Local Sentiment Survey
A non-data-driven take on what will be hot in workplace L&D in 2023
A couple of weeks ago, Don Taylor published the results of the Global Sentiment Survey 2023.
For the last ten years, the survey has asked L&D professionals one big question: ‘What will be hot in workplace L&D this year?’ Respondents are invited to select three of sixteen options, including an ‘Other’ option, where they can enter free text.
This year, the three most popular options were:
Reskilling/upskilling – 12.0%
Artificial intelligence – 9.2%
Skills-based talent management – 9.0%
What I love about the GSS is its simplicity. Don is very clear about what it is and what it isn’t. When I discussed the results with him on the podcast (due out tomorrow), he said:
It’s called the ‘Global Sentiment Survey’ for a reason. We ask people what they think is ‘hot’. We don’t define what ‘hot’ is, we don’t define what the terms mean. We just want a sense of what they are excited about. […] It isn’t a guide to what’s going to happen, it isn’t a look at how people are spending their budgets, and it isn’t a view of where trends are going in the future, necessarily.
In other words, it tells us what our colleagues will be talking about this year, whether at conferences, on Twitter, or in the pub.
While I always find the results of the GSS fascinating, I occasionally find them surprising.
So, for this edition of the Dispatch, I’ve decided to share my own responses to the GSS, my reasoning for each selection, and where I respectfully disagree with my peers.
1. Artificial intelligence (GSS ranking – 2nd)
Okay, so switching the first and second-ranking options may not be that controversial. But I think the results may be understating the excitement surrounding AI. For one thing, and as Don points out in this blog post, the survey was launched just eight days after the launch of ChatGPT. Since then, the topic has (to an extent) broken into the mainstream, and I wonder if the same survey conducted today would still place reskilling/upskilling in the top spot.
Historically, as data from the GSS shows, initial excitement about a new technology is often followed by a steady decline in its popularity, as the allure of the possible collides with the hard reality of the practical, or the technology becomes part of business as usual. But I think AI might be different for reasons I won’t go into in detail here. (Ask me in the pub, and I’ll bore you for hours.)
Suffice it, for now, to say that AI is already changing the way people work. As this trend continues, what ‘work’ looks like will evolve, and L&D will have to evolve with it.
2. Showing value (GSS ranking – 9th)
I considered picking ‘learning analytics’ (GSS ranking – 4th) as my second choice but decided ‘showing value’ implied similar intent, and was slightly more expansive in scope.
While this certainly isn’t a new issue for L&D, conversations with clients suggest that it is becoming increasingly relevant in the current economic environment.
As businesses look to drive efficiency and reduce costs, L&D budgets will come under increased scrutiny. The question, then, will not just be ‘Did our intervention deliver impact?’ but ‘Did it do so cost-effectively?’
3. Virtual and augmented reality (GSS ranking – 13th)
I don’t think I genuinely believe AR/VR will be ‘hot’ this year, but I want to end on a spicy, contrarian note. So let me try to persuade you, and myself.
I’ve had a MetaQuest 2 headset for over a year now, and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the experiences it offers are genuinely immersive, with clear applications for learning. On the other hand, it’s kind of uncomfortable having a console strapped to your face for more than thirty minutes at a time.
Meta’s bet on the Metaverse (a new option on the GSS this year) doesn’t seem to have paid off just yet. But I think it would be a mistake to write off the concept, or the technology behind it, entirely.
Apple are rumoured to be developing their own VR headset, and have a track record of re-packaging existing technologies in ways that consumers find appealing. 2023 may not be VR/AR’s ‘ChatGPT moment’, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the conversation surrounding the technology looks very different in twelve months.
🎧 On the podcast
If you’re looking for a learning platform, then you’ve got quite the decision to make! Not only is the market huge and complicated, but it can also be an expensive purchase. In this week’s episode of the podcast, Ross G and Gemma are joined by EdTech Consultant Stella Lee, an expert in navigating the decision process.
In the conversation, Stella covers key questions to answer before you go shopping, “red flags” to look out for, and the role of AI in learning platforms. Listen here for more:
📖 Deep dive
It was all over the headlines last week, but a major trial into the impact of a four day working week concluded with positive results for most of the companies involved. Of the 2,900 employees across the UK who took part, 39% said they were less stressed, 40% were sleeping better and 54% said it was easier to balance work and home responsibilities.
The number of sick days taken during the trial fell by about two-thirds and 57% fewer staff left the firms taking part compared with the same period a year earlier.
Across the firms taking part, the approach adopted varied dramatically - so it’s worth digging into the full report. One thing we noted is that only 22% of firms taking part had more than 50 staff, so it might be that this flexibility is easier for smaller organisations.
As ever, more research is needed.
Lewis, K., Stronge, W., ... & Mullens, F. (2023). The results are in: The UK's four-day week pilot. Autonomy.
👹 Missing links
The Select Committe on the Modernization of Congress was set up for conflict. Instead, they made a deliberate effort to spend time together, shared staff, hired a mediator and carved out time to listen to each other. This story in The Washington Post explains how they did it, with lessons for anyone trying to break an impasse at work.
I enjoyed reading Julia MacDonald’s Twitter thread on McKinsey’s approach to solving complex problems. It’s thorough, well-structured, and practical. It’s worth bookmarking for the next time you need to build a business case or tackle an issue, and may also be a useful technique for solving workplace learning challenges.
This description of teaching was created by ChatGPT, following a prompt from @MikeBWTaylor, where he asked it to describe teaching in the style of Philomena Cunk. The whole post is hilarious and, if we’re honest, pretty accurate.
In case you missed this elsewhere, the New York Times’ Kevin Roose recently had a disturbing conversation with ‘Sydney’, Bing’s AI chatbot. Microsoft has since made changes to the chatbot.
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