Tim Slade: “What I am hoping is that we become, as an industry, less about building courses and more about building resources.”

50 jaar VOV
Tim Slade Banner

How would you define a good L&D-Professional? Why?

“One of the things that every single person who enters the field of Learning and Development has, whether they have a formal background or not, is the mindset that everything we do is focused on Instructional Design, creating really great content and making sure that we’re writing good learning objectives. Of course all of those things are important, but for me it is more important that an L&D-Professional, Instructional Designer or however you define yourself is good at more skills than just one. It is not just about being an Instructional Designer, it’s also about being a Graphic Designer, a UI/UX-Designer, a Project Manager. There are all these peripheral skills you have to be good at in order to compete in the market today that didn’t exist before.”

“So, being a good L&D-Professional is having a broad capability and having the ability to do different things throughout the designing process of a learning solution. I would also like to point out a strong willingness and ability to grow and own their own development in this fast changing world. But that’s actually on all of us individually. If you are put in a situation that you don’t know, it requires a willingness for you to learn how to do it. Even outside your comfort zone. I’m aware that learning outside your comfort zone takes time, but I’m determined that the worst thing you can do as an L&D-Professional is to not invest in your own development and growth as out industry is developing and growing too.”


What is the most important lesson you have learned throughout your career?

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that a major component of my job as a Learning Professional, regardless of what function you have or what type of content you develop, is stakeholder management and managing expectations. How I manage my own projects and the expectations of the stakeholders has a big correlation to whether or not anything I create is successful. You have to constantly incorporate and include them in your process so that everyone is in alignment.”

Any tips?

“My number one tip: never assume that your stakeholders have any idea of what you are doing. It’s easy for us to assume that they know what we mean by a storyboard or a prototype or any of these terms that we use day-in-day-out. The reality is that they have no idea what those things mean, so bring them along in the process, educate them and keep them informed about what you are doing.”

“Often times our job is to talk our stakeholders out of training. We should never accept the ask of training just because that was the question. We should make sure that training is really the right solution. If not, it’s also our job to tell them what is the right solution. Our job is to partner with our stakeholders so we can really help them with their needs.”


How do you see the world of L&D evolving in the future?

“You know, I’ve given up on trying to predict the future. What I am hoping is that we become, as an industry, become less about building courses and more about building resources. By resources I mean the things everybody uses every single day. Along with that it requires our stakeholders to understand that creating a resource is also a form of training and can be as – or even more – effective as a course.”

“For example: if I wanted to learn how to bake a cake. I could watch a YouTube video, I could read a recipe, I could attend a baking class but in reality I won’t invest my time and money in a baking class if I just need to bake a cake. So, I will use my resources as YouTube or a recipe. But it’s important to understand that by just providing the resources, we don’t learn how to do it. Just because I watched a YouTube video, doesn’t mean I can bake a cake, I still have to try baking the cake and taste the cake. That’s another aspect we have to be better at: embracing to fail and learning from that failure as part of the learning process. Too often in large corporate organizations failure is stigmatized, when in reality we should embrace that failure. It’s not that you’ve learned how to do something just by following a course. That’s something we should make clear to our stakeholders, everybody is learning all the time and is aware how learning occurs. Let them understand in ways they can relate to.”


Are there any trends in the world of L&D or the job market in general that concern you?

“I see that more and more employers are starting to hire people for the skills they have rather than their credentials. In some instances it’s more important to have those practical skills than having a particular education or many years of experience. As I look at myself, I would rather hire somebody that can do what I need right now, regardless of they have two years or twenty years of experience. I don’t mean that that education or those years of experience aren’t significant, I just mean that they need to be backed up with practical skills. Understand that it is about what you can do and know.”


What would you personally like to learn, acquire or unlearn in the coming year?

“I hope to find more balance in my day-to-day-life. With so many of us working from home, everybody knows this: it’s easy to wake up, go right to your computer, start working and work until late at night. My hope is to find a good balance between my work life and my personal life, but I’m sure we all have to find that.”

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