It was a 4-day week for me and still included three very different kinds of work:

1. I brought new prospective clients to two different organizations when past course participants asked about new programs in Asia. I hope both of those pan out for the respective organizations. It’s always fun when happy clients follow up; one I haven’t seen in many years.

2. Am working hard this summer with a Thai graduate student on a research project to develop theory and practice for leadership development in (currently) unsustainable industries. Those of you in fashion, food/agribusiness, shipping, and fossil fuels, I’d love to discuss this with you. This interest stems from a decade of designing and delivering leadership development, strategy, and learning programs in these fields with far too little attention paid to transforming individual behavior, organizational cultures, and the industries themselves. It’s time. I look forward to discussing this with you.

3. This week, Anders Gronstedt led a series of webinars on how Fortune and Global 500 companies are using virtual reality to simulate dangerous and important situations, how it’s been called “the ultimate empathy machine” and can contribute to our understanding of inclusion, customer service, etc., and how augmented reality can be used to increase engagement and participation in learning.

It’s got me thinking: Way back in 1999 a couple of us were hired straight out of our PhD programs to build a think tank at USWest devoted to how new media technologies would reshape our work and lives. With over 20 years in learning and culture, I watch clients treat every exciting new technology as a savior/panacea or a doomsday threat to learning and HR (“It’s the end of the LMS!” “It’s the end of fill-in-the-blank.”) We don’t even ask if those were working for us, or if learning is contributing to the culture we’re building and leading.

Digital technology is finally starting to disrupt learning (many of us thought this would happen a long time ago). In my experience, almost every client organization is not spending enough time strategically considering at a high enough leadership level what business, culture, and learning goals will be best suited to micro learning, social learning platforms, etc. and when face-to-face events, programs or meetings may serve their purposes best. Most organizations (not all) are not connecting digital programs all the way from recruiting to onboarding to L&D and follow-up after programs and courses. It is not difficult to do and makes a tremendous difference.

A comprehensive approach to digital communication makes leading your organizational culture, performance management, external comms., and L&D much, much easier and more consistent. KPIs and Objectives sometimes shoot us in the feet here: two current clients are simply L&D employees told to reduce training costs. At what cost are your staff tasked with reducing costs? This siloed, ad hoc approach doesn’t serve anyone. Advising on big, strategic culture & learning questions and shaping your organization’s culture through learning & communication makes for a good week for me.

What are you thinking about and working on these days?