2016: Rethinking Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

social-media-862133_640The other day I was asked in an interview why many in L&D did not participate in much CPD, and how that could be changed.

I said that, in my opinion, the lack of interest in CPD was due to a number of factors, including:

  • Learning often seems to be regarded as something L&D make other people do – not what they do themselves!!
  • Professional Development is generally seen as something that happens through participation in course and programmes, and consequently as something that requires significant (study) effort – so some feel they either haven’t got time for it or they don’t see a need for it.

But CPD is, of course, very important – not just to help improve the way you do your job NOW, but to help you keep abreast of what’s NEW (new ideas and thinking) as well as what’s NEXT (what’s on the horizon).

Training course and programmes can help you with learning the NOW (e.g. how to use a software tool or apply a new process, and conferences can help you find out about the NEW (through the shared experiences of other practitioners), and they might even give you a feel for the NEXT (from thought leaders in the industry).  But in fact that’s not continuous CPD –  in as much as it does not happen continuously – it is intermittent CPD!

Continuous Professional Development happens best through a daily dripfeed of information (from blog and web feeds) and interactions with other people active in your field (in social networks) – which over time builds up into a large body of knowledge and expertise – almost unconsciously. This is particularly useful way of keeping abreast of the NEW and the NEXT in your field of work – bearing in mind that in the fast moving world the horizon is rapidly approaching.

I’ve written before how this continuous approach to CPD is vital for me, as well as the new underlying skills involved (which Harold Jarche refers to as Personal Knowledge Mastery – Seek:Sense:Share – so it is as much about how to manage your online life), and additionally how to build a daily habit of continuous learning so that it becomes a natural part of everyday life.

But I’m not the only one who does this! There are a number of L&D professionals who have already adopted this continuous approach to CPD.  So, for example, if you follow some of the key people in workplace learning on Twitter you will see how they are constantly learning from one another as well as sharing their ideas with one another (by working out loud).

So why is continuous CPD of this type important?

  • It helps you to recognize the fact that learning comes not just from intermittent bouts of education but through continuous interactions with people and access to content (both inside and outside the workplace).
  • It allows you to be exposed to new thinking so that you not only keep your organisation up to date with new ideas, but also keep yourself up to date in terms of your own career. After all, there’s no such thing as a job for life!
  • It helps you to recognize that learning comes not just from something that is organized for you, but something you organise yourself – as well as from daily experiences.
  • It helps you to value this way of learning for yourself, and consequently to help build a continuous learning mindset – rather than an intermittent training mindset – in your organisation

In other words rethinking your own CPD will help you rethink workplace learning.

I firmly believe you have to embody this new continuous learning mindset for your own PD, before you can change the workplace learning mindset.