital content.

The final piece of this puzzle is marketing. 

Nigella's marketing machine is phenomenal. From websites that work on any device, to search engine optimisation, BBC TV shows that either make you want her or want to be her, to her personality - ultimately she's a brand and a very visible one at that. 

Learning can leverage this by changing its brand. We no longer need to deliver training by request, instead, we should build things for people to use as and when they need it.

Bring people together, get them to create something they can take away (figuratively or physically), make process support content easy to find, empower people to self-serve and provide them with a budget to spend on things you can’t possibly provide, giving them experiences they truly value.

Keep all of this in mind when designing your learning offering and you will be rolling in engagement and ROI just like Nigella is.

As always, please do challenge me on the above. I am conscious it is not my day job to muse about these things, but I do try to keep notes and this one evolved from a number of conversations with clients and being home more than usual. (due to a broken foot, not COVID).

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