Why L&D professionals should embrace microlearning and neuroscience

by John Hilton06 May 2016
L&D Professional interviews Chien Ping Tham, Regional Head of Learning & Development, Asia at Willis Towers Watson in Singapore, for his insights.

LDP: What do you see as the most important part of your L&D program?

CPT: Any program related to L&D has to be business focused and driven. In other words, it has to be aligned to supporting business objectives and strategies. 

LDP: What do you see as the most challenging aspects of L&D for your organisation?

CPT: Lack of resources (time and money) when it comes to L&D activities. Seasoned L&D practitioners would understand that this is a perennial challenge in all dynamic organisations. People and businesses are always on the move, which makes the job challenging!

LDP: What parts of L&D do you find the most interesting and exciting?

CPT: Many parts, from the look of discovery on the faces of workshop participants, to turning around sceptical managers on what L&D can do to equip their employees to improve their performance, to business leaders mentioning how L&D has impacted positively to the business results. Lately I have embraced some latest research in adult learning, namely neuroscience and microlearning, and both have started to create excitement in my job as well and I expect more to come!

LDP: What aspects of neuroscience are you interested in?

CPT: I remembered my first encounter with neuroscience was when I was on a flight home after my annual self-sponsored sabbatical in the States back in 2012. There was a Ted Talk video which featured David Rock, the person who first coined the word “neuroleadership”.  His explanation of the “SCARF” model resonated with me as it addresses the limitation I find with other models related to people engagement. By using the increasing knowledge of what we know about our brain into areas of learning, I believe this opens up a whole lot more opportunity to innovate how we help others learn, beyond what we are already doing.      

LDP: What aspects of microlearning are you interested in?

CPT: The very fact that we are already doing it for decades and we are not aware of it! I see microlearning as a discipline that all Instructional Designers or Trainers should learn and practice, how learning can be designed and delivered in ways to ensure that transfer of learning and the learning experience are optimised. To visualise this, it is like breaking up a pill before dissolving it into a glass of water. It is a lot more efficient and effective than trying to dissolve the pill as a whole. 

LDP: What are some key lessons you have learned with regards to L&D?

CPT: It is not just about L&D! L&D really is a cornerstone of HR, and essential level where effective OD interventions start, and a starting point for any Talent Development strategy in an organisation. L&D practitioners are also chameleons of sorts. We have to be functional extroverts in front of a room full of workshop participants, while at the same time being able to ponder and reflect on learning strategies and plans that would increasingly bring the best ROI out of the least we can work with.

LDP: Are there any trends which are influencing your L&D?

CPT: Definitely. I see the L&D function increasingly not just focusing on training, but in fact on the performance of employees and teams to departments and functions. I am almost certain that in a few years on we will see hybrid functions or roles where L&D will become L, T (Talent) and O(Organisation) Development. Each will no longer be a standalone if the ultimate aim is to bring about better performance for the entire organization.

LDP: Do you hope to introduce any interesting new L&D initiatives in the near future?

CPT: I am looking at knowing more about neuroscience and its impact on learning, and hopefully I can share some successful initiatives I have taken in the wider community.

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Why DBS Bank is building a talent pipeline for the finance industry 

‘L&D is a culture, not just a department’: Youi 

Why Suncorp Bank is introducing virtual classrooms