Dear L&D, am I your friend or foe?


Just over four years ago three colleagues and I set up a knowledge sharing event at the corporate we worked at. Our 19-storey building housed nearly 2,000 colleagues.

We were a publishing business which was grappling with a lot of change and fast – our traditional print business was migrating online.

I was a journalist and my three colleagues were in a central editorial development team – they were tasked with supporting teams around the business as they migrated online.

We wanted to set up a regular knowledge sharing event, in part because of this change and also because we thought it would be a good idea. We needed to learn new skills and discover new ways of creating digital content.

So, we decided to run a weekly event at which we would share some of the new things we were doing and seeing. The event was called Elevenses and we aimed to run it every Thursday at 11am.

The format was simple – someone or some people would share some useful and relevant ideas and then we would have a discussion. The event would last no longer than 45 minutes.

Our first event was in a training room and it was on Twitter – it was standing room only – see Adam Tinworth’s post about it.

We set up an internal blog to promote events and to share post-event notes and resources. We also promoted our events on Yammer as well as offline – with a promotional pop-up in the office reception on the morning of each event.

The event was a huge success with weekly attendance of 20 or more people. The way we curated the events meant that different people with different expertise were brought together to share what they were working on.

To my knowledge, the event is still going (I left the company just over two years ago).

All this was achieved with no input from the L&D team. They were happy for this to happen and were kept informed of the events we put on. Our events pulled in more people more regularly than the ‘official’ training. Anecdotal evidence suggested the teams of those who attended were faster and more effective at developing the online skills they required.

So, what do you do when someone like me wants to do something like this? Am I your friend or am I your foe?

  • This piece was prompted by a discussion on the changing nature of L&D in corporates between myself and Donald Taylor ahead of the Learning and Performance Institute webinar he is running on Escaping the Training Ghetto. You can read more on this here too.

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