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Natalie Lewendon Let’s get curious & creative in learning & development

Learning at Work Week (LAWW) has gone with a theme of 'curiosity and creativity' for their yearly celebration of learning in the workplace. LAWW aims to promote and encourage the extension of opportunities to learn to all employees.

We thought we'd dive into our blog and revisit some of our favourite posts for insight into harnessing the power of creativity and curiosity in your work as an L&D practitioner.

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Curiosity in learning design

"Even highly motivated participants need a blend of professionally delivered input, involving and focused discussion and hands-on activity that actively engages them by building on their interests and prior knowledge."

If you're struggling to engage learners with your learning design, consider appealing to their creativity and curiosity. Different learning delivery methods, new storytelling elements—these things and more can encourage buy-in, encouraging learners to take an interest.

A curious learner is far more likely to be an engaged, 'pull' learner than a disengaged, disenfranchised 'push' learner type.

Nigel Walpole shares a 'trainer's dozen' of tips for creating a learning design that achieves this in 'Engage your people in their learning':

  • Arousing curiosity and creating a sense of ‘discovery’
  • Encouraging participants to share new knowledge with others
  • Making sure the whole environment is conducive to learning

"All L&D professionals understand," he notes, "that the more engaging a training programme is, the more likely it is that participants will immerse themselves in it and focus on applying the learning into the workplace."


Creativity in the workplace

Jon Elsom says that while innate talent can’t be taught, creativity can.

"I braved the Copywriting and Art Direction course at Watford (now West Herts) College. In ten months it turned me from a naïve, cliché-raddled, idea-monger wannabe into a hopeful purveyor of shiny things. Here, I learned how to get to the idea that knocks all the others into a cocked hat."

Jon offers his own career as evidence that "taught creativity ... lets innate talent soar".

"The motivation and discipline, the scrutiny and rigour, the crafting of lateral thought, the bravery and sheer chutzpah that it takes to get to the killer idea. All these are things that can be learned. And practiced. And improved."

If you can unlock people’s potential by giving them the power to harness their own creativity, you could also be unlocking a big learning win!


Mindfulness and creativity

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to improve creativity. In her explainer on introducing a programme of mindfulness into your organisation, facilitator and consultant Deryl Dix offers up some of the benefits of integrating the approach into other learning delivery methods.

Mindfulness, as well as improving creativity, can also offer improved communication, and support leadership development and coaching delivery.


Creativity and learning culture

Creativity is an important part of workplace and learning culture. Our Director of Learning Solutions Stephanie Morgan writes about creativity as part of the journey on the road from disempowered to empowered:

"Assuming you do have a culture that values ideas, creativity, innovation and decisive action, why else might people not take responsibility? I always think that people rise or sink to the level of expectation of their immediate manager. If you have a manager who micromanages you and questions everything you do, you soon tire of coming up with your own ideas. Equally, if you are always ridiculed or chastised when your decisions don’t quite work out, you will stop making decisions."

Encouraging learners to flex idea-generating muscles through playful, creative learning exercises could strengthen this faculty and increase buy-back from a disengaged team.


Get out of the way

As Nigel suggests in his blogpost for new managers, sometimes taking a back seat is essential to let your team's creativity develop:

"Linked a little to this perfectionism is the feeling that you need to come up with all the answers – you definitely don’t! Inspire 'creativity' in your team, give them time and space to generate ideas and solve problems, learn to trust them, try out some new things, and give lots of feedback."

Infamously, Google encouraged employees to use 20% of their time to work on new projects. This resulted in many out-there products—among them, Google Cardboard. Even Apple has its own version, Blue Sky. These are just two out of dozens of examples of learning cultures at work.

Facilitator Denise Campbell advises 'getting out of the way'.

She says building a coaching approach, rather than a managing approach, in relation to your team can "release creativity and untapped potential".

"As you start to get out of your own way, things start to flow more easily for you, your thinking becomes more supportive and you take actions that are timely and appropriate,” she says. “Let’s think about building a coaching approach into managing others by getting out of their way." Who knows, the next learner whose way you get out of might come up with Gmail!


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Learning at Work Week is an annual week-long awareness event in May, organised by the Campaign for Learning. It aims to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work. Learning at Work Week 2017 takes place from 15th-21st May 2017, and this year's theme is ‘Curious & Creative’.


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Natalie Lewendon, Content and Marketing Executive

Bringing you business, leadership and L&D wisdom from the experts.

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