Michael Parker is the Executive Manager, Group Learning and Development at Commonwealth Bank. In part 2 of our learning conversation we talk about the challenges faced by learning in banks and his current passions in the field of learning, Part 1 can be found here.
Jeevan Joshi: Moving on to the banking industry, which is in flux due to the after effects of the GFC, can you discern any trends on how learning may change in banks, given that it is likely the spend on learning and training may be contained?
Michael Parker: Personally I think the finance industry will become more cost-conscious and focus on maximizing the return on the dollar spent for L&D. It is important that it is just not solely about the cost to attend or deliver a training program but more about choosing or designing the most effective learning solution for the result needed.
We will see better use of blended learning, which are truly blended, not just throwing in different activities without much attention to integrating them i.e. moving on from the concept of blended learning being; a bit of pre-work, attend a workshop today, complete an action plan and maybe read an article next week.
Jeevan Joshi: That is a good point. I mentioned to one of my customers that most blended learning today is like blending oil and water. LMS and online courses are the oil and classroom training is the water. They are thrown in together in an attempt to blend them but they never mix.
Michael Parker: I now see far more interest in training programs which get past the “workshop only” mentality to enable learning transfer to happen after the workshop. In many instances it may not include a face to face workshop component at all.
The other thing I see is the way that we use technology to leverage its cost benefit but still achieve our learning objectives, better use of webinars, teleconferences and even having co-facilitators present from remote locations. These modes of delivery help us reduce costs, use our budget more effectively and provide choice for the learner.
Jeevan Joshi: Sure. Are there any drawbacks from this approach? Is the quality of learning likely to suffer?
Michael Parker: Certainly, if we don’t govern it well or complete the original scope or needs analysis effectively. For example the use of rapid e-learning tools. Great advancements have been made in these development tools and continue to evolve in providing more features plus being exceptionally user-friendly. I have seen some tools that can very easily convert your PowerPoint slides into SCORM compliant e-Learning courses.
Now that scares me. The danger is that we see a proliferation of poorly designed “read and flick” e-learning courses imposed on our learners.
Jeevan Joshi: Michael, what currently interests you in the field of learning?
Michael Parker: I am very interested in the neuroscience of learning, how it drives us as learners and how it can be applied to coaching and build people capability in our business.
At a more base level is my passion for “compliance learning”, strange as it may sound. This is because of the high volume of compliance learning required in banks and the complete lack of enjoyment for the millions of people who complete it. My passion is how to ensure we deliver “learning” into our compliance learning.
Jeevan Joshi: I assume this is about making compliance learning more interesting. Is that likely to increase cost?
Michael Parker: Only part of it is making compliance learning interesting, the other part, which is a real challenge for the learning community, is to effectively manage content. So if you look at our compliance courses, we generally don’t recognize any prior learning, and generally contribute to a “tick and flick” culture when it comes to mandatory learning
For example, someone may have joined us from another financial organization, heading up their Anti Money Laundering function however the process still requires them to complete the basic“101” Anti Money Laundering course during induction. Surely if we were smart enough all that is needed is to validate their knowledge. This is where the cost benefit comes into the picture. In this case the person spends five minutes completing an assessment instead of completing a 30 minute “101” course.
Jeevan Joshi: Thank you very much for your time. It has been interesting talking to you, especially about your passion for compliance learning.
Michael Parker: Thank you.