A Few Things We Learned at the CIPD L&D Show 2016


On 11th and 12th May 2016 the Olympia London Exhibition Centre was subject to an invasion of thousands of professionals from HR, L&D and various other fields, all keen to discover the latest trends, products and services available in the world of L&D.

It was of course the annual CIPD L&D Show, an event which always gathers an impressive crowd and never fails to deliver some interesting insights and ideas for better L&D practice. As with many events of this kind, trying to report on all the inspirational ideas and solutions we discovered just isn’t possible, so below we discuss some of the most interesting things we learned (though there are plenty more).

Relevant training doesn’t necessarily mean related – What could a jet simulation or a method acting class teach an office worker or engineer about their skills? You might assume the answer is nothing, but as demonstrated impressively at the event, when used in the right way, a seemingly irrelevant activity could be the key to real and long lasting skills development. While context is certainly helpful to understand needs and how to apply skills, truly impactful development programmes don’t constrain themselves by the context of a learner’s role, they focus on the skills needed, and find unique ways to help develop these. Effective experiential learning is successful because it pushes people outside their comfort zone and gets them to think about their skills in a broader way, and if this can be achieved, applying it back in the workplace is far easier.

70:20:10 is only a guide – For many 70:20:10 is the gold standard for L&D, widely considered the ‘best’ way to promote better learning, and it remains an important aspect of many successful programmes. But the conference helped remind us all that L&D is about people, and unfortunately all people are different, which means that while 70:20:10 is a good guide, it’s not a recipe that if followed can guarantee a good result. By and large, most people will respond well to the approach, but equally there will be a proportion of individuals where their ratios don’t match the above. Those that struggle with social interactions, for example, may benefit from a greater degree of formal learning, and those that don’t respond well to formal learning may chose not to do any and prefer to get all the knowledge they need from social support and practical approaches. So while 70:20:10 can be used to guide your development programmes, the most important thing to consider is still the needs of the individual and what’s most beneficial for them.

L&D is starting to lose the ‘L’ – One of the most striking things we noticed at the conference is that the ‘learning’ part of learning and development is starting to take a back seat. For many organisations the focus is no longer on learning specific skills, instead it’s about overall employee and organisational development, and topics such as wellbeing, engagement and culture change are taking centre stage.

There is still more to learn – The thing that was most evident at the event was that L&D is still a growing field and there remains a lot more to learn to enable employees and organisations to achieve their best. While evolution has occurred in terms of the focus of L&D, the growing field of neuroscience and on-going developments in psychology mean that there will always be new and improved ways to approach professional and personal development; as L&D professionals, we just have to make sure we are up to the challenge of embracing them.