The Future of Learning is about Creativity

The future of learning will be very different from today.   If I share knowledge and proven ideas with you, however engaging, it does not necessarily mean you will understand it, It definitely does not guarantee that you will apply this as a practical skill or behaviour back in the workplace.   This is because words don’t teach.  Our experience is the master of learning.  It is experiential activities which are the future of learning.

I hear, and I forget
Then I see, and I remember
Finally, I do, and I understand.
—Ancient Chinese proverb

Whilst most people involved in learning know and agree with this ancient Chinese Proverb, over 90% of corporate training programs remain all about ‘information’ (telling), as opposed to ‘transformation’ (discovery and change).

Companies will be left behind

Unless this ratio changes, companies are going to be left behind. They may even disappear as technologically fuelled disruption unfolds.
This is not scaremongering or being dramatic.  Traditionally learning comprised of:

  • Compliance, instead of commitment and engagement.
  • Blame, instead of ownership and responsibility.
  • Outmoded thoughts and beliefs, instead of creativity and change.

Ironically, companies urgently need employees to be highly creative and engaged right now. Yet many leadership and learning practices continue to ‘spoon-feed’ people.
Creativity requires that we primarily employ the faculty of imagination, not just the memory. When we spoon-fed preconceived ‘right’ and ‘wrong ways,’ ‘good/bad‘ practices to people.  We are forcing them to access the faculty of memory, not their imagination.

Neuroscience of Play

To be truly creative in workplaces requires that we create a culture of ‘play.’ It is imperative that the word ‘play’ stops being a dirty word in the workplace.  Instead, it becomes the foundation on which culture is built.

In-play we explore, experience, discover and practice.  This is exactly what is required to create and solve complex problems. Play is transformational, not informational.

Perhaps because of its childlike, non-serious nature, play has been neglected by ‘serious’ scientists and leaders. It has received very little funding and investment for scientific research. Given where we are in our technological evolution and the disruption we are experiencing, this is proving detrimental.  It is the key reason that social and workplace culture change is failing to change in line with technological advancement.

“The opposite to play is not work, its depression” Dr Stuart Brown – play@work – TED – Dr Stuart Brown

According to the brilliant scientist, Dr Stuart Brown, co-author of “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul,” our species has been produced to play throughout adulthood.

Workplace productivity doesn’t have to be serious

So why on Earth we think that workplace productivity equals being serious at work remains a mystery.

Sadly, not only are many workplaces serious, they are extremely stressful,.  This shuts down the brain’s ability to think creatively, collaborate, or for that matter be productive in any way. This is not a situation that can continue if companies are serious about being innovative players in their field.

In the past few weeks, I have carried out a number of demos with the Café Style methodology with various L&D and OD professionals. This really did highlight to me the extent of the challenge of getting companies to think differently. Not only about the future of learning and their channels of learning but the methods of how they now develop their people moving further into the disruptive age.

During these demos, a common question about the ‘activities’ is along the lines of “Why is there not a lot of ‘information’ being shared on each one subject?” And “How will the people learn enough about the subject without plenty of information and knowledge being shared?”

The information doesn’t increase business improvement

For me this is so profound because there appears to be a common belief is that more ‘information’ and the ‘quality’ of that ‘information,’ or giving people the answer equates to great training and learning outcomes, that in turn would translate into behaviour change and business improvement. Yet, this could not be further from the truth, especially when the outcome required by the organization is to develop a culture of creative thinking, collaboration, and ownership.

It seems that we have all been so indoctrinated by the command and ‘control’ educational and workplace systems that were developed in the Industrial Revolution. It appears to be proving so difficult for many leaders and learning professionals to release control and trust that individuals and groups can discover and create for themselves. Although this is indeed the future of learning

In Summary

It does seem that whilst we desperately want our employees to think creatively and take ownership.  We still want to tell them what to do and how to think.

It is imperative that we understand that there simply is not a choice here, there is no halfway measures. In order to evoke creative thinking and ownership, as leaders and learning professionals we must let go of ‘controlling’ and ‘prescriptive’ interventions and be willing to be the ‘facilitators’ that allow people to think, discover and create for themselves.

Let’s not forget that there is no shortage of information and knowledge that can be accessed at the click of a button 24/7 from the University of Planet Earth – The Internet.

‘Our people don’t need more information, what they need is a transformation!’


As a master facilitator, experienced group coach, design, and innovator in digital L&D practices, London based Fi has been successfully transforming behaviour and culture for the past 15 years.

As an innovator in learning and culture change, she is recognised as the ‘teacher of teachers’ in transformation. The creator of Cafe Style learning, a bite-size experiential learning methodology that is proven to accelerate learning in organisations across Europe, Middle East and South East Asia.  She has now digitised her method to support the exponentially changing workplace.

Her trail-blazing new method of digital scalable microcoaching is now delivered through a coach in your pocket app, housing transformational programmes for leaders and staff. Used for development, resilience, and wellbeing it is getting great results, allowing organisations to digitise and scale coaching in just minutes per day.

Her latest innovation, the Virtual Coffeehouse app to help organisations digitise, blend and scale coaching, build resilience and an emotionally fit workforce.

Fi has worked extensively to support both public and private sector organisations in the UK and Internationally. Her clients have included: Deutsche Bank India, BT, London Borough Lambeth, Royal Borough of Kingston, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, NHS, Durham Police, Northumbria Police, New York Life, Legal and General, Department of International Trade, Employsure, Gemini Parking Solutions, Energy Saving Trust, Kent Police, London & Quadrant and many more.

“Fi herself is a fireball of energy and wisdom What’s great is that she gets to know all of the individuals, working with deep attention from within, not just delivering another standard package. Her events are lively, energetic, and fun! Fi is a fireball of energy and wisdom whose personality drives that fun and engagement. A delight, fun, engaging and touching experience”

– Rob Chorley – Legal and General