Rewiring Corporate Learning

First Understand Where You Need to Go.

This series of short think pieces focusses on rewiring corporate learning. But we should start by asking why?

Not simply for the sake of learning, not to amuse the learning staff or give them new challenges, but for something more fundamental and substantial: keeping up with the way work is changing. McKinsey published a list of the ten massive technological changes that would transform business during the next five years and at least five of these have a direct impact on the learning operation. In no particular order they are:


1. Distributed co-creation moves into the mainstream 

2. Making the network the organisation
3.Collaboration at scale
4.Experimentation and big data
5. Innovating from the bottom of the pyramid
Let me add a sixth:  work is learning and learning is work.


What are these saying in general terms:  quite simply that there is nowhere to hide in twenty-first century organisations.  The days of isolation, non-communication and internal baronies are coming under pressure. Learning outside the workflow is ineffective learning. Also, clear dividing lines between what you define as core staff, and whom you define as suppliers or customers or indeed contract staff are now dead in most places and dying in others. If you develop one group with out the other groups you make less impact and deliver fewer performance gains. How about corporate learning? What does it do in response?

If anyone is naive enough to believe that the learning team can continue to operate in the mode of the last century, unencumbered by the swirls of change sweeping through the rest of the organisation, then think again.

If you want an agenda then address those six ideas and work out how you will respond in the context of your employer.  What are they doing, how can you you step upto the mark?  If they are doing little about this, then your task is to image the future by taking the lead.

Fishbowl Experiment

In 2016, PSK Performance hosted its first ever interactive Fishbowl Experiment in Sydney and Melbourne. The events brought together professionals from Recruitment, Talent, HR, Learning and Development and Change agents in this modernised Fishbowl format.

The purpose; to discuss, collaborate, share knowledge, contribute experiences and opinions across a wide range of topics within industry.

If you have yet to discover or come across a Fishbowl discussion this short video is an insightful introduction to the format.

The elements that make the Fishbowl format different, as opposed to a traditional panel, is the flexibility and interactive approach where conversations are focused on engaging in two way open dialogue between the panellists and questions raised from members of the audience seated inside the Fishbowl.

As the host and an observer, it was pleasantly surprising at how easily the audience adapted to this format and joined the Fishbowl by engaging in conversations with the panellists. What was even more unexpected was how open and unguarded the panellists responded and felt comfortable to share their views and experiences with the audience.

Some of the diverse topics the audience raised included;

  • where to begin implementing 70:20:10 framework,
  • effective ways to introduce a mentoring programme,
  • acknowledging the power of learning and that change of behaviour can occur upon reflection,
  • what capabilities matter for the learning and development professional in the future’ and many other challenges faced in industry today.

One of the panellists Simon Terry wrote in his blog, ‘Put conversation first’.  There is nothing more powerful than real conversation where both the panellists and audience engage in collaborative, meaningful and diverse discussions and together everyone is naturally engaged and learning.

Was the experiment a success?

As far as one could measure from social media (#PSKevents) and survey feedback, yes. The Fishbowl format has certainly demonstrated that by bringing professionals together where sharing is learning, new concepts and ideas can be introduced in an interactive setting that widens our horizons and encourages participation by collaborating with each other.

As one participant described the Fishbowl format; “expertise can come from anywhere on the floor and the audience interaction element helped to give the panel session a conversational feel. It felt like the speakers were chatting with one another (and us in the audience), rather than presenting”.