Tonight, myself, my colleagues and 800 close friends (ahem) will descend on London for the annual Learning Technologies Awards. They started life more than 10 years ago as the E-learning Awards and I have been involved with these awards as an entrant, a collaborator, ghost writer and for the last five years, a judge.
For 2016, I judged two categories, chairing one and a panel member on another. Having sifted through an impressive number of entries in the summer, the shortlisted entrants all presented during an informative, exhilarating and exhausting two days at The Oval in September. I meant to write this post back then but it feels appropriate on the day of the award ceremony to share it now. Because my over-riding reflection from those two days was how inspiring the dedicated learning professionals are that I saw passionately present their work.
I saw L&D people who are fighting the good fight, trying to evolve what their people do and how they learn – often without much support or buy-in from the broader organisation (at least initially), frequently without much budget and sometimes pitched against much greater forces than themselves – the economy, mergers and acquisitions, the law, the list goes on. One presentation even showed a video interview with a rather grumpy colleague in another department talking about how he didn’t like e-learning and thought the whole project was a terrible idea….then a later interview in which he’d completely changed his mind! What all those shortlisted have in common is such enthusiasm for what they do, motivated (in my opinion) by a desire to help others learn, develop and hopefully, progress.
I also witnessed some fantastic partnerships between suppliers of learning technology and their customers. Almost all the suppliers stood back and let their customers tell their story, often watching with real pride on their faces. Sounds cheesy but it’s clear that these good relationships are at least partially responsible for their success.
There’s also resourcefulness, innovation, technical know-how and brains in abundance. On occasions during the judging process I felt really quite humbled by people’s commitment and vision around what they’re trying to achieve. And that’s really important. The best practice examples we’ll see on the back of these awards are almost all focused on an organisational goal that’s far bigger than just completion rates.
I obviously can’t talk about specifics before the results are announced. But the decisions in both my categories were pretty agonising. Whether or not those shortlisted win a gong tonight (cliche alert) they’re all winners really. And when their stories are shared far and wide, the lessons are about more than just fancy technology. They’re about solving business challenges within a specific context in a way that works for them. And they’re about being brave and about being bold. I applaud you all from behind my desk and look forward to being able to do so in person this evening.