Submarine control panel. Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pearl Harbor. Personal collection.

How do we measure the impact of informal and incidental learning on organizational performance?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Evidence from learning science clearly identifies how to strengthen learning culture in ways that will drive performance. However, in a recent study conducted by Learning Strategies International (LSi), we quickly found limitations and gaps in the data available from the organization examined, despite the best effort by the organization’s staff to answer our questions and requests. We found two gaps that needed to be addressed before the most effective approaches to develop capabilities could  be applied usefully – and their impact measured: The gap between a commitment in principle to learning and skepticism about its actual value. (This gap surprised us.) Gaps in data and reporting needed to measure internal learning (and how to improve it). We believe that the first gap (skepticism about the value of learning) is the direct result of the second (lack of measurement). Without a measure of its impact on performance, internal (staff) learning is likely …

Painting at Trigonos (25 January 2017). Personal collection.

The future of learning that could have been

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

In June 2017, the Institute’s president, together with its Chief Learning Officer (CLO), convened an all-hands-on-deck meeting to announce the Institute’s commitment to strengthening its learning culture of innovation and change through an innovative, evidence-based internal learning strategy. Staff were invited to nominate and then elect representatives to the Learning & Development Committee (LDC), mandated with the challenge of ingraining learning “karma in the walls and halls” as key to delivering on its promise to prepare a new generation for the coming humanitarian challenges. In July, the Institute performed its first benchmark of learning culture and performance. This demonstrated that staff learning is key to mission, financial, and knowledge performance (ie, to delivering results). This benchmark was followed by a learning practice audit in August that woke both managers and staff to their existing strengths and the amazing ways in which they were already continually learning at the point of …

Dawn in Trigonos, Snowdonia National Park, Caernarfon, Wales

4 rules for the digital transformation of partnerships

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar, Learning strategy

This is a recorded version of my presentation, followed by Catherine Russ‘s report on a session that I presented and facilitated at the Remote partnering workshop held on 23-26 January 2017 in Caernarfon, Wales. Here is what Catherine Russ wrote in the workshop’s Report on Technology and Learning. In this session we delved into the reality that partnerships often become remote because those involved can no longer afford to meet together physically. Increasingly, collaboration, dialogue, and feedback are simply assumed to take place from a distance. What do we lose – and is there anything to gain – when the rules have changed: Sharing physical space is no longer a necessary condition to partnering. Sharing physical space is increasingly a medium in which we can no longer afford to develop partnerships. The value of shared physical space is primarily cultural, a rapid way to accrue social capital that underpins social relations. What we are enabled …

Towers of technology

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar, Learning strategy

This came up in one of the Live Learning Moments in the first week of the Geneva Learning Foundation’s #DigitalScholar course: This is for Reda: I’m very used to the Coursera/EdX kind of LMS and I’m finding it difficult to follow the course related postings and schedules on the digital learning community currently. I just feel that we are missing some structure. This comment calls for reflection on the knowledge architecture of Scholar in relation to other technologies. In the first week of #Digital Scholar, we examined the architecture of the lecture and the classroom. I understand the yearning and the preference for a container view of knowledge, even though I believe the time has come to autopsy the discipline known as knowledge management. This view is reassuring because it is familiar. It mirrors the experience of mass industrial-age education that has shaped most of us. But does it correspond to …

Wet Times Square (Kenny Louie/

Choose your own adventure

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Presentations

This is my presentation at the Online Learning Summit in London on 16 June 2015. I asked participants to choose between a set of four questions: Question #1: Why are learning, education and training so impervious to change? Number two is the Extinction Event question: It’s 2025. Your organization ceased to exist in 2020.  What happened? What was your role, i.e. the role of the learning leader in what happened?  What are you doing now? Question #3 is about LSi’s capabilities: What problems can we help you solve? And, last but not least, Question #4: why does e-learning suck? I will let you guess which question(s) were chosen for the discussion and workshop… Credit where credit is due: the Then-And-Now photo series is from a brilliant presentation by Michael T. Moe at the Global Leadership Congress held in Philadelphia a long time ago where I was a featured speaker. The Ferrari pit stop crew as …

Peter Paul Rubens. From 1577 to 1640. Antwerp. Medusa's head. KHM Vienna.

Experience and blended learning: two heads of the humanitarian training chimera

Reda Sadki Design, Events, Learning design, Learning strategy, Thinking aloud

Experience is the best teacher, we say. This is a testament to our lack of applicable quality standards for training and its professionalization, our inability to act on what has consequently become the fairly empty mantra of 70-20-10, and the blinders that keep the economics (low-volume, high-cost face-to-face training with no measurable outcomes pays the bills of many humanitarian workers, and per diem feeds many trainees…) of humanitarian education out of the picture. We are still dropping people into the deep end of the pool (i.e., mission) and hoping that they somehow figure out how to swim. We are where the National Basketball Association in the United States was in 1976. However, if the Kermit Washingtons in our space were to call our Pete Newells (i.e., those of us who design, deliver, or manage humanitarian training), what do we have to offer? The corollary to this question is why no one seems to care? How …

Read the news (Georgie Pauwels/

Publishing as learning

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

We are both consumers and producers of publications, whether in print or online. Publications are static containers for knowledge from the pre-Internet era. Even if they are now mostly digital, the ways in which we think about them remains tied to the past. Nevertheless, at their best, they provide a useful reference point, baseline, or benchmark to establish a high-quality standard that is easy, cheap and effective to disseminate. In the worst, they take so much time to prepare that they are out of date even before they are ready for circulation, reflect consensus that is so watered-down as to be unusable, and are expensive – especially when printed copies are needed – to produce, disseminate, stock and revise. With respect to the knowledge we consume, some of us may heretically scorn formal guidelines and other publications. Reading as an activity “remains a challenge”. Others manage to set aside time to …

Empty (schnaars/

Why we secretly hate webinars

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Webinars reproduce the structure and format of the formal training workshop in an online space. The sole positive distinction for participants is that they may now participate from anywhere. However, to ask questions or otherwise contribute requires one to be present at a specific time (synchronously). Recordings of webinars are usually made available, so in theory we may catch up after the event but lose the ability to connect to others… and seldom actually do. If there wasn’t time (or justification) when it happened, that is unlikely to change later. Like the face-to-face workshops they emulate, webinars require us to stop work in order to learn, which we can seldom afford or justify. They are mostly transmissive, as the available tools (Webex, for example) do not facilitate conversation. By default, most facilitators will mute everyone in a conference to avoid an unintelligible cacophony of multiple squawking voices. Despite the existence …

Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History, Houston Texas, USA (Texas.713/

Why supposedly boring conference calls are actually amazing

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Where phone and Skype remain the gold standard for one-to-one communication (and learning), many of us find value in conference calls, irrespective of the technology (phone, Skype, Webex, Hangouts…) used. Conference calls may seem as unimpressive or mundane as that other piece of paradigm-changing learning technology, the whiteboard – but that’s the point. They are learning technology that is already embedded into the fabric of work, and directly contribute to informal and incidental learning across time and geography. The pedagogical affordances of conference calls include structure, transparency, dialogue, and accountability. Photo: Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History,  Houston Texas, USA (Texas.713/

Ici on consulte le bottin, panneau à la Closerie des Lilas, Paris (Hotels-HPRG/

How do we use technology to embed learning into work?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Of the myriad technologies in use, we may find it useful to focus our attention on those that (1) are now widely used, to examine their benefits and the process for their acceptance; (2) continue to be used, despite the existence of better alternatives; or (3) are new and in use only by early adopters. We may also classify technologies depending on whether they are synchronous (need to be connected at the same time) or asynchronous (anytime, anywhere), networked (for group communication) or individual (self-initiated or self-guided). In this next series of posts, I’ll look at the relevance and limitations for learning of conference calls and webinars, as well as the place of print-centric publications in our learning (work) lives. Photo: Ici on consulte le bottin, panneau à la Closerie des Lilas, Paris (Hotels-HPRG/