Hello blog readers!
Today I have with me a special guest with me, Adrian Stokes.
Adrian had some wonderful insights and I can't wait to share them with you. So, here you go.
Hello Adrian, for those who may not know, please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I am proud to say that I am the Managing Director of The Training Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the Quality Assurance of L&D at an organisational level and making the role of L&D practitioner a professionally recognised career at an individual level. When I say ‘proud’ I mean pride in working for The Training Foundation, not proud to be an MD! However, I would consider myself first and
foremost an L&D professional, having spent some 22 years in the profession, following a 15 year career in Banking and Wealth
Management. I made a conscious decision to pursue a career in L&D after having the positive experience of a fantastic manager and coach. To use a sporting analogy, having realised what an amazing impact a good coach could have on ‘many’, rather than ‘one’, I decided to apply to become a trainer and develop my training and coaching skills. My employer at the time recommended TAP® Training (the Training Accreditation Programme) for delivery skills, which gave me the practical skills to assist me in delivering structured, learner-focused, engaging training, a skill-set that has served me very well over the years and has greatly assisted me in becoming a successful L&D Manager in my own right. I have worked in the UK and Australia in middle and senior L&D Management roles for major banks and insurers.
On my planned return to the UK in April 2013, I noticed that a good friend and colleague worked for The Training Foundation and was invited to meet with the CEO for career discussions. Having researched the organisation, I was delighted to see that they had won a Queen’s Award for Innovation for their assessable, skills-based design and delivery models and desperately wanted to be part of the story, working with an organisation that was (and still is) having a major positive impact on the quality of training in the UK. The rest is history as they say. I initially took on a role in business development and worked my way through various roles as TAP® Partners Director; Operations Director and now MD.
My decision to work with the company has been self-validated with the organisation winning a second Queen’s Award for Innovation, this time for our unique holistic Quality Assurance
approach to L&D. No other training provider has won a Queen’s Award once, never mind twice!
Please share about the award, since this is not the
The 2016 Queen's Award recognises the TAP® Programme's continuing innovations in the quality assurance of L&D since its first Queen's Award in 2005. That recognised TAP's best-practice Training and delivery skills programmes for L&D Professionals which was Step 1 in a decade-long journey. As a result of Step 1 more than 28,000 TAP-Certified L&D professionals are today employed in some 1,400 organisations in 32 Countries.
TAP®'s quality assurance models for L&D expanded with the addition of Step 2 and Step 3. Now, TAP® comprises a holistic 3-Step Programme which enables the quality assurance of training programmes from start to finish, from defining the business objectives to measuring the business outcomes.
Step 2 is the TAP® Certified Assessor programme. This enables employers to have senior L&D team members trained in TAP®'s unique assessment methodologies. Heads of L&D can now quality-assure that their training design, delivery, e-learning and learning transfer
processes are meeting TAP®'s best-practice Standards. Consistent, high-quality learning experiences are improving retention, transfer and ROI in many organisations.
Step 3, the TAP® MACRO Learning Transfer System completes TAP®'s 3-Step Programme. If an organization is concerned to improve the transfer of formal training into workplace performance, which for many senior HR and L&D managers is today a strategic imperative, MACRO has the potential to really make a difference! To our knowledge, no other training provider has developed a similar approach to quality-assured L&D and there is no similar approach to solving the well-known problem of learning transfer.
What does innovation with learning & development
mean to you?
Innovation technically is anything that is new idea, method or product. To me innovation means being aware of the key challenges
facing L&D and developing new workable, practical solutions, within the operational capabilities of our business (we can’t solve
every problem facing L&D!) that organisations can implement and have a real impact on business performance. The Training
Foundation was borne out of our CEO’s recognition in the 90s that during the 70s and 80s, there was no objective way to measure the performance of a trainer and unfortunately, training was delivered as ‘death by slide’ or lecture style, which most L&D professionals
recognise is not particularly enjoyable, nor engaging, leading to failure of transfer. However, the innovation in objective measurable
design and delivery of trainer training was not formally recognised until the 2005 Queen’s Award.
There is much more innovation needed in L&D, given the wide array of emerging technologies available to ‘deliver’ learning in real-time and to meet the demands of learners. The Training Foundation is conducting research into how we might assist companies work their way through the maze of technologies available and establish an affordable way forward, much as we did in the late 90s and early 2000s in developing an approach to blended and eLearning, a time when L&D professionals found it hard to navigate their way and
develop a logical way forward.
What innovations at TAP lead to the award and such
prestige in the industry in general?
In relation to the winning of the 2016 Queen’s Award for Innovation, this was recognition of our unique approach to the quality
assurance of L&D. Having built a robust diploma framework, incorporating over 20 individual skills-based modular programmes for L&D professionals, we realised that the assessment of skills was key to assimilating skills learned into the workplace. Also, whilst most of our programmes already contained an assessable methodology i.e. delegates are awarded a TAP® certificate of achievement, not attendance, we built a quality assurance Assessor programme for key L&D disciplines such as
training delivery, design for face to face training/eLearning and learning transfer. These programmes are available to organisations
that make a commitment to TAP® methodologies, committing to become TAP® Partners and allows them to quality-control their training in-house.
What’s your favourite industry wide innovation in L&D in the last 5 years? And Why?
I’m biased, but I’d have to say our latest innovation in Quality-Assurance as no other provider has ever won a Queen’s Award, but that aside, I would say gamification. Not that this is entirely new,
but packaged as a concept in a way that L&D professionals can understand and include in learning interventions, can be a powerful tool, particularly for so-called millennials who are not only used to gaming, but expect it to be part of their learning approach.
What do you see as the most challenging part of L&D?
I believe that delivering access to learning in a way that the end-user really wants and measuring the impact of that learning on business performance will continue to be a challenge for L&D. In
addition, the cost of deploying relevant technologies to achieve this aim will be difficult for many organisations with budgets being
slashed and resistance to anything but the more traditional approaches, in which many organisations have already invested. I also
believe that keeping ahead of change and understanding findings in neuroscience about how people learn, weeding out pop
psychology and fads from the important truly effective methodologies will continue to challenge. All too often, L&D (much like it’s
cousin HR) grabs hold of pieces of information, gives them a fancy name and badge them as the latest panacea for all ‘L&D’ evils.
Staying relevant; focusing on business outcomes, not training outcomes when designing learning interventions and delivering effective learning that impacts business performance will always be key.
Where do you suspect the industry leading to in terms of innovation?
I think the industry is headed for more and more social and collaborative learning, with tools, techniques and technologies enabling
it. If I have one concern about this approach, it is the lack of ability to quality-control learning that occurs socially, where there is no oversight or sense-check as to what people are learning. Google, Wikipedia and youtube are fine (I’ve found them very helpful myself many a time) but
would you want a surgeon operating on you in an NHS hospital who has just googled the latest brain surgery technique and
viewed Joe Bloggs performing surgery on youtube, without a serious authenticity and quality check!?
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