Transforming L&D Into A Strategic Asset With Crystal Kadakia

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Crystal Kadakia. Crystal is the co-creator of the Learning Cluster Design model. She also leads her own independent organizational development consulting practice at Kadakia Consulting.

Crystal is also the author of The Millennial Myth: Transforming Misunderstanding into Workplace Breakthroughs, and the co-author of Your Career: How to Make It Happen with Lisa Owens.

In this ‘strategic’ conversation Crystal and I discuss

00:00 › Start

7:38 › Roadblocks—Crystal explains what roadblocks exist for a learning and development department or an individual that is practicing in this space that prevent the narrative within an organization that L&D is really a strategic investment

13:46 › Frameworks—Crystal then offers specific ideas and frameworks that she gives to her clients that help to change the mindsets of leadership

21:11 › Discomfort—Crystal then discusses why it is important for everyone to become uncomfortable to get confident and truly become a strategic player

34:17 › AI-proof L&D—Crystal talks about the things that are “AI-proof” in talent development in the L&D space.


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a company leveraging open -source software to deliver effective, customized and engaging learning experiences for schools, universities, companies and government. governments around the world since 2005.

Learn more at OpenLMS .net. Hi there, my name is Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Crystal Kadakia. Crystal is the co -creator of the Learning Cluster Design Model,

and she also leads her own independent organizational development consulting practice. She is also the author of The Millennial Myth, transforming misunderstanding into workplace breakthroughs.

breakthroughs. And she co -authored your career, how to make it happen with Lisa Owens. In this strategic conversation, Crystal and I discuss what roadblocks exist for a learning and development department or an individual that’s practicing in this space that prevent the narrative within an organization that L &D is really a strategic investment.

Crystal then offers specific ideas and frameworks that she gives to her clients that help change this mindset within leadership. Crystal and I then discuss why it’s important for everyone to become uncomfortable,

to get confident, and truly become a strategic player. And then Crystal talks about the things that are AI -proof in talent development in the L and D space. And remember,

we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners, and really real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn, on Facebook, or on YouTube, just come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe.

Now, I give you Crystal. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Elearn podcast. My name’s Ladak as you just heard, but as I say every time, the show is not about me. I am excited to have with me Crystal. Hello, Crystal.

How are you today? Hi, I’m doing great. How are you? I am fantastic. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. we cannot tell and I got to be honest as I was watching kind of in the in the Green room as the intro was playing there.

I is this a is it a map behind you that? Or is it just sort of a no? Stream yard the way the virtual backgrounds work because if not I can kind of blur the background if that’s help No,

no, I like it I was just trying to figure out is it like it wasn’t you know Just like a zoom in on like a geographic thing or if it was is it just sort of a design that you created? No, it’s just the design I was hoping maybe it was like some strange part of the world anyway,

so where Where do we where do we find you sitting in the world today? I am in Atlanta,

Georgia Ah, nice. Is it still hot Lana? Lana? I mean, it’s October right now as we’re recording this. So, I mean, as fall– – You know what, I think it is. I think hot Lana has just like,

well, no, it’s not hot Lana’s fault, but I’ll tell you what, I think it’s hot Lana everywhere. But yeah, it’s still, I mean, it’s 80 degrees and it’s October 1st, right? We’re past October 1st now.

So it’s definitely a little bit of the new normal as we keep saying. you know, I feel like we’ve been using the phrase new normal now for 10 years.

So it’s just at what point can I just say what point can I just like have a little bit of stability, a little bit of like, right, like I’m gonna let this ride for like 18 months,

you know, I’m excited. Right. So as I let everybody do on the the show,

I would love for you to take a minute or two to just introduce yourself, position yourself in the world of learning for us and what you do. Yeah, sure.

So, hi, everyone. I’m Crystal Kadakia. I love so many different things, and they all have this kind of central theme of problem solving,

process process improvement, and making an impact on the world. So I have a background in chemical engineering, which I do not do anymore.

Do not ask me any hard math questions. Please don’t do that in this interview. The second part of my career led me to LND and training management.

And then most of my time, now is spent on organizational change. So I got my master’s in OD almost, yeah, I guess it was like five years ago, six years ago.

And so what I’ve been really spending my time doing is building models and frameworks to help different parts of the world, you know,

whether it’s a certain industry or a field like LND or now a lot of my work is in the sustainability impact space, it’s all about how do we do better,

okay? And how do we do better, not in a perfectionist way, but how do we, more around like, what’s the context of the world today, and are we meeting that context where we’re at?

So L &D, lots of possible spaces for improvement, right? Because we’ve been doing stuff a certain way for a really long time. We’ve all as he said, you know, we would could things just stay the same for 18 months I don’t know but we’re all in the midst of change and so having kind of those models and frameworks that help us think through those Helps just so much deal with the complexity around us.

So that’s what I do. I’m a complexity person I’m a models framework person working a lot of different spaces and find it all to be really fine and meaningful. That’s fantastic.

Fun and meaningful. Those are the two words you want to end every description with, right? Yeah, exactly. I have to say, sorry, I’m missing the normal resume things you say,

but I’ve given two TEDx talks. I’m on my fifth book now, I think. Again, they’re just all across in different industries. Keynote spoke every and all those sorts of fun things,

especially pre -pandemic, you know, those sort of things. – Well, today we’re here to talk about, I believe it’s one of your, you wrote a book on it, which was Designing for Modern Learning,

Beyond Addy and Sam. But really, ultimately our conversation was teed up around removing or actually really it’s like kind of discovering what roadblocks are going to be.

exist for a learning and development department or an individual or anyone who’s practicing in this space to shifting the narrative within an organization,

whether it be a small company or big company, that L &D is kind of a thing that they do, you know, it’s like it’s, “Oh, hey, you know, we have to do some training. We know we have to do some planning. We need to upskill.” You know,

we’re doing that to actually think thinking like, “Hey, this is a really strategic investment. How can we look at this as an investment?” And also, how is this team of people, it could be one person or a team of people,

actually really be strategic business partners within the organization and the C -suite? Yeah. So, you and I, when we were chatting, I mean, it was just, “This is the biggest topic in my mind for L &D,

strategic business partnership.” being a strategic investment. And you know what? It’s really hard for us, if you’ve only been in kind of the L &D field or kind of HR education space,

it’s really hard for us to see the bigger picture here. And the bigger picture with L &D, if I think about one of those first roadblocks that gets in the way for departments and teams,

the first roadblock I often come across is that it’s really hard for us to see the bigger picture here, but it’s really hard for us to see own history gets in the way. And, you know, what I mean by this is, you know, if you go back and you look at how L &D started in,

you know, it’s back, we’re getting to be pretty old in our history where, you know, I think this field’s probably been really formally around say about maybe 70 years now,

maybe you feel like you’re getting that wrong again. Don’t ask me any kind of of math questions. – I do not have that answer, so I don’t know. – And I mean the corporate training field. Obviously,

education’s been around forever. But corporate training and really that formal training came out of World War II. And that was a time where everything was about efficiency,

like high volumes of people needing to be upskilled and often a lot of technical repeatable. repeatable skills. And so, you know, we actually looked to the public education model.

We looked at, I think it was Army models as well, military models, Roman military models, on how to get large scales of people learning things. And so you end up with,

guess what, a lot of classroom training on repeatable types of skills and knowledge and content. content. And here we are, you know, 50,

60, 70 years later and we are now reinforcing that same history even though our present is asking for something different. So this is like the first roadblock I come across all the time.

Oh, well, my stakeholders ask me for training. So that’s what they expect. And And just because in the past,

every learning problem was solved by a course or a class doesn’t mean that’s the answer today. And I think that’s where,

like, that’s the roadblock. And I hear this all the time, but they asked me for it. Okay, well, if businesses only gave customers what they asked for, we would not have any innovations today in the market,

right? We wouldn’t have the computer, the smartphone, the anything. Nobody was asking for those things. They were asking for a need to be solved, and companies told them what would actually solve it.

And that’s kind of what we need to do. Our stakeholders are actually asking us for more capability, capability on the job that they can see. see. So we need to really own our expertise and take on that tough thinking of what will actually build capability and what won’t.

And that’s, you know, that’s the other roadblock I see is we ask for permission when we could really own our expertise. So I’m curious what you’ve seen in space. I mean, how, you know, how many times have you heard kind of people having,

especially as a podcast interviewer, you know, how often are we as a field, asking for permission? Can I do this? Can I go beyond the class? Can I create this kind of delivery method?

Oh, hey, stakeholder, can I have some of your time to understand the business need behind this? When we could own our expertise and say, “Look, I am the learning professional here.

This is what I need in order to do my job,” which is then solving your problem of greater capability. Hi there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now, but if you’re enjoying this show,

if you are challenged, if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re going to be able to get something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor. Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now.

Doesn’t matter which one, just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now, back to the show. I actually want to answer that question in that I’m fortunate to have the position of being this host.

As you and I are having this conversation right now, when we publish your podcast, it will be podcast number somewhere in the 160s or 170s. Fortunately,

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking. speaking with lots of individuals like yourself who espouse these types of mindset shifts, right, where, yeah,

exactly. And so this is where, but this brings me beautifully to kind of like that next question is like, it befuddles me still to this day, whereas I’m speaking with you, obviously an expert,

you’re out there, you’re writing books, you’re presenting, you’re these kinds of things, you know, we have people who are talking about, you know, more specifically. like the tech we use behind this, how AI is changing things, et cetera. But there is that underlying common thread that goes through so much of this,

which is that mindset shift of, I don’t have to just sit back and deliver whatever I’m told. How do I step up to the plate or even bring my own ideas to whomever?

you know, to whomever within my organization or my school and say, “Look, you know, I think there’s a creative way to do this or there’s a new modern way to do this or there is a different path that we can take.” And so I want to throw the question back to you is what have you,

you know, working with your clients, working with, you know, anybody individually that you’ve worked with or teams, what are those pieces you give them, those frameworks to change that that confidence, to change that mindset, to change that,

you know, rather than being a passive receiver of tasks to a proactive suggestor of ideas? Yeah, I love that question because that’s exactly what we started focusing on,

right? Like, what is missing here in our competency set? We spend all day working on building capability for other people. people. But what about our capability and what is limiting our results out there in business?

And this asking for permission to do things. You know, a lot of this comes, for me, it comes from our context has changed. We have all this great technology out there that could help.

We no longer have to be limited to a person. classroom or a course. So if you think about before computers and all this, you really could only,

uh, educate people live in person or through like a book. And then when TV came along, you had videos, right? Um,

but now we have all this great technology. We have all these different ways we could be meeting people in different times and places. But the thing that hasn’t changed is our method and our process.

And when you don’t have new capability, you don’t feel like you can really ask to do something different. So, part of our work, and I say our,

me and my colleague, Lisa MD Owens, in 2015, what we started doing was really analyzing all the things that have changed in our environment and our response to it.

So here’s the thing we found and is that all of our historical models and processes and learning theories, they’re all typically based around creating one thing at the end of it.

One class or course, you know, how do you create that perfect curriculum? That’s what our methodology said. Well, guess what? Now when we stand in front of the camera, we’re going to be able to see what’s going on. of stakeholders and they’re asking for a need,

what do we say we’re confident in doing? We say we can create a training around that. We can create a single curriculum. But hey, everybody, that is not how people learn today.

That’s not really how people have learned forever. They’ve always learned through a journey, through multiple different touchpoints as we call them in our model. But we as instruction designers,

developers, learning managers, we haven’t had a process that helps us build a multi -asset learning strategy. So that is the gap we closed.

Now me, like whenever I have imposter syndrome about anything, the first thing I do is figure out what’s the fastest way for me to build competency in this area. So when I started out,

when I left corporate and I started out. my own business, one of the first things I noticed was that keynote speaking is a great way to make some income, you know, big chunks. You need something that can really help you have a viable lifestyle when you walk out on your own.

Well, you know, I was 25. So what’s the, what was going to be the way for me to get keynote speaking everywhere and get paid for it? Well, I realized that TEDx was a great great avenue to build that credibility,

but also competency. You get a speaker’s coach, right? You do these things. So I go into this to share that I look for the fastest way to build my competency in an area I didn’t know.

We need to do that as L and D professionals. Like the second talk I ended up giving was a TEDx talk in my life. Like the second time I stood up in front of people was that. And– And if you don’t mind– yeah,

if you don’t mind– jumping in there too, it’s the other sea that that develops, right? It’s not only competency for you. You’re building that skill set, you’re building those muscles, you’re flexing, and you know, great. But you’re also,

what we all know, I guess, the externality that it creates is credibility, right? Because then you can point people to say, “Hey, I got a TEDx that I just did two weeks ago,” and then suddenly you have instant credibility,

right? So that’s exactly it. You’re hitting it on the head. So that’s exactly the thing that I wish L &D professionals were doing right now was seeking that leap in capability and competency,

not just investing in the newest technology. It’s almost like we’re expecting technology to solve the problem of our history, which our history is focused on delivering one more and done,

one size fits all. Well, you need a new competency to do that, and obviously, Lisa and I, we invented a model to help with this, the learning cluster design model,

and I can sit here and promote the model and definitely encourage folks to check it out, and I will tell you, I keep looking around for other processes,

other ways of working for L &D that have to do with a multi -asset learning strategy. And I don’t see very many out there. And I’m always looking like who else is in this space?

Even when I think about things like design thinking, it’s usually about how do I improve the user experience more or less in this particular program I have.

It’s not about how do I create a bunch of different learning assets across the world. times, ways, and places. So that’s sort of what we’re doing. And so I saw a question pop up in the livestream.

Maybe someone had asked this, “Do you have the confidence to defend your capability to stakeholder?” I mean, unless you have capability, that’s where you get the confidence from is the competence.

And if the only competency you have is in one and done, when you ask to do something different, of course, stakeholders aren’t going to feel that confidence because you don’t have that confidence. So you have to go beat your imposter syndrome by getting that.

So walk me through your process or your experience personally, and working with, you know, obviously the teams and the people you work with. At some point,

you make the decision at a rate I’m going to go acquire. a couple of new skills right or I’m gonna acquire some some some more competency but then there is that that moment of taking that deep breath and having to walk through the gauntlet of practicing right and so and Practice you know go over you know walking over the you know the fire walk of oh shucks I did that wrong or that didn’t come out right or wow.

I really hit that one out of the park, you know That’s what ultimately leads to confidence, right? It’s just like, and I use the analogy of riding a bike, right? You get on it, you fumble, you can’t figure out how to start,

you know, you fall down a couple of times, but then suddenly at some point, you’re like, oh, I’m riding it, and then you really like it. And then you realize 10 years later, you can get on a bike after two years and do it again because it’s ingrained,

it’s muscle memory, it’s, you know, it’s just become a part of who you are. So, talk me through that. Cause I think that’s where so many people, it’s so easy to go out and get new skills. It’s so easy to go read the next book.

It’s so easy to take a training for lack of a better term. Take me through the, what do you, what’s your counsel on people to become uncomfortable to get confident?

Someone quote that, someone quote that right there. Yeah, I totally hear you. And, you know, I love your metaphor of learning to write a a bike because who was holding that bike for you when you were learning?

You know, you didn’t really learn it alone, right? They’re, hopefully most of us had, you know, a mom or a dad nurse or someone, you know,

holding that bike or you had the tricycle, right? You had some, you weren’t doing it on your own. And so I can tell you how we do it with LCD model as well. And again,

I hope anyone investing in any kind of strategic competency, I hope they have this kind of support as well. But the heart of learning cluster design is the idea that whenever you have a capability you’re working on,

you’re doing it through multiple different ways, times and places. It’s not just gotten through a one and done course. So I myself had a choice when we wrote this book “Designing for Modern Learning,” do I just leave it as a book or do I try to grow this into something more and really a learning journey for people to be able to build their capability in this process,

in this way of working? And I obviously decided to go beyond the book and I experimented with a bunch of different learning clusters, as we call them. And where we’ve landed is we have a a async course that someone would take and it has self -study in it,

but it’s a very socially centered course. So after they do the self -study in which they’re seeing other people, they actually bring a project from work to the program,

to our learning experience, and they walk through the five actions of the model, each of those actions has a tool with it. and they get live coaching on all of their work.

And at the end, there’s a capstone presentation. So as a part of learning this model, they’re actually building a learning cluster. So they’re taking an existing training course and turning into a multi -asset learning initiative.

And then even after that, we don’t leave them alone. We offer a year support in our community where we have like an ask the F. forum and as you’re continuing to try the model out on projects,

you can ask questions like, oh, I ran into this barrier with my stakeholder or I was working on learner personas. Does anyone have good questions for learner persona interviews I can benchmark or,

you know, all those sorts of issues that start to come up when you actually approach your real complex work. And remember we’ve already done one. complex work project in the course before,

but it’s about the second, the third, the fourth one you do. And then, of course, you can renew that community membership if you want to keep asking those questions year after year. So for me,

it’s my goal is anyone who gets introduced to LCD model, they have the ability as a practitioner to apply the model in an hour or two,

if they want to just use it. it, you know, using their intuition to analyze a problem that they’ve been asked for, or they can do a full process where they’re going out gathering data from stakeholders and their learners and using that to inform their design,

all of that work. Maybe that takes two months. Maybe they want it. It’s a very complex project. Maybe it takes six months. You know, maybe it’s an org -wide learning initiative, right, large scale.

But as a practitioner, my goal is you should have the capability to execute it at all those different levels. So, for me, this is how we do it in the LCD space.

We acknowledge that you do need that practice, that you do need that journey, that skills aren’t that quick, easy to build. It’s not just about reading it and,

like, getting the concept. Oh, okay. I get the gist behind this. How many times do we hear that? Like, “Oh, yeah, I get the gist behind time management or habit formation.” I read that book on habits.

I didn’t really get anything new out of it. But then like you actually do it and you’re like, “Oh shit, you know what? My habits aren’t really that great.” Right. Or if you really want to build a new habit,

there’s there’s it’s anybody who’s an adult has gone through the process of weight loss, you can call it lifestyle change, whatever you want to say, like choosing a different set of habits or even just one new habit,

that’s a challenge. I mean, people sell billions and billions of dollars of ways to do it easier, faster, etc. But ultimately, at the end of the day,

it’s the hard work you put into it. Exactly. I don’t know why we as humans, that’s an interesting topic in itself. Why do we fight the fact that things take time?

It takes time, and that’s okay. I think that’s why it’s so important when you’re building a capability or a competency like this, that you give yourself the time and that you seek to learn from people who give you kind of of a sandbox to practice in,

that’s meaningful, right? Like even in our self -study, we start with a case study, and then you get to bring your work project, and then we give you feedback on it. So there’s like all of these, and you know,

the way I designed this was I applied our own model to the problem of how do I teach people LCD model. I went through what are, and this is a brief preview of our model,

but I went… went through what are the on -the -job changes I would want someone to be able to do at the end of this learning experience. I looked at our personas,

who is going to struggle with those on -the -job behaviors the most and why. So then I start getting clues for when, where, how I want to design the learning. I thought about upgrading existing assets.

So we already have the book, How Can We modernize the book? How can we make this accessible for people and more multimodal and all of that? And then I thought about, okay, what’s my learning cluster look like after I get all that data?

What are all the different learning assets that are going to feed these personas’ needs the most in order to bring about those on -the -job behaviors while using the material we already have out there? So I’m not reinventing the wheel.

Those are like the three big big data pieces we take and we convene to then create a learning cluster. And then we track transformation, which is our fifth action. And all of these represent innovations in the L &D industry,

because when it comes to track transformation, we’re no longer, I’m not concerned about tracking the impact of just the self -study part of our learning experience. I’m thinking collectively about all of these different assets and how did they…

contribute to building the competency? That’s what our track action helps you do is measure collective impact rather than, “Oh, they watched that video. Did it change them on the job?” That’s such a far reach to measure.

There’s so many other things that could have happened from watching the video. When you have a collection of assets, you can say, “Oh, wow, we had this year -long community. We had this project, the person.” did,

we had the case study they did, we had this,” right? And then you can start to see, “Well, what’s their confidence level in this capability?” So that’s what our model did this for me. One,

we created the model, but I walked the talk, I applied it, and I was like, “Oh my god, I fall in love with my work over and over again,” because I’m like, “This is really great. I mean, I’ve used it for change management work.

I’ve used it to help people build communities.” communities. I’ve helped marketers by using our model ’cause marketing is a point of learning too, right? You’re doing customer education more.

So anyway, sorry, I might get really excited about our model sometimes, but it’s a… It just happens, you have to cut me off on that. It’s just awesome. – No, not at all. I actually,

I wanted to let you go and let you know, sort of espouse the entire thing and have a complete thought around the model. there. And, you know, this is what I think you’re talking about going beyond, you know, what a typical instructional designer would say,

you know, they use the Addy model, they use the Sam model or whatever. And this is a different way of thinking. What’s, talk me back, I want to circle back to that becoming a, you know, a strategic player within my organization.

How do I then use this, you know, either the LCD model or, you know, these set of competencies that I have. you know, what’s your advice to someone to be able to come back and find opportunities or find moments or,

you know, or strategically place myself in, you know, in the line of, you know, in traffic, basically to say, Hey, I’ve got a different idea, or I’ve seen this, like, what, how,

what’s your advice around that? Yeah, so, okay, so say you’ve got this great competency built out. Well with this competency itself comes new questions You’re asking right so now a stakeholder says hey,

I need a training on this You start to ask well, what’s the on -the -job changes you’d want to see because you know, I need to know this for my design You know a person I need to know this for my design right like I want to make sure that this has on -the -job impact So what would you see differently if this works?

What are you not seeing today? What are the consequences if this didn’t exist? And you know what, we do this for the most basic stuff. So I remember recently we had someone working on onboarding,

which onboarding to me, I’ll tell you what, it’s like, I have like a love hate relationship with it. I love it because it’s our core, like everyone’s done onboarding forever.

And it’s like the new energy you get in an onboarding space, right? You’re working with people who are so excited about an organization. On the other hand, I’m like, we have 50 years of content on how to design good onboarding,

so that’s the hate part of it, is I’m like, oh my god, it’s so much. But I’ll tell you what, for something as basic as onboarding, onboarding can so easily be about the content that the specific specific on -the -job application gets completely lost.

So what we see people do is going back to their stakeholders and asking, “This year, right now in our business, what are the on -the -job behaviors you want to see from new hires that’s going to be,

you know, what we would consider performance for a new hire?” So now rather than… than just building the content around company values and company history and HR benefits and policies and how those work.

We start to add in some very serious application oriented. Content and delivery methods that managers then come back and say oh wow this actually helped me because I didn’t have that much time to upskill these new hires but.

but this is hitting some of the things. So now onboarding becomes a dynamic learning initiative rather than a static, okay, we created onboarding back in 1995 and we’re still doing essentially that same onboarding.

Well really the business priorities have probably changed year on year and we could really do a better job of asking those questions. So sorry, I tend to illustrate things with story,

but you know your question around like, how do I start showing up differently? When you have this competency, it’s no longer about organizing content into the best curriculum possible and fitting it all into one thing.

You’re now asking really more about the on -the -job applications. You’re treating learning like it’s dynamic and stakeholders see that. Like they hear that instantly in your questions when you start asking,

well, what’s the business priorities this year? year? What do new hires need to know this year? And if they didn’t know that, how would the business be hurt?” You start asking those questions and the stakeholders are like,

“Oh, wow. Okay. I haven’t really thought about that yet.” And then you say, “That’s okay. That’s okay. Let’s just take our time together and let’s explore some of those questions so we can get this right because I want to ultimately shortcut the amount it’s time it’s taking for you all to coach and onboard these new hires.

That’s my job. So, you know, let’s work through some of these questions so we have the right focal point. And then, you know, you just see the whole change in your stakeholders’ perception of L &D,

which is ultimately what we want. Nice. So I know we’re kind of creeping up on half an hour in our conversation here, but I want there’s there’s, I want to pivot for a second and ask you,

you know, we’re, we’re kind of in this age now, we’re, we’re coming up on a year since the release of chat, GPT and the explosion of AI and then in the, in the universe over, you know,

writ large, but I know that one of the questions we wanted to talk about was the things that are AI proof in talent development, the things that are AI proof in the LND space. And I wanted to give you an opportunity to maybe leap off from what you were just explaining there about that new onboarding process or whatever.

What is L &D still own that is going to be AI -proof in your vision going forward? Yeah, so I actually did a cool little draft work where I was looking at ATD’s talent development.

model, their competency model, and I mapped it against Onet, which is the US Bureau of Labor. They have this platform called Onet,

and it lists out all the professions and what are the different tasks that profession does. I looked at these two, and first of all, that was interesting in itself because I realized that ATD has a very aspirational view of our role.

you know, all of the amazing things we do versus the Bureau of Labor had a lot more on it, had a lot more around just literally training, creation and facilitation and administration.

And you know, ATD’s got these beautiful aspirations for us around playing a role in change management and talent management strategy and, you know, actually got some feedback from some folks on on what they’re really spending their time doing.

And the Onet one was a little bit closer to what people spend their time doing. Now when it comes to AI, this is a problem because really,

if a lot of our time today is spent on content creation work, that’s historically really at the center of instructional design and development field.

It’s been a lot of our time. on content creation, content extraction, content creation. That’s, AI is really good at that. And if all you’re doing is creating one course or class or video or e -learning,

AI is going to really make that process a lot more efficient over time, especially as AI gets better and better and better. So we’re going to go ahead and do that. does that mean for L &D as a profession,

right? So I think– and then even training administration, that’s the other place. Folks tend to spend a lot of their time as training administration. And I’ll be honest,

it’s wonderful to me to see these AI technologies come out related to like calendaring and scheduling and better LMS management and knowledge management.

I think that– that’s great because some of that was a lot of the tedious work we all do. And it really can free us up to focus more on the strategic competencies of,

and that’s what I see as AI -proof, when you look at the more aspirational parts of the ATD’s competency model around change management. Managing change is a very,

it could be. be a very emotionally -centered, psychology -centered process. Today, we almost have no time to do that, and we treat change management like it’s a communication and training challenge.

But it’s really a psychological challenge. And we all know this, but we never have bandwidth to actually really address the psychological needs of change.

We don’t really… have the time to take the time to bring people along the journey. I think that’s something that’s very AI -proof for the L &D profession is to start thinking about how do I create change as a journey instead of a static training and communication moment,

and because AI can help make that more efficient. Things around talent management strategy. also AI proof. But you’ll notice all these things have the word “strategy” in there.

So if we’re not good, then why? Yeah, yeah. But they also have the word “journey” in them too, right? It’s like, it’s rather, because as you were just pointing out,

I wanted the, not the sound bite, but the, you know, sort of the, the, the piece that I want to pull out of what, yeah, the highlight, that’s the word. Gosh, I lost my, lost my ability to think here.

is, is the difference between that training moment to that point in time, which I think so many people look at, hey, I’m going to go learn this, boom, you know, and you know,

I’m going to go get it and ingest it and then be able to apply it, boom, there’s the moment. Whereas if you start thinking about it like a journey, then someone help you manage that journey, someone to coach you through it,

someone to support you through it, someone to offer new resources, you know, all of these other. roles and other hats and other opportunities to be a part of that process with a person or a team or an organization present themselves.

A hundred percent. And even if that journey is asynchronous, it’s somebody doing the thinking behind what’s the most likely journey that’s going to resonate with someone,

which then brings up the inclusion part of our role, which again today we can’t spend a lot of time and energy on because we’re busy creating one curriculum, one e -learning,

one video. And how inclusive can you really be if you’re creating one thing? You have to be one size fits all, right? You try to meet all people’s needs through that one thing.

Well, in this world where AI is helping us create more content and chunking it and helping kind of divvy up the content. The content itself becomes a little bit less important but how you use it,

who you use it for, what your understanding is of the who, that all becomes a lot more important. And that’s all AI proof, real competencies in gathering that qualitative understanding of who are the people in my organization?

How do they differ? And how can we… create multiple assets to meet these different people’s needs? So, you know, in the LCD world,

we don’t expect every single person to take every single learning asset. We’re, by design, tailoring it to different learner personas. So this learner persona might take this asset,

but another person might take this asset, and that’s success. So we don’t look for 100 % attendance in 100 % of the assets. That just doesn’t,

again, doesn’t make sense in our diverse and inclusive world. So I feel like those sorts of skills that lead you to being a more inclusive designer, an inclusive learning manager,

working on the journey. I love how you pulled that out and elevated that. Being able to think about the journey and thinking of it as an integrated thing. So there are people who who are creating multiple assets right now,

but they don’t think about how all those assets work together. They might have the video, they might have the e -learning, they might have a formal class, but that might be all they have, and they don’t really think about how all those connect.

Whereas we’re talking about, you think about which social learning assets you need, and that could be creating frames for manager coaching, it could be peer coaching,

it could be a help. line or a help desk. There’s so many different social learning assets you could have. And your job as the learning manager or designer is to pick the most intelligent ones,

not tell your people, “Hey, there’s millions of things you could do to learn socially.” I mean, what help is that, right? So our job parts to become being the strategic journey inclusive,

you know, designers and managers and orchestrators of these learning experiences, rather than let’s create one and done, one -size -fits -all content, and more compliance -oriented content.

Like, you know, everyone’s gotta take this training to meet a business need. That’s the shift I see and that I’m aspiring for. I can’t say that I’m seeing it happening because I honestly…

think we feel so comfortable doing our one and done one size fits all. And not even the comfort, it’s more that we feel like we have to keep the wheels running, like we can’t pause and veer off on a new path of let’s do something different.

But for the folks I’ve seen who, you know, we have had over 1000 people now go through our courses since 2015. And, um, people who veer off on that new path,

it’s just, even if they can’t do it all the time, like create multi -asset initiatives, they’re bringing that thinking of inclusion and business pain and on -the -job application to whatever it is they do.

And it’s just such a difference seeing that. And I do think those people are AI -proof. I would say. And I mean, some of these learning leaders,

I’m so impressed by their tenacity in being partners to their organizations rather than order takers. On that note, Crystal Kadakia,

you are a person who’s written many books, but the one I want to call out here is Design for Modern Learning beyond Addie and Sam. And also, you talked a lot in our conversation here about learning cluster design.

Yeah, everybody can visit. you at learningclusterdesign .com. Is there another way that you prefer for people to reach out, to connect with you, to learn more, to work with you, et cetera?

– Yeah, folks are more than welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m very accessible on there. I am someone who literally reads all the messages I get and I tend to reply,

especially if you actually don’t use the default connect button. So. So my audience, like I think I have 7 ,000 people on my mailing list, they’re all people I’ve either spoken to or talked to personally in some kind of way.

So that has been a lot of work, but meaningful relationships are really important to me. So in any case, it is very easy to connect with me on LinkedIn. There’s only one Crystal Kadakia on the planet.

I’m so lucky. lucky to have a unique name. Fantastic. That’s wonderful. Well, I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your super busy day to speak with us right now, and I wish you the best.

Thank you so much for having me. Thank you again for listening to the E Learn podcast here from OpenLMS. I just wanted to ask one more time. If you enjoyed this show, if you learned something,

if you were inspired, if you were challenged, if you feel like, you know, this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor and right now on your podcast player, hit subscribe. That way you’re never going to miss a future episode.

Also, come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well because we have tons of great information about how to create killer online learning outcomes. Thanks.

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