[Future of Work Ep. 2 P3] Future of Learning and Development with Dan Mackey: Learning Data

The shift to working from home that we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic has its drawbacks, but the office will need to adapt to new work patterns.
By Claudia Virlanuta • Updated on Jan 4, 2023
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Episode highlights:

  • The shift to working from home that we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic has its drawbacks, but the office will need to adapt to new work patterns.
  • Content and services that are customized to meet companies’ needs are the future of the learning and development industry.
  • The privacy of learners' data within their workplaces is an important topic that needs more discussion.


Transcript (edited for clarity)

Claudia: How has your work changed since last year?

DanThe obvious answer is that so many folks are now working remotely. When you are looking for training, you are not having the same conferences and events, you are not having the same amount of in-person live stuff. We have to rely on webinars right now so that our content reaches and is useful for everyone. This dynamic is more prevalent now in COVID times than it was prior. Other things that are going to make a difference are going to be some of the morale elements of work. For example, if you are having a Zoom party, there needs to be other strategies that will account for the morale elements, even if we all wear a party hat and we all have our own supplied cake. You may want to get unique gifts. Even as the focal point of your day-to-day work is more shifted away from a company location and more to the individual’s needs, there is still a purpose. You are not going to do a company-wide meeting or a team workshop in your home office. The challenge is getting the water cooler moments, and there are creative ways to take care of that. For example, the company that first popularized the open floor plan now realizes that may not have been the best way to do it. There may be dozens of types of space aside from just this broad open floor concept. I think that is the way we should look at it. That happens in marketing too – if you are too broad in marketing, you miss the story.


Claudia: What is a cool project or initiative that you have been working on and that you are excited about?

Dan: We initially started primarily with learning and development departments and I have found that an interesting growth spot has been in sales enablement. I have talked to a lot of people about departmental budgets, and sales enablement sometimes has far more of a learning budget than the learning and development team, which is very interesting. One of the areas that we have been spending a lot of time on lately has been scenario-based training and writing realistic scenarios that salespeople would interact with. That includes those presentation milestones that you must hit when you are explaining something to somebody, or you are sharing what you have as an offering. It also includes those objections that people raise and then the sales nuances of reading body language. You must read body language and you have to read tone. You have to understand all of this to read the room and understand the interplay between multiple people in that room. Just being able to take that and develop scenarios that are organic and that seem real, and that can be tailored to any company’s process and their situation. That is the most exciting thing that we are working on right now to develop this capability internally. We have already been developing frameworks and templates and things to say things like: what does it look like for a sales environment and a sales meeting to have a wrong answer given by you or a misstep in speaking about the company? How do you recover from that? There is a lot of sales training out there, but it is more about marrying that to a particular company. I love taking a framework and then customizing it for someone using best practices but including their specific needs and then creating a function around being able to effectively pumping out sales scenarios and a fun dynamic experience for the learners.


C: What other topics would you like to see featured on this show?

D:  Data privacy would be an interesting topic to hit on. You talked about data analytics and what you can get out of a data set, but when you apply that to employees, you must be cautious. We have got clients that did not want us to provide them with the data at all. We do the pilot to make sure that the solution we have is effective, but we are not going to measure success per learner because we do not want an outcome to make a manager to remove someone and that someone to then sue the company thinking that they were let go because of a performance issue on a learning exam. So how do you report off that when you get that requirement? We have got it here at Allarium, and I have had it at past companies too. We had a lot of companies that want to make sure that we are not tracking certain kinds of personal and performance data. I think that would be an interesting topic to see next, to see about what that looks like from a company’s perspective when you want to be able to use this data, but there are privacy issues.


C: Any parting words or things you would like to share with our audience?

D: Go for it. Try it. Do you find something you love? Who cares if you have a day job? Spend a couple hours afterwards, carve out the smallest amount of time to invest in something that you are passionate about that could turn into your thing at some point, and seek out folks that could advise you. I have several different people that I’ve reached out to [when launching Allarium]. I had a great conversation with an advisor of mine a couple of days ago, so get this kind of people and get their feedback early and often.


Claudia Virlanuta

CEO | Data Scientist

Claudia Virlanuta

Claudia is a data scientist, consultant and trainer. She is the CEO of Edlitera, a data science and machine learning training and consulting company helping teams and businesses futureproof themselves and turn their data into profits.

Before Edlitera, Claudia taught Computer Science at Harvard, and worked in biotech (Qiagen), marketing tech (ZoomInfo), and ecommerce (Wayfair). Claudia earned her degree in Economics from Yale, with a focus on Statistics and Computer Science.