Reflection in a mirror of tree lined street

It’s always tempting at the beginning of a new year to go raring into the future. But this year I’ve decided this year to take a look back at some of the things we’ve achieved at LearnPatch and itsdevelopmental over the last year.

We work with some fantastic brands, teams and individuals and we are proud of the work we do with them. Our work is very varied, ranging from copywriting, report writing and journalism to consulting and advisory work on branding and comms. There’s a lot of facilitation in our consulting and advisory work, plus some training too. We are also involved in a mix of other activities – activities that people often don’t know we do, which is partly why I am sharing them with you now.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights:

Marketing and comms workshops

We love facilitating discussions and we love looking at how organisations present themselves to the world through their brand and communications. We’ve really enjoyed helping some of our clients explore these areas. We have done this a variety of ways, such as designing workshops that really got to the heart of clients’ communication challenges. This isn’t easy, but is so important because understanding your communication challenges and changing the way you talk about yourself can massively change your impact in the marketplace. Establishing what needs to change leads on to the thorny issue of how. Get the first bit right – establishing the need for change – makes getting the second bit right a whole lot easier.

Guiding teams through the myriad options is challenging, but we like a challenge. It’s exciting, it’s rewarding and we love getting our hands dirty with the how and why. As independent advisors, we offer an external but informed perspective – we will challenge you on what you do and why. Our understanding of the market and of the media landscape enables us to make those challenges really effectively and it’s something that our clients really like about us.

Curation in learning – CIPD conference session

A lot of our work is collaborative. We benefit hugely from the input of others – it’s part and parcel of the creative process. Curation is a real passion of mine (which is why we built LearnPatch) so it was great to be asked to run a session on curation in learning at the CIPD’s L&D Show. The session was scheduled to take place in a room with theatre style seating, despite the fact it was promoted as a workshop. I wanted the session to be focused on ‘doing’ curation rather than talking about it and was lucky that two friends and colleagues – Mike Morrison and Nigel Paine – encouraged me to design a curation challenge. This involved selecting five pieces of information to support some learning on a specified topic. The aim was to get groups thinking about what makes useful information, as well as what makes information credible. Groups had their discussion outside of the room and it was really good eavesdropping in on some very thought-provoking discussions. I had some great feedback from the session and would like to thank Mike and Nigel and all the participants for making it such an enjoyable 80 minutes.

CIPD learning advisory board

Several times a year I am invited to a meeting of the CIPD’s learning advisory board. It is a group of senior L&D practitioners and consultants convened by Andy Lancaster, the CIPD’s head of learning content. These are interesting meetings because the members of the group are asked to provide feedback on Andy’s work and on the vision for L&D at the Institute. I feel privileged to be in their group, sharing thoughts and insights with people who have a lot of industry expertise. I enjoy feeding back my thinking on what the Institute is up to and how it is tackling the big challenges facing corporate learning.

World of Learning conference programming

In 2018, I learnt how to design a two-day conference programme. It was very exciting to be asked by the organisers of the World of Learning conference to put together the programme and even more exciting to actually do it. The hardest bit was identifying the key topics that needed to be discussed in the conference but it was also the most rewarding bit. My main role was interviewing industry experts and practitioners on their key challenges and then finding people to talk about those key challenges. It was a privilege to talk to so many interesting people and I really enjoyed the challenge of finding practical stories about sometimes complex learning challenges. The conference is very practical in focus and I hope the delegates found the sessions useful.

Award entries

Winning awards is important for businesses. Last year we had the opportunity to bring a journalistic approach to a client’s award entry. That meant us putting the story of the customer at the heart of the entry. By interviewing the customer and using their story, our client was able to convey the impact of their work in a far more powerful way. The success criteria for the entry was simple – get through to the judging next stage of the awards. And that’s exactly what happened.

Humanising a corporate brochure

Corporate brochures are often rather stuffy and for good reason – they have to convey dry content. Or do they? We helped one client move away from dry content by persuading them to put a customer centre stage of their corporate brochure, with lots of other stories linking to it. We did this because we knew it was that customer’s story that would resonate with the audience, not dry corporate data. We really believe this approach brought the brochure to life.

All of this happened because we had a good discussion upfront with our client about how to approach the brochure in a way that would make it more engaging and accessible, rather than just following standard brochure format. In collaboration with them, we developed a completely different concept. We followed the concept discussions up by interviewing all the key stakeholders and incorporating what they had to say into the brochure in a way that was succinct, engaging and on message.

LNTV research interviews

Learning Now TV is a streamed web TV channel dedicated to corporate learning. In each episode I am interviewed about a piece of research related to organisational learning and development. This is a great forum for introducing new research and data about learning, media and communication – something the industry is keen to embrace. It’s great to be part of that.

Our first panel webinar on content marketing

Towards the end of the year, we ran a panel discussion webinar on content marketing for learning suppliers. Three panelists, all senior practitioners, joined us for a discussion on what supplier content they find useful, what they would like to see more of and the best channel to receive it on/through. We had nearly 50 sign-ups and a very stimulating, animated conversation throughout the session. The panel shared some really challenging insights. The feedback from this webinar was great, both from the panelists and the sign ups. In fact, the feedback was so positive that we will be running more webinars this year.

Getting Stuff Done

At the end of 2017, Doug Shaw and I ran a session at a Learning and Performance Institute event called Action for Digital Literacy. The aim was to explore digital skills and to encourage delegates to do something different in the year ahead. As a result, we ran a successful month-long pilot exploring getting stuff done. Doug and I continued that project, which we call Getting Stuff Done, and we use it to set goals and tasks and share accountability for achieving them. As the project has developed, we have learned a lot about how to use Slack as a productivity tool, communication tool and co-creation tool. This insight has helped shape some interesting projects, including developing a learning community for a global organisation. This is an emerging area in L&D and I look forward to developing this work and delving deeper in the year ahead.

So there you have it. We are looking forward to developing these projects and more in the year ahead as well as continuing to create and curate great content. Here’s to a rewarding 2019!