Saturday, 26 March 2011

Follow this blog

In February, I posted about authenticity, and my posts in March have been attempts to introduce more of this. I’ve also updated my photo. Now for more personal detail.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve been involved in learning and development for rather a long time – to be precise, since 1985, when I started my first job in the profession, as Training Officer of the Glasgow Council for Voluntary Service. It was there that I first designed and delivered training, first subscribed to training magazines (including ‘Training Officer’, still going strong today as Training Journal), first undertook trainer training, obtained my first professional qualification, a City & Guilds Certificate in Direct Training, and joined the Institute of Training and Development.

My ideas and opinions have evolved over a career that has seen me work as a trainer, facilitator, coach, advocate, salesperson, marketer (or should that be marketeer?), consultant, writer, manager and director. I’ve worked on the supply and demand sides of learning and development, in the public, private and voluntary sectors, in organisations varying in size from SME to PLC. My employment and consulting experience covers the industries of publishing, IT, engineering, and economic development, plus central and local government, the NHS, social enterprises and the charitable sector.

I like to think that has given me the capacity to recognise others’ points of view more readily, and to respond better to the needs of different organisational cultures. That doesn’t mean I get it right all the time, although I hope it shows a good range of reference. My main point in contributing this bit of personal history is to reveal some more of myself; they say that helps make a good blog. I’ve also found, more generally, that opening up about yourself encourages others to reciprocate, and that’s something I’m looking for more of in this blog.

I want to move away from this blog being predominantly a monologue, and try to create more of a community, where others come to contribute their ideas and opinions, and to hold debates. I’d welcome comments and responses, and I’d encourage readers to sign up as followers – if nothing else, it helps me confirm I have an audience!

To follow this blog, click on the follow button to the right >>>

Saturday, 12 March 2011


My Chief Executive, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA), recently introduced me to an impressive series of animated talks on YouTube (thanks, George!). The presentation below, by Matthew Taylor of the RSA, is a good example, and YouTube hosts many more 'RSA Animate' clips. (See also Matthew Taylor's blog.) This seems to me a particularly apposite way of promoting a 21st century enlightenment.

As a Scot, I feel duty bound to help encourage new enlightenments, given the leading role my forebears played in the previous one. For anyone who hasn't read it, I heartily recommend Arthur Herman's The Scottish Enlightenment, with its glorious subtitle (in the American edition) "how the Scots invented the modern world and everything in it". But there's no time to rest on our laurels - we have to get on with what's new. And it seems to me reinventing how we organise learning will be a key part of that - see another of the RSA Animate series, Sir Ken Robinson's talk on changing education paradigms.

As always, comments welcome.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Whither CIPD?

I think the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is a great organisation, and I’m proud to be a member of long standing. I often describe myself as having held continuous membership of CIPD and its predecessors for over 25 years – by which I mean I was a member of IPD before it won its Royal Charter, and before that the Institute of Training and Development (ITD) until it merged with the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM).

I voted for that merger. I know learning and development professionals who did not, and they argued that trainers’ interests would be lost in a body that primarily served the interests of human resources (HR) generalists. It’s a long time since that merger, but I often find myself wondering if they were right.

The latest issue of the CIPD magazine, People Management (a title that is little to do with learning) carries a diagram showing “forty years of evolution” (pp 28-29 of the print edition) where the ITD is virtually airbrushed out of history. There’s an image of the IPM journal, but none of any ITD publication.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised: the magazine’s overall strapline is “HR news, comment and jobs…” The institute is often described in shorthand as the body for HR professionals. And the recent revamp of its professional map reduced “learning and talent development” to just one-eighth of the institute’s scope.

Well, I’m not an HR professional; I’m a learning and development professional. And the latter is not simply a subset of the former. The merger was supposed to be a marriage of equals; indeed, numerically there were far more of us in ITD, and I wonder whether that remains the case. I often feel like a second class citizen in CIPD, and I’m a Chartered Fellow, who has spoken at the Scottish and UK conferences, and has written extensively for CIPD publications. If I feel a bit like that, how much more excluded must others feel?

I’ve no intention of giving up my membership. I’m also a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and I have no concerns that there I’m part of a much broader community. But I wonder whether CIPD genuinely serves the interests of learning and development professionals, or whether we’d be better served elsewhere?