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Fractal Learning & Development

Fractal cauliflower by Tristan Ferne (flikr.com)

Fractal cauliflower by Tristan Ferne (flikr.com)

Last Friday, there was a great #LDInsight twitter chat posing the question “What is L&D?“. If you missed it, all of the conversations can be read here. From a diverse range of professionals came a diverse range of perspectives providing insight into what L&D means to them. That’s what I love about the #LDInsight every Friday morning – it quite naturally creates an inclusive space where good thinking & dialogue happens.

Roll forward a few days and I’m with the family driving through Ireland on holiday and the conversation is about different families and different people. What might be important to them here & now? For example, a short holiday for our family visiting relatives is important to us but for someone in a different country that might not be possible or desirable right now, if ever. A good conversation with the kids to think about others but it’s made me think more about that twitter chat…

If I was a farmer in Ireland just finishing the lambing season, what is learning & development to me?

If I was a professional working in Kiev living in the midst of unrest, what is learning & development to me?

If I was a Xhosa teacher living in South Africa, what is learning & development to me?

My gut instinct is that our situations & experiences create both similarity and differences in describing what we think of as being the same thing – learning & development.

I have a sense of repeating patterns and yet a sense of beautiful complexity. The word fractal comes to mind – utterly natural with a self-similarity and continuity yet there’s no apparently straightforward formula to describe each individual experience. Perhaps as with clouds in the sky – different yet similar and always a cloud.

My reflection is that what I call “Learning & Development” may be both similar and different to what others see as “Learning & Development”. Talking about “it” always has value but trying to define and label “it” too closely may actually not be that useful or productive. Isn’t that often the problem in organisational life, that we try to define & label more closely than we actually need to?

My encouragement is that we see Learning & Development more as a fractal. To be appreciated & enjoyed knowing that the value comes not from definition per se but from the conversation about how we can help ourselves and each other to learn and develop.

About David Goddin

Passionate about People, Performance & Potential. Amongst many other things David Goddin is a consultant, coach, facilitator & mentor with extensive experience of transforming business performance and organisational effectiveness as a Senior Executive in large organisations. As the founder and Managing Director of Change Continuum, David now works with companies and business professionals who want to increase performance, accelerate change & unleash potential.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Fractal Learning & Development

  1. Great perspective here David. I agree, we use a word to describe something that makes sense to those who may know it and understand it but really what does it mean to someone who has not experienced it or tasted it. L&D for me is the art of helping, assisting, caring and nurturing others to get to a level that helps them make a living, continue to feed their families and allow them to explore aspects of their life that they may have never been aware of. Great work and #LDInsight is a great initiative which I enjoy, when I can get there. All the best. Con

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    Posted by learnkotch | April 10, 2014, 11:12 AM
    • Hi Con – really appreciate you adding to the thinking here. As always it’s furthered my thinking with some challenge too!

      Firstly, I wonder who hasn’t experienced/tasted learning & development? It’s such a fundamental aspect to being human and therefore what an L&D function works with… So what sense making have L&D functions been doing historically?

      Secondly, that description you give resonates with me at a fundamental level… “the art of helping, assisting, caring and nurturing others to get to a level that helps them make a living, continue to feed their families and allow them to explore aspects of their life that they may have never been aware of”… It could also describe how I see myself as parent to my children. I find that curious!

      What sense does that make for you (& others)?

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      Posted by David Goddin | April 10, 2014, 5:49 PM
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