HPC’s Head of Research, Justin Kinnear attended ATD24’s third and final keynote, delivered by Venus Williams, who took to the stage for the final hour of ATD24.


As the winner of seven tennis grand slam titles and four Olympic gold medals, she is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and is still playing tennis at the top level. She is also known for her advocacy work, fighting for equal prize money for male and female players. She won that fight in 2007 when Wimbledon and the French Open announced they would award equal prize money to all competitors in all rounds. Venus is no stranger to the world of business, as CEO to her own interior design firm in Florida. She has also launched her own fashion line, owns a share of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, and in 2010 released her first book.


MC Holly Ralston sat down with Venus and asked her to reflect on her career and share some key lessons with the ATD delegates. Venus began by discussing how she has never wasted time over her career looking back. “My dad used to say, unless you have a time machine why go back? Just go forward.”


In her view, having a winning mindset is determined by how you frame things. If you dwell on losses or setbacks and beat yourself up, you’ll end up mired in negative self-talk and won’t progress. In Venus’ view a loss is “just a moment in time”. She sees losses as opportunities because “now you found out what not to do” in a similar situation in the future. She also admitted that sometimes she did lack belief but moved forward by asking herself “what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” adding that sometimes all you have is to project confidence and self-belief on the outside even when it’s not so solid on the inside.


Venus explained that in the mind of the elite performer there is nothing better than crushing your competition. However, you’re not going to feel great every time you compete. Venus shared how she prepared, played, and recovered by following a well-worn process. When times were hard the simple act of sticking to the process helped her to stay on track and get through challenging moments and disappointing results.


Venus also spoke about the expectations and standards that elite performers set for themselves. “You can’t allow your expectations to be low. If you get used to losing that’s a red flag”. Old-fashioned goal setting was a big part of how Venus set expectations from the start of her career, coupled with visualisation. She recalled walking the empty centre court at Wimbledon and soaking up the atmosphere and picturing herself winning in the fabled arena. Preparation was always key, echoing sentiments shared by Matthew McConaughey and Dan Pink, noting how solid preparation eases the pain of losing because you know you did all you could.


Venus spoke about stepping up in a moment of opportunity, because if you don’t step up someone else will. She spoke about going for it but “going for it smart”, taking an intelligent risk because the opportunity might not come again.


Venus shared how she doesn’t take criticism to heart, and tends not to read social media or news articles. She prefers to take time out to reflect on her performance and how she can improve. She noted the importance of coaches in her career, and how the person responsible for coaxing performance out of the performer can make or break the performer’s results and career. Echoing sentiments from Dan Pink, Venus spoke of her desire to not have regrets, and how she intends to use the potential she possesses to keep regrets at bay.


The final part of the conversation explored recovery – Venus has a daily recovery moment which is on her to-do list, leadership – Venus believes “leaders need to be someone worth following”, and building a team. Venus has built her team with people who love the work, and people who take everything in their stride. There will be stress and challenges but people who work through it don’t get stuck in it because it will all be forgotten in a few weeks from now.


Asked by Holly for a single takeaway reflection, Venus offered “stay positive, and love your life” quoting one of her favourite bands, 311.



Justin Kinnear – HPC


Justin is Head of Research at HPC and is at the forefront of creating blended content that is relevant, impactful and in line with the current needs of individuals and teams. Justin undertakes external research and analysis for leading L&D bodies and works in collaboration with our clients to evaluate the impact of HPC’s solutions within their organisations.


His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


HPC’s Head of Research, Justin Kinnear attended ATD24’s second keynote “Five ways to navigate what’s next”, delivered by Daniel H. Pink, author of five New York Times bestsellers.


As an author of such provocative and award-winning books about business, work, creativity, and behaviour, the audience was captivated by his energy and presence.


He began with a whirlwind review of some of the current dynamics in the world of work. He illustrated that we have quickly moved on from “quiet quitting” – ‘so’ 2023 – to a world where “rage applying”, “resenteeism” and “bare minimum Mondays” are the new trends, and where employees want their managers to “quietly manage” them. We’re in a tumultuous, contradictory and confusing time and it’s not easy to guess what is coming next.


Dan sees this point in the history of work as “the great sorting” where we are all trying to work out new perspectives on what work means, when we work and with whom, where we work, what organisations should do, and what leaders are for. He suggests that the old sequence of understand, strategise, and act needs to be reimagined with action preceding understanding from now on. At this point in the history of work Dan suggests we need to “act our way into knowing”.



Dan shared his 5 key principles for effective work life, based on his examination of a wide body of research.


1. We need to get better at subtractive thinking – solving problems by taking things away rather than adding more elements. Specifically, Dan suggested creating a “To Don’t list” for the remainder of 2024. Include the things that drain or divert attention and then commit to not doing them every day.


2. We don’t get enough information about how we are progressing. This is especially problematic for people brought up on devices that give instant feedback, whereas when they enter a world of work they might only get one feedback opportunity per year. We need to establish progress rituals. Specifically, Dan suggested pausing at the end of each day and noting three ways you made progress each day. You don’t need to review the list, the mere act of capture will create a sense of progress and achievement.


3. Purpose is crucially important in the quest for high performance. Dan suggests we need to spend more time making sure our team members understand why we are asking them to do what we ask. Dan suggests each week from now to the end of the year we focus on having two fewer conversations with our team members about the “how”, and instead have two more conversations about the “why”.


4. We have a negative perspective on the value of breaks. Studies show that breaks are not distractions from performance but are a vital part of performance. He noted that amateurs don’t take breaks, while top professionals know the value of breaks and always integrate them into their approach. Dan suggests scheduling a 15 minute walk break every other day for the remainder of 2024, and to model this walk as a sign of strength to those you lead. If the boss does it, everyone else will do it too.


5. Dan’s last insight was based on his research on regret. For most people, the regret of not taking a chance is profound and lasting. Noting that you won’t take every chance that comes along, you might need to build up your risk-taking muscle so you spot and go after the big one that arrives. Dan suggested three ways of reframing how you think so you can make bolder decisions:


– Channel your inner Andy Grove: if I were replaced in the morning, how would my successor decide?

– Ask the simplest but most useful question: what would I tell my best friend to do?

– Connect with your future self 10 years from now, looking back with wisdom and care: what would they say, what would they want you to do?


Dan’s session ended with a standing ovation by the audience; a ringing endorsement of a fun, energetic, and practical sharing of his ideas on how and why we should work at this “great sorting” point in history.



Justin Kinnear – HPC


Justin is Head of Research at HPC and is at the forefront of creating blended content that is relevant, impactful and in line with the current needs of individuals and teams. Justin undertakes external research and analysis for leading L&D bodies and works in collaboration with our clients to evaluate the impact of HPC’s solutions within their organisations.


His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


At a recent HPConnect networking lunch, we were joined for a virtual fireside chat by Professor Robert Brinkerhoff, an internationally recognised expert in learning effectiveness and evaluation. Joining us by Zoom from his home in the United States, Robert talked to HPC’s Kevin Hannigan about how organisations can increase learning transfer and impact.


Learning Transfer – what is it and what drives it?


Kevin and Robert began their long-distance conversation by talking about what exactly the term “Learning Transfer” means. While Robert shared the widely used definition of learning transfer as ‘the application of learning in the workplace’, he suggested this definition was not quite complete. Robert shared an anecdote about a person who attended a programme on developing financial acumen. After the programme, the person managed to apply the learning very successfully in his local church group but stated that he couldn’t apply the learning at work due to the obstacle of securing a host of approvals. Such a learning event generated inconsequential to no value to the sponsor of the learning. Learning Transfer occurs when we use training to generate “consequential value” for the organisation. In the work setting, learning is not just about absorbing knowledge but must involve using that knowledge in a way that delivers value back to the organisation.


Brinkerhoff suggests that our aim should be to seek “leveraged transfer” – applying learning in those actions and instances where use of the training will have the greatest payoff.  He went on to note that these leverage-transfer opportunities will differ for each trainee, according to their particular job context, and so part of our training designs must included tactics to help trainees identify what their own leveraged transfer opportunities will be.


Kevin then asked Robert about what drives learning transfer. In Robert’s view, many factors drive learning transfer, some of which happen before the learning takes place, and some of which take place after the learning. In Robert’s experience, about 80% of the impact of learning depends on these before and after elements. Some specific considerations that Robert highlighted are:


– Does the learner’s manager know what the training is intended to do?

– Does the learner know why they are participating in the training?

– Are the objectives of the training aligned with the person’s work?

– Is there intent to apply the training in the work environment?

– Does the learner see a way in which the learning can be used?

– Will the learner have the space and time to apply their learning?

– What expectations does the learner have of receiving coaching and feedback as they apply their learning


Line manager involvement is key


Kevin noted how these elements suggest that the involvement and support of the learner’s line manager is key, and probed Robert a little more on this. Robert emphasised that the manager is key to the learner developing a sense of accountability for applying their learning and that this, in turn, depends on there being a dialogue with the manager before and after the learning. Robert noted how often “most people are held accountable for participating” but that this is not enough for learning to deliver real and consequential value to the organisation.


The conversation then moved to talk about the importance of generating more engagement from these same managers, with Robert noting that managers can easily undo the benefits of training if they are not careful. Robert shared an anecdote about his time in the US Navy, highlighting how a very positive experience attending a training programme in Washington D.C. was undone in mere moments by a dismissive comment from his superior officer upon Robert’s arrival back at his home base.


Kevin asked why L&D professionals often struggle to secure the engagement and involvement of learners’ managers, and Robert highlighted how L&D professionals sometimes approach such managers in a “supplicant” manner, essentially saying “I need your help…” This respectful tone of request conveys a submissive positioning of L&D and Robert suggested instead that a more appropriate approach would be as a business partner presenting the business value as the reason for the training. When a manager can’t see what benefit the training will yield for them it’s too easy for them to dismiss it.


In another anecdote, Robert noted how a senior leader at a major financial institution responded when asked “Tell me what you expected from the training”. “Not a damn thing, which is exactly what I got. As far as I’m concerned, the quicker it’s over the better,” was their response.


Managers and leaders need evidence about learning’s value, In Brinkerhoff’s view, much impact is lost because of what he calls the “manager self-fulfilling prophecy cycle” that occurs. That is, managers have not been shown explicitly how some training may help them increase their employee’s performance, thus helping them as managers improve their own KPIs. Lacking this awareness, they expect little from the training, and thus do not support it. This lack of support limits or even negates the impact, so the managers’ expectations are indeed fulfilled. “See?” they tell themselves, “I did not waste time supporting training that I didn’t expect results from, and I was right! There were no results” As L&D leaders, we have to try to reverse that negative cycle. Help managers see and expect the value the training can produce for them, help them see how to support it, then show them the evidence that training (when it is supported) does indeed produce value. If we as L&D leaders cannot make a case that the training will add value and produce impact and tell that story explicitly, then we have no business asking managers to support it.


Robert went on to share an example where he was able to supply data on how a programme generated a 42% increase in sales for those learners who attended the programme when they and their managers had engaged in dialogue about what to expect by way of applying the learning   before and after the programme. There was also evidence that learners who did not have this before-and-after dialogue did not experience these strongly positive results. When the sponsors of his programme saw the evidence, they took aggressive steps to require managers (and in turn the managers of those managers) to be accountable for engaging in this support behaviour. These results continued to grow as more learners all discussed with their respective managers what they’d learn, how they’ll use that learning, and what their manager’s expectations of them were. In Robert’s summation words, “Where there’s evidence, you’ll get interest.”



The Promote® Platform


The final part of the discussion explored the value of the Promote platform. HPC uses Promote to facilitate learning transfer for clients and to create a compelling blended experience for programme participants. Since starting to use the platform in 2016, it has supported thousands of learners to continue their learning journey beyond the “classroom”. Kevin first came across the Promote platform when reading a report that Robert had joined the company as an advisor and he was curious as to how Robert had become involved. Robert first encountered the platform after he had retired, noting that for most of his career training was event-focused. Robert knew of the importance of the before and after factors that wrap around a training event, as well as the reliance on managers, all of which was hard to do. The Promote platform, in Robert’s words, was “what we’ve needed all along! When I saw it, I came off the retirement bench to get involved as much as I could in this promising technology!” The platform allows you to manage the before and after factors, giving you control and allowing you to connect with your learners in their workplace. Equally, there is no place to hide for a learner anymore because we can see it and do something about it. With Promote, learners are accountable for doing something useful with their learning.


Robert also discussed Promote’s Manager Support tool that is based on research conducted by him and Professor Kevin Ford of Michigan State University. This ground-breaking tool is designed to enhance training impact through strategic managerial support, providing a practical guide for managers to determine the right level and type of support for their teams. It is available to all Promote licensees, and Robert hopes many will give it a try.


Attendee Questions


As Kevin and Robert wrapped up their conversation, Robert graciously took two questions from the audience. The first question to Robert was “if he felt that L&D professionals needed to become more sales and marketing-focused to sell the benefits of learning solutions to a business.” Robert emphasised the importance of L&D professionals using data to provide evidence that training pays off, and even to show when learning is not being fully utilised and how a business could get more from it. He used the term “User education” to remind us that learning doesn’t just work magically and that you need to do something with the learning to get value from it. Being able to show a manager what is working, and where there is value not being fully exploited is very impactful. He spoke about a shift in the “user” mindset about learning. Learning is no longer about filling seats but instead is concerned with making sure L&D provides value to our clients. He ended this response by urging L&D professionals to “market the bejesus out of learning to clients”.


The final audience question asked how we can engage leaders of leaders in pre- and post-workshop activities. In Robert’s view, this challenge really reflects what our collective mission is moving forward. He noted that if we want to build a learning culture, we need to tell the story of learning’s value. This is a whole organisational effort and can’t just be delegated to the L&D function. When learning was successful it was because the learners and their managers all did certain things. When you don’t do those things, don’t expect positive results. Robert concluded by suggesting that managers should be held accountable for supporting the learning of those they manage.


Professor Robert Brinkerhoff


Robert is an internationally recognised expert in learning effectiveness and evaluation. For over 40 years, he has provided consultancy services to dozens of multinational organisations including the U.S. Postal Service, Apple and The World Bank. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and conference presenter and has authored several books including The Success Case Method, Telling Training’s Story and Improving Performance through Learning.


He is currently President of The Brinkerhoff Evaluation Institute and Head of Research at Promote International where he created the ‘High Performance Learning Journey’ (HPLJ) methodology. In 2018, HPC facilitators were certified as Ireland’s first HPLJ practitioners. His work powers the Promote platform – a learner-centric app that HPC utilises in client work to embed learning and instil behavioural change.


Connect with Robert on LinkedIn >>>

Find out more about the Promote Platform >>>


Kevin Hannigan – HPC


Kevin leads the Learning and Talent Consulting offering and is also a Client Director at HPC. He works with clients to develop, deliver and evaluate bespoke solutions that drive performance across their business.


He is a highly skilled consultant and facilitator with a wealth of experience in designing the systems and processes that support effective learning, measurement and talent development.


Before joining HPC in 2013, Kevin was head of learning and development for Matheson, Ireland’s largest law firm and for C&C Ireland.




Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn >>>


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In a world where near-constant change is the new normal, HPC’s Justin Kinnear explores how a courageous and curious mindset helps to unlock our in-built change capabilities.



Reflecting recently with a group of leaders on their experiences with change, some leaders declared themselves to be ‘good at change’ while others were not so positively disposed. Is it true? Are some of us “good at change” while others are not so lucky? Reassuringly, we are all equipped with the internal ability to enable change and now is the time to embrace and unlock these capabilities.


Your past is your destiny


Many of us were exposed as children to stories of the family business, where a founder grandparent passed down the reins to a child, who in turn did the same for their child. Some of these stories are humble while others are more noble and glorious, such as a line of ancestors in the military or at the top of sport. Without trying, many of us may have formed notions that, in some way, our destinies were set by the acts of our forebears. Previous generations brought up in turbulent times tended to emphasise the importance of stability, certainty, and being in control of one’s path through life. Growing up in an environment that suggested the family business or skillset was in one’s future, coupled with strong messages not to stray too far from previous successes, all helped to create conditions that suited low-risk, low-ambition thinking in many people. 


I might change if you will help me


The world of course has changed, at first slowly but then more rapidly. Technology alone has changed every workplace and home through personal computers, internet, mobile phones, and recently AI. Margaret Heffernan noted in her book Uncharted that while humans don’t like change, favouring stability and routine, we are very good at change when it is demanded of us. However, our willingness to step towards change depends enormously on our feeling of psychological safety. The extent to which we think we will be supported and encouraged as we try something new matters greatly. Sadly, this is not always the case, and some of our change experiences have been poorly supported and have caused some of us to develop a deep-seated fear of change.


It’s how I’m made


Curiously as newer insights into the functioning of the human brain are revealed, we have come to discover that our brains are already positively disposed towards change. The amazing concept of neuroplasticity described by Norman Doidge, showed us how brains may create new neural pathways where existing pathways suffered damage. The spectacular work of Lisa Feldman Barrett explains how our brains are busy all night planning how to deploy emotional and energy resources tomorrow in a massive predictive effort. When those predictions go wrong our brains learn from the experience to do better next time, all without much conscious input from us as humans.


Environment still matters


In her seminal work on mindsets, Carol Dweck reminded us that how we choose to respond to the world we experience has a huge bearing on how open we are to change. Given how necessary change is, one could be forgiven for assuming everyone would just step toward change. Dweck’s work showed us that some of us are powerfully convinced that we can’t change and that we are indeed limited by what we have today. To fully engage the power of our change-oriented brains, we must revisit our beliefs about ourselves. We must make conscious decisions to learn, to fail, and to understand that all growth requires us to step into unknown spaces and engage with new experiences. An open-to-change mindset can thankfully be cultivated over time and will allow each person to be at their very best as they move toward the next change experience.



New era, new change expectations


When Bob Dylan released “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in 1964 it no doubt resonated with people who could see change happening all around them. History since then has taught us that every generation feels like this. Things are changing faster than ever before, and while we would like to stop all the change for a little while to draw breath, this simply isn’t going to be possible. So, as we face ever faster and more dramatic changes in our lives at work and home, we need to revisit our personal beliefs about change. While a yearning for stability and predictability is very human, not least because it tries to preserve scarce decisional resources, your brain is perfectly capable of learning, evolving, presenting you with decision options, and weighing risk. We can’t expect the level of change to lessen, so we must embrace the need for continuous change and personal evolution.


Which brings us to leaders


We know that individuals are more apt to move toward change when they feel psychologically safe, and this safety is created by those who lead us. We know our mindset shapes how we feel about change and personal growth. We also know our leaders play a big part in helping us understand our fears, beliefs, and self-efficacy profile. Most of all, we watch what others do when it comes to change. How they react to change matters. What they say about change matters. Nobody shapes our perspective on change more than the person we follow – the leaders in our organisations, communities, or families. Leaders show the way. Leaders set the tone. Leaders determine if change is good, necessary and exciting; will it generate possibilities; or if change is something else.


We might not all feel the same way about an upcoming change. We may not all relish the challenge of crisis or discontinuity. We can all cope with these challenges, but only by letting go of the worn-out belief that we can’t change. Our brains are designed to adapt, but our minds often try to avoid the work. In a world where more change is certain, embrace your own in-built capability to learn, try, fail, and ultimately change.



Justin Kinnear – HPC


Justin is Head of Research at HPC and is at the forefront of creating blended content that is relevant, impactful and in line with the current needs of individuals and teams. Justin undertakes external research and analysis for leading L&D bodies and works in collaboration with our clients to evaluate the impact of HPC’s solutions within their organisations.


His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


Last December, the HPC team had the pleasure of meeting Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson at a private event in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.


It was the eve of HPC’s sponsorship of the L&DI Annual Conference at which Amy was the keynote speaker. She had just flown in from London after winning the Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award for Right Kind of Wrong – based on her research into psychological safety and how to learn from failure and take better risks.



Her book won over the judges with its “systematic, richly illustrated exploration of how to build on “intelligent failure” and its critique of the craze for failure that often hypnotises entrepreneurs and innovators.”


Attendees of the Annual Conference were buzzing about her presence and delighted when they all received a copy of her book. Having read his copy, HPC’s Head of Research, Justin Kinnear dives into the key messages from the book and the high level takeaways that resonate throughout.



A fresh look at a new time


Professor Edmondson’s writings on “psychological safety” have been well known and understood since 1999. Books, articles, podcasts, and videos have all explained the critical importance of psychological safety, and have painted a clear picture of what happens to a work environment and a person when psychological safety is missing. This book, while revisiting and reinforcing some of Amy’s long-standing contentions, comes at an opportune time for us all.


What’s the key message?


Creating and maintaining psychological safety is still as critical as ever. Particularly if we want people to disclose important failures and mistakes and to learn from them so we can avoid them or adapt how we do things. That message hasn’t changed at all. What has changed is the environment of work and life. We know that psychological safety is key, but that is no guarantee that we will do what’s necessary in our workplaces to bring it into existence.



Why is this so difficult?


We find ourselves living in a time of perfection, where many feel the pressure to always say, do, and be the perfect thing. Coincidentally, we also find ourselves in a time of reduced attention span and ever-weakened ability to focus in detail. Finally, so many of us are exhausted by the relentless pace of life and the unstoppable flow of information. Some of us feel burned out. These three environmental factors – demand for perfection; weakened attention; and exhaustion from the pace of life – all threaten our ability to learn from failures and mistakes. Perfect people shouldn’t make mistakes, or so it goes. Learning takes time and careful attention, and we don’t have either.


Taking the first steps into a new leadership practice


Naming, understanding, and learning from failure requires us to recognise that some people are extremely attached to being right. Being right has become their way of feeling like a valued human being. But we can’t be right all the time, and no human should feel like their value remains only as long as they are right. Helping others to see the value in learning, to embrace what can be discovered from a disclosure that something went wrong or failed, is a critical reframing of what it means to be wrong. Being wrong could create opportunity for powerful learning, for new ways of thinking, and for releasing yourself from the burden that ties your value as a person to being right all the time.


One other key lesson Amy shared in her original work, and still shares as she addresses audiences today, is to show the way by role modelling your own fallibility. She tells the story of a successful airline pilot who begins each flight with new colleagues by disclosing that he has never flown a perfect flight. He tells them that today’s flight will likely be the same and that he is depending on his colleagues to work with him and tell him when something is not right or needs adjusted. This self-disclosure of fallibility helps to tear down the perceived walls of perfection that others can put up around us, or that we ourselves put up, without us knowing.


Overarching advice


Don’t aim to be perfect or right all the time. Slow down and spend some time exploring what happened and what it is teaching us. And recognise that rushing, try to do too much, or working while exhausted causes avoidable mistakes and failures.



Justin Kinnear – HPC


Justin is Head of Research at HPC and is at the forefront of creating blended content that is relevant, impactful and in line with the current needs of individuals and teams. Justin undertakes external research and analysis for leading L&D bodies and works in collaboration with our clients to evaluate the impact of HPC’s solutions within their organisations.


His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


Ahead of HPC’s sponsorship of the L&DI’s National Learning & Development Conference, the Sunday Times explores the theme of ‘reLearning for reInvention’ that will be at the heart of this key event.


Recognised by Thinkers50 this week as the #1 management and business thinker in the world, Novartis Professor of Leadership & Management at Harvard Business School, Amy C. Edmondson will deliver the keynote presentation at this year’s National Learning & Development Conference, hosted by The Learning & Development Institute (L&DI), at Croke Park on December 6th.


Titled reLearning for reInvention, the theme of the Conference will focus on the current landscape for L&D professionals and their organisations focussing on how to navigate a way forward to rethink ways of working.


Amy will explore the theme of her new book ‘Right kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well’, shortlisted for the Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year, and how we and our organisations can embrace our human fallibility, learn exactly when failure is our friend, and prevent most of it when it is not. This is the key to pursuing smart risks and preventing avoidable harm.  This concept of failing well is essential for leaders leading in an uncertain world and building a culture of psychological safety as it matters more than ever in today’s organisations.  This is a culture where problem sharing is encouraged, and where individuals feel safe to bring problems forward, even if they don’t have solutions.


With so much riding on innovation, creativity, and engagement, it is essential to attract, cultivate and retain talented employees – but even more important to ensure that they can speak up to contribute their ideas and expertise. Amy will focus on the role of senior executives in building psychological safety to ensure those high-quality conversations take place.


In a world characterised by constant change and uncertainty, innovation, creativity, and employee engagement are the lifeblood of thriving organisations.


For organisations to thrive in this uncertain world, leaders must be adaptable, willing to step out of their comfort zones, and capable of adopting the most effective leadership style a given situation.






Opening the Conference will be An Post CEO, David McRedmond, who will share his insights on bringing an organisation through reinvention, creating a climate and culture to support people through that change and what it means for leaders today.


Later in the day, the potential of AI within organisational learning and performance support will be dissected in detail by futurist and author, David Kerrigan, who will give a pragmatic overview of the way AI is transforming how people learn. David will paint a picture of the current landscape with a measured forecast of the future. There are tangible impacts and realistic prospects of integrating AI into L&D without losing sight of AI’s role as a tool, not a destination, and David will provide that blueprint.


Feeding into the relearning angle of the Conference, Sacha Dekker, a Leader and Talent Development expert, who has overcome sudden physical adversity, will speak with sincerity and authority about relearning when life doesn’t give you a choice. Her experiences will feed into people’s personal perspectives on growth and evolution of their career – a theme which will be further explored by a panel discussion facilitated by HPC’s Head of Research, Justin Kinnear.


Sinéad Heneghan, CEO at L&DI, stresses the importance of the conference to set L&D’s agenda in Ireland: “We’re delighted to welcome Amy C. Edmondson for our National Conference on December 6th. A thought leader and speaker of the highest calibre, Amy will help L&D professionals in Ireland unearth the connection between creating a safe environment and unlocking the potential for high-performance teams.


“Amy will bring that thinking to a level where we can discover the actionable behaviours that leaders can adopt to cultivate psychological safety within their organisations. She will explain the difference between intelligent, complex, and basic failures, and what leaders must do to ensure that organisations have more of the first type while preventing the other two types.”




This Conference offers L&D and HR professionals unique networking opportunities, fostering a dynamic environment for the free exchange of ideas and the chance to connect with like-minded colleagues. Additionally, the event includes an exhibition area featuring more than 15 organisations supporting the L&D profession, providing attendees with valuable opportunities to enhance their learning experience.


Justin Kinnear, Head of Research at Conference sponsors HPC, adds that “Professor Edmondson’s work continues to powerfully shape the high performing cultures of great teams and great organisations all over the world.


He notes: “Professor Edmondson’s latest work is a timely reminder that our future success depends on us embracing the learning from failure, learning from experiments, and the learning that accrues when we develop a greater understanding of the contexts in which our organisations exist.”


Justin will be chairing a panel discussion that explores how L&D leaders have relearned and reinvented themselves over the course of their careers and what skills they have had to build and rely on.


Justin believes: “The L&DI Conference provides a unique opportunity to embrace Professor Edmondson’s work by coming together and share experiences and approaches, to discuss what worked and what did not, and to use these individual high-value learning exchanges to enhance what we do inside our respective organisations. By truthfully exploring, sharing, and understanding our successes and failures, we can position ourselves strongly for individual, team, and organisational success in the future.”



L&DI & HPC Contributors


Sinéad Heneghan – L&DI

As CEO of the L&DI, Sinéad leads the Institute’s strategic development work and oversees research and engagement with members. This informs the ongoing development of the member offer and continuous professional development opportunities for practitioners.


She has vast experience with Individuals, Corporates, Further and Higher Education Providers and State Agencies and has represented the industry in an influencing and Advocacy role for many years.


She holds an MBA from DCU, MSc in Leadership & Change Management, a BA in Local and Community Development from Maynooth University and a Certificate in Training & Development.


Connect with Sinead on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with L&DI on LinkedIn >>>



Justin Kinnear – HPC

Justin is Head of Research at HPC and is at the forefront of creating blended content that is relevant, impactful and in line with the current needs of individuals and teams. Justin undertakes external research and analysis for leading L&D bodies and works in collaboration with our clients to evaluate the impact of HPC’s solutions within their organisations.


His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

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David Storrs reflects on the key themes from his attendance at this year’s hugely insightful ATD Conference in San Diego.


Each year ATD boasts an impressive range of presentations, workshops and panels with the promise that the event is the best place for learning professionals to “reconnect, recharge, learn, and network”.


For many, the biggest draw was the headlining keynote speaker – Adam Grant, who offered refreshing perspectives that saw the social media backchannel buzzing with live tweets and quotes from the sessions.



As business leaders, we need to get better and faster at rethinking


Few in the L&D or talent development field draws a crowd quite like Adam Grant and in his keynote session ‘Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know’, he certainly lived up to the hype.


In a wide-ranging and captivating keynote, he covered themes such as challenging upwards, accountability, rethinking and unlearning, decision-making, leadership styles, feedback and psychological safety (a key theme across the event this year).


Grant argued that leaders are often good at thinking but not rethinking. Rethinking requires going against conventions, challenging norms, and getting things wrong – hence for many, this can feel too uncomfortable. This is why we need to have a strong ‘challenge network’ when seeking feedback on performance or decisions. These people are unafraid to provide constructive honesty over endless conformance.


Grant proposed that we spend an hour a week thinking about the way we do things currently and using that time to identify what needs to change. In Grant’s words: “Weak leaders shoot the messengers and strong leaders promote the messengers…let’s get better and faster at rethinking.”


AI can enhance what we do in learning, but we must use it with caution


Having climbed an impressive twelve places up the rankings in Donald H Taylor’s Global Sentiment Survey, it was no surprise to see generative AI as one of the most popular themes at ATD 2023. Conversations were mainly speculative over the potential of AI and what could happen in the future – no one has the answers yet, but we know developments are happening rapidly.


There’s no doubt that AI will affect every aspect of L&D in future, from instructional design to learning management systems and delivery methods. Within a few years, we might expect it to impact a merging of technologies. Could AI with VR, for example, have the potential to create highly realistic, in-the-moment behaviour-based scenarios and deliver solutions at scale? We will leave the tech wizards to answer this!


It will be particularly interesting to see if AI makes its way into coaching. One presenter at ATD talked about how they used both real coaches and AI versions in their coaching practice. Whilst the experience was rated equal by the coachees, there was concern about the potential of glitches with the AI version. There is also the risk that the company could lay itself open to litigation from a coachee experiencing a potentially career-derailing impact as a result of this method, which highlights how we must approach it with caution.


In essence, developments in AI will enable us all in many ways in the coming months. But in the near future, the step change will probably be in the domain of the large corporates who will likely develop their own versions to solve their security challenges. The truly transformational impact will undoubtedly happen for all of us in L&D. And by ATD 24 we should have a clearer idea on how this revolution will play out in our profession.



Learner engagement requires time, space and psychological safety


Common themes across exhibitors, presentations and conversations with attendees were the subjects of psychological safety, learning in the flow of work and learner engagement.


‘Build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t ring true in the context of learning and development, no matter how impressive your technology is. The delivery method won’t automatically guarantee engagement. Instead, we need to go deeper than this and consider the cultures we are creating.


People need to be aware of learning opportunities, understand the relevance to their daily lives and be part of a culture that makes time and space for learning. They need psychological safety to know they can ask questions, share ideas and apply learning without fearing the consequences of failure. No matter how impressive a vendor’s feature set may sound, true engagement starts with a people-first approach and a supportive culture.


In the context of learning in the flow of work, it will be interesting to see how AI enhances access to highly personalised learning on the job, reducing the pressure that stems from a lack of time for learning and the need for constant productivity. While AI tools will help to save time and streamline the process, we still need to be mindful that we are actually supporting the skill of self-directed learning rather than creating workforces that are highly dependent on an overwhelming number of tools.


And this reiterates a key message from ATD 2023: while AI has potential and the learning landscape is fast-evolving, we need to be taking into account how we can use it to enhance, rather than replace, the work we do to get the best out of our people.


We look forward to continuing these conversations with our clients and partners over the course of the year as we all navigate this inflection point in our industry.



David Storrs leads the HPC team as Managing Director and is a key relationship builder amongst many of HPC’s clients.


David is a skilled consultant, facilitator and coach who has many years of experience in the arena of leadership and management. He has a sound awareness and understanding of the specific leadership challenges that face organisations, teams and individuals. He adds valued input into the scoping, design and evaluation of key client solutions, which he oversees at a strategic level.


Prior to taking over HPC in 1999, David spent the early part of his career in the navy followed by a 7 year term in corporate banking with Bank of Ireland.




Connect with David on LinkedIn >>>


Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


Perspective and insights from the annual Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition event at ExCeL London.


Learning Technologies is Europe’s leading showcase of organisational learning and the technology used to support learning at work. Each year, it attracts over 9000 attendees from 50 different countries, and with 200 free seminars and exhibitors, it continues to grow year on year. It’s a key event in the calendar for learning professionals worldwide and is one of the best ways to keep up with the evolving trends in learning and development.


HPC Client Director, Fiona Claridge reflects on her key takeaways from the event.


The first thing to note is that despite ExCeL London being such a vast space, one of the first things you notice when stepping into the exhibition hall is that it’s buzzing with activity. As an event that aims to create exciting and engaging experiences, the sheer wealth of free seminars on offer creates an environment where people actively want to learn.


The 2022 Linkedin Workplace Learning Report highlighted the fact that busy L&D professionals spend less time learning than their HR colleagues, so this was the perfect opportunity to focus on personal development.


When considering new technology, put people and impact first


For those looking to source learning technologies for their organisation, it’s easy to see how the exhibition hall can become overwhelming – everywhere you turn, there are stands pitching a wealth of features including content creation, social learning, data analytics, talent management and, more notably this year, AI.


My advice to anyone heading to the exhibition next year in the hope of sourcing a learning platform is to go well-prepared. Resist the temptation to become swayed by buzzwords – a ‘learning experience platform’ or ‘digital learning ecosystem’ might sound impressive, but without consulting with your stakeholders and gaining a full understanding of the organisational goals you’re supporting, not even the most sophisticated technology can outweigh the importance of putting people and impact first.


Ask yourself:


“What challenges can I expect the learning platform to help solve?”

“What are the behaviours that I am trying to drive in my organisation?”

“What organisational goals am I supporting with L&D?”

“What are the challenges faced by my stakeholders?”

“How can learning technology support a modern, blended approach to L&D?”


Ask yourself honestly what’s going to change in the business after you bring in the technology and roll out the training program. What will change in terms of how you embed the learning? How will you hold people accountable?


Knowing what questions to ask before engaging with vendors will help you narrow your choices to those that align with your objectives around people’s performance. The key is to remember that learning technology should be seen as a tool to help you achieve success and not as a silver bullet to solve all of your L&D challenges for you.


Learning data is more powerful when combined with storytelling


One talk that particularly stood out for me combined a powerful case study with supporting data that helped support a compelling narrative of success. While your stakeholders will always want to see solid data that proves impact, just presenting hard data without context can make it hard for them to understand what’s happened.


This is why the data storytelling approach was so effective.


The session used a good structure with supporting data at each step:


What problems was the organisation facing before the training program?

What was needed to overcome this problem?

How was the solution implemented?

What was the impact? Are there any key results that stand out that support how positive change has happened?


This is a good template to follow when presenting data to stakeholders to gain L&D buy-in. It’s important to understand how you will quantify what success means and use the technology to collect the right data to measure it.


For example, what does the data tell you about learner engagement, impact and learning transfer? Find the story about what happened next and ask learners to share their insights of what it means for them. Get better at collaborating across the organisation to find out what you achieved as a collective. Identify what data you need, how you will collect it and how you can wrap the narrative around it.


A blended learning approach still needs safe space for conversation


In the new, hybrid world of work, it was reassuring to see vendors demonstrating their understanding of how learning should create connection.


Many of them had built-in features enabling learners to share learning material, engage in discussions and deliver feedback virtually. In a blended solution, this is a valuable way of ensuring that connections are not lost – the challenge of self-directed learning is isolation, so having this technology in place ensures a consistent sense of community. Some vendors also offered coaching and line manager support, so feedback could be obtained from multiple sources.


However, we can’t overlook the importance of creating spaces for safe and trusted conversations when using a blended approach. We still need people to feel comfortable answering key questions about their development:


“How does the learning impact me?”

“How will I use and apply this?”

“In what ways am I accountable for my own learning?”


These opportunities for people to self-reflect and understand the role of learning offer a sense of depth rather than breadth, and are a key part of fostering a strong learning culture.



When we consider that organisations with a strong learning culture boast 37% higher productivity, we can see the impact a strong and connected learning culture has on driving real organisational change. Culture relies on genuine connection.



In conclusion


Would I recommend attending the Learning Technologies event to other learning and people development professionals? Absolutely.


It’s an ideal opportunity to keep up with the latest trends in L&D, network with other learning professionals and make time for the personal development we often lack time for.


Conversations around AI and skills-based talent management were very much at the centre of the event this year in alignment with Donald H Taylor’s annual Global Sentiment Survey. While no one has the answers with AI yet, it’s clear that developments are moving fast and it will be interesting to see where we’ll be next year.



Fiona Claridge’s role as Client Director within HPC is to partner with organisations to shape bespoke solutions that achieve impactful results. 


She works in partnership with clients across a diverse range of industry sectors and offers a deep understanding of how ever-changing business needs impact how HPC’s work adds value at a strategic level.


Before joining HPC, Fiona gained consulting experience across many aspects of Talent Development Assessment in global Tech, Pharma and Professional Services organisations including Manpower and Aon as well as niche start-ups such as Own The Room and cut-e.




Connect with Fiona on LinkedIn >>>


Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>


In a world of change and chaos, HPC’s Kevin Hannigan explores how curiosity might see us through.


Looking at where the world is now, it is hard not to think that it is in chaos. Unprecedented technological change, political instability, war on the borders of Europe, a global grain crisis, financial instability and climate change are now part of our daily discourse.


This sense of chaos is no different in the world of business where social, political and technological changes are exacerbated by post-pandemic pressures and the phenomena of the “great resignation” and “quiet quitting”.


How do we deal with the challenges we face and how do we find new solutions that may solve some of our current problems?  


In perhaps his most self-effacing quote, Albert Einstein is reported to have said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”. For those of us lacking Einstein’s gifts, this quote brings great hope but also shines a light on an often under-valued trait: that of curiosity. In a chaotic world dominated by individuals loudly claiming to have answers and telling us what the future will bring, perhaps we need to celebrate the people asking questions and those intent on understanding the world a little more. Where opinion and discourse feel even more polarised than ever, surely we should be spending more time seeking alternative perspectives.


Listening to the scientific research, the case for curiosity is compelling:


Our brains are hardwired to be curious. Research from Berkley shows that we are rewarded for curiosity by dopamine, which is released in the face of a new experience. Other research shows that curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, and greater psychological well-being. It may be the case that people who are already happier tend to be more curious, but since novelty makes us feel good through the release of dopamine, it seems possible that it works both ways.


Curious people also seem not only to do better at work through greater enjoyment, but also to have a greater ability to concentrate. It also appears that a number of organisations take great steps to hire curious individuals and to hardwire curiosity into their practices. Companies such as Google and IDEO have designed their hiring practices to identify the curious and Pixar has developed an approach to idea generation called “plussing” that involves building on ideas without using judgmental language. Instead of rejecting a sketch, for example, a director might find a starting point by saying, “I like Woody’s eyes, and what if we…?” Someone else might jump in with another “plus”. This technique allows people to remain curious, listen actively, respect the ideas of others, and contribute their own.


If all this wasn’t enough, the habit and practice of curiosity also appears to strengthen our social fabric.


Curious people are more likely to expand their social circles and the outcome of meeting people from different backgrounds with different perspectives is, unsurprisingly, greater empathy. Todd Kashdan took his research one step further and found that people were rated as warmer and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in a social exchange. This implies that demonstrating curiosity towards someone is a great way to build your closeness with them. However, this isn’t just about building closeness for its own sake. Research from Dr Jodi Halpern has shown that when doctors are genuinely curious about their patients’ perspectives, both report less anger and frustration, make better decisions, leading to better patient outcomes.


In chaos theory, small differences in initial conditions can yield widely diverging outcomes rendering long-term prediction of their behaviour impossible.


This is the Lorenz “Butterfly Effect” where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. In a complex, even chaotic world, we may not be able to control or even determine how a complex system evolves, but we can control the choices we make that determine the conditions the system faces. Our hardwired sense of curiosity, which has served us for millennia, may turn out to be the trait that we didn’t realise we needed for this era.


Kevin Hannigan leads the Learning and Talent Consulting offering and is also a Client Director at HPC. He works with clients to develop, deliver and evaluate bespoke solutions that drive performance across their business.


He is a highly skilled consultant and facilitator with a wealth of experience in designing the systems and processes that support effective learning, measurement and talent development.


Before joining HPC in 2013, Kevin was head of learning and development for Matheson, Ireland’s largest law firm and for C&C Ireland.




Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn >>>


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When it comes to the use of technology in L&D, what does that refer to? How broad are we speaking? And how does it impact on the ground and strategically for the ever-changing workforce?


The most recent virtual HPC roundtable discussion encompassed the topic of technology and its role across organisations particularly in terms of development. Described according to a number of capacities and settling on the fact that it can have a plethora of interpretations, the talk was seamlessly facilitated by HPC’s Head of Research, Justin Kinnear to encourage a broad discussion. Justin prompted the raising of points pertaining to both the endless progress and ongoing challenges associated with implementing and adapting to different technologies.



Speakers Pauline Rebourgeon (Head of Learning Technology and Innovation, Ericsson) and Alan Reilly (Head of Talent Development, Version 1) offered varied insight and raised discussion with attendees through ongoing interaction including Q&A and breakout rooms. A panel of HR and Learning & Development professionals brought their own experiences of technology adoption with prompts from Justin, throughout.



Meeting needs for businesses and learners


Learning needs and environments are changing. This has brought forward challenges of bridging the gap.


Meeting the needs of the business and the learner have meant that there’s a new stepping up to happen. There has been an increased necessity to reassess and readapt and this is set to be ongoing. Businesses are increasingly holding L&D accountable for skill development. As a result, L&D Leaders are agilely straddling expectations. Learners are asserting themselves for flexibility and require ongoing change.


Hybrid working patterns have changed the social context of work and so, learning must be integrated seamlessly into online work. Learning must go where people live and meet them there. Meanwhile, there’s the balance of seeking human connection and finding new ways to stay motivated just as attention spans are shortening.


Experiments with different technologies


Start small, narrowly focus, experiment and don’t over-engineer it. These were the key factors to consider when the topic of facing challenges and implementing new technologies were up for discussion. A digital roadmap that incorporates various technologies was a common theme. Using a data-centric approach to drive adoption of those technologies is the factor that will increase the likelihood of acceptance by the business.


The changes that have come to the forefront have impacted the acceleration of flexible learning and creative modalities. The use of virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence have been main areas of testing by Pauline. Highlighting the significance of innovation, she highlighted that ‘we’ll never have it fully figured out’ thus encouraging the importance of trying and testing.


Career development and a system that enables the visibility and progression of individuals across the company has been a focus and success, according to Alan. Allowing individuals to have visibility over career paths means enabling them to map where they’re going and move out of silos.


Such experimenting with roadmaps has had a positive impact on global learning. As a result of COVID and the Pandemic, a virtual classroom became the norm. This change has led to ‘the breakdown of barriers and borders’. In companies with people from all over the world, this has enabled varied international learning. Where before, it was not always viable to bring them over here to Ireland, this has been a solution, according to Alan.


Working towards solutions


So, in what ways can these needs be met? And where are they needed most?


Onboarding in an organisation has a huge impact on retention and is a common discussion topic amongst professionals. By having a strong onboarding process, staff can build habits that support their confidence in the role and organisation. It gives them a strong sense of belonging and likelihood of staying. Being innovative in general and coming up with ways of making key decisions for the onboarding process is pivotal.



Another way of positively impacting retention is via career development pathing. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a job longer if they were offered pathways for career development. This showed to be relevant in 2022 as it was raised in breakout rooms and in the wider group citing it as front of mind for L&D.


Key takeaways


When prompted for words that come to mind when connecting to the term ‘learning technologies’’, a broad range was used in the discussion. It is a topic that can envelop a mixture of tactics, strategy and is endlessly dynamic. Persistently revisiting, assessing needs from various angles and adapting are consistent themes in organisations. As for the role of technology in driving this forward? It’s an opportunity to experiment, understand and continue to revisit best practices. As the workplace changes, so too will the role of technology and how it can be utilised to best serve learning needs.


This discussion was part of our HPC Talks series – a small quarterly forum to discuss topics and issues relevant to the world of L&D. If you would like to be kept informed of future events, please contact fiona.claridge@wearehpc.com



HPC Talks Contributors


Pauline Rebourgeon


Pauline is Head of Learning Technology & Innovation at Ericsson, where she has been conducting experiments into using extended realities within the organisation. With more than 10 years of experience in the learning industry, she’s passionate about developing innovative and effective learning experiences. Prior to her role at Ericsson, she held L&D roles in Primark, Indeed.com and Novartis.


Connect with Pauline on LinkedIn >>>



Alan Reilly


Alan Reilly is a Head of Talent Development with 25+ years’ experience working within the IT Consultancy sector and Global Financial Services industry. His remit spans the areas of Talent Development, Early Careers, Organisational & Leadership Development, Succession Planning, Culture & Engagement, Performance Management, Human Resources and Talent Acquisition.


At the time of our event, Alan was Head of Talent Development at Version 1 and was leveraging collective intelligence technology to support the skills gap and development of the organisation’s technical workforce. He is now Learning & Development Manager at Mercury Engineering.


Connect with Alan on LinkedIn >>>


Justin Kinnear – HPC


Justin Kinnear is Head of Research at HPC. His passion for people development and his ability to inspire makes him a key member of HPC’s facilitation and coaching teams.


As well as his extensive research and facilitation experience, he was formerly Head of L&D at IBM and Britvic. His work with HPC focuses on the development of a high performance culture for our clients with a particular emphasis on accountability and feedback.



Connect with Justin on LinkedIn >>>

Connect with HPC on LinkedIn >>>

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