BY JUSTINE LA ROCHE


I'm about to jump on a plane and head to the 75th ATD International Conference and Exposition. While the opportunity to hear Barack Obama present a keynote was enough to buy a ticket to San Diego, there’s so much more to this event that I’m still revising my game plan for how to take it all in. While I'm going to have to pace myself, I’ve narrowed what I’m checking out to five key areas; Culture, Leadership Development, New Learning Technology & Trends, Transforming Training and Demonstrating Impact. 


CULTURE
While the idea of a ‘learning culture’ has been around for a while, it's previously felt like something HR yearned for, as opposed to something the business landscape demands. Now, if you’re not willing to think differently, test and learn, the market will move ahead and customers will move on.
As a result, I'm keen to check out Laurie Burruss’ session on The Art and Science of Failure: Learning to Fail Forward as well as Dan Schawbel’s discussion of how to Create a Shared Learning Culture where teams are empowered to learn from each other. I’ll also check out Britt Andreatta’s session on Wired to Become: The Neuroscience of Purpose. When we launched Spring Point we were determined to build a purpose-led business, so I’m keen to learn more about leveraging it to shape a positive culture that attracts and keeps passionate, talented people.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Culture and leadership go hand in glove. Top of my list is Jack Zenger’s session on Mass Producing Extraordinary Leaders. I like his take that leadership development shouldn’t be reserved for a select senior group, but distributed at all levels. Given that we regularly work with cohorts of 300+ frontline to mid-level leaders, I'll be on the lookout for new ways to make impactful experiences available to large numbers of leaders in order to shape organisational culture.
I’m also looking forward to Rebecca Ray and Evan Sinbar share Data From More Than 25,000 Leaders [that] Reveals Why Digital Transformation Fails. The speakers suggest that almost every organisation is undergoing digital transformation at some level, and that most fail, primarily because leaders aren’t ready. I'll therefore be taking notes on the skills, learning options and tools leaders need to be better prepared.
Finally, I’m a sucker for a good metaphor, so I’ll be checking out Rick Lozano’s session on Acoustic Leadership: Developing a Leadership Culture That Resonates. The idea of simplifying and paring back leadership development for greater cut through really strikes a chord - no pun intended 😉
NEW LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES & TRENDS
Recently we’ve had the opportunity to design learning using new tech like Virtual Reality (VR) and WebGL. I’m keen to understand what others are up to, so will check out lessons learnt from Hilton and SweetRush’s immersive VR onboarding case study and Ian Cook’s session on artificial intelligence and machine learning. I’ve also got Brandon Carson’s Learning in the Age of Immediacy: How the Digital Transformation Transforms Learning on my list, as well as a panel discussion demystifying microlearning.
Lastly, Elliott Masie’s Learning Trends, Disrupters and Hype in 2018 looks to provide a good wrap up of what's real, what's exaggeration and what can actually benefit readiness and productivity in the workplace.
TRANSFORMING TRAINING
While the team gets a kick out of the chance to push digital boundaries in learning design, I'm also cognisant that clients have varying degrees of appetite and maturity when it comes to enabling learning through technology. For many clients, it's about meeting them where they are at, so I'm keen to attend a couple of sessions on how to position more creative, innovative approaches within traditional training organisations. Sessions on my list include Katrina Baker’s Bringing Creative L&D to Different Industries: How We Transformed Traditional Training and a communications company's experience piloting experiential methodology in its contact centres.
DEMONSTRATING IMPACT
While it's more important than ever for L&D to articulate its contribution to the business, many learning evaluation approaches are either too academic to resonate with business leaders or too resource intensive to be applied to all but the most strategic programs. Consequently, I’ll be checking out the panel discussion Learning Analytics: Achievable, Actionable and Possible and I'm intrigued by the idea of taking a portfolio manager mindset to learning evaluation, as explored by Christina Hall and John Mattox in their session When L&D Talks, The C-Suite Listens: Here’s How. 
Wow. Or is that 'phew'? On top of all these sessions, there’s still two more keynotes by strengths stalwart Marcus Buckingham and human relations expert Connie Podesta, a heap of recorded sessions to catch up on and a huge Expo. Plus, I’m keen to fit in a trip to San Diego's world famous zoo and try a fish taco or two!
If you’re heading to ATD and think there’s a session I shouldn’t miss, or you’re interested in hearing more about any of the sessions I check out when I’m back, don’t hesitate to get in touch - I'd love to hear from you.