The L&D Blog

Taking control of your time

If someone was to ask you how well do you think you do managing your time what would you say? Is there still room for improvement?

Today’s world is moving so quickly with constant advances in technology, access to information and communication that we think there will always be room for improvement when it comes to managing our time.

Ironically it must be admitted that such advancements in technology can certainly help with this too, but remember only if the technology is managed correctly and you are the one in control.

Setting your time management boundaries

You’ve got to set the rules and boundaries up for yourself in order to implement and master efficient time management that works for you and your role. Consider these key areas when setting your boundaries:

Take care of yourself
Seem strange to be in this list? Trying to do much, in too little time without clear time management boundaries spells out disaster. Sleep well, eat well, get some exercise. Making time for yourself is your first priority and the rest will fall into place much more easily and happily.

Goals and priorities
Make sure you know what these are for yourself and your business, both the short and the long term. Finally, make sure you spend the time to regularly review these and adjust where needed.

Obvious we know but often we are under so much pressure with deadlines and expectations that we rush full pelt into the ‘doing’ without the planning, only to bite you on the bottom later on in the task/project. Take that time to plan appropriately at the start.

Build trusted process and habits
Whether it’s delete, do, delegate or defer when it comes to email management, setting your default diary or a bit of yoga every Monday morning, create what you need to feel in control to do your job happily and efficiently. You can then re-use processes and develop habits more easily as new tasks and activities come along.

And finally be disciplined
Remember you are allowed to delegate and say no, politely and without justification. Avoid distraction – do not have your mobile phone in a meeting, on your desk when writing that presentation or focusing on the task in hand.

Want to chat through anything in this article or talk about any training related to mastering your time do get in touch, we love talking time management.

CIPD Leaders in Learning – Driving the new learning organisation

CIPD Leaders in Learning events

These are free events for L&D professionals (not just members) to attend, to learn, network and discuss with peers the current real challenges facing the industry.

If you were not lucky enough to make this event, look at the CIPD website for future events.

The topic this time around: Driving the new learning organisation

25 years ago, Peter Senge released his seminal work, The Fifth Discipline:  The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation.

This described five disciplines that must be mastered when introducing learning into an organisation:

  • Systems thinking
  • Personal mastery
  • Mental models
  • Building shared visions
  • Team learning

With advances in technology and systems to connect people (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Skype for Business etc) the past few years have seen people discuss the possibility that Senge’s vision could be realised in organisations.

This has led Towards Maturity to create a report “Driving the new learning organisation – How to unlock the potential of L&D”

The results are fascinating and should be considered by both L&D but indeed any department or individual within an organisation.

Some of the key stats from the report show that Top Deck Organisations (the top 10% of the result who are embracing the new learning organisation) are:

  • 3 x more likely to achieve growth
  • 4 x more responsive to change and transformation
  • 3 x more productive
  • 3 x more likely to report sustained profitability

How powerful are these figures? Show them to senior leaders and ask them if they’d like to achieve this level of competitive edge?

Impact on people

However, the statistics fail to mention anything about the impact on people, a point raised in the room by Jose Franca, Head of L&D at Edelman.  So, it raises the question, are organisations more focused on the stats and performance figures ahead of people engagement.   This shouldn’t be a problem, it’s on us in L&D to use these results to justify why solid investment is needed in people development.

So, what are the 6 characteristics of the New Learning Organisation

Towards Maturity has used the data to uncover six characteristics that will guide you to unlock potential by driving a future-focused New Learning Organisation.  These are:

Characterisitcs of the new learning organisation

I’d recommend reading the report to drill deeper into each one of these points.

Three further questions were posed during the discussions.   The answers from each session will be collated by the CIPD, I’ve shared the answers from the group I was with.

What key aspects of L&D strategy are needed to support the new learning organisation?

  • An approach to performance management i.e. appraisals (formal), career chats (informal)
  • A structured approach to L&D – the L&D function knows how people view L&D and its role in the organisation.
  • Continued robust analysis of the organisation and impact of L&D
  • Enablers for culture change and growth mindset – systems as well as people.

What are the implications of the new learning organisations on the focus and capability of the L&D team?

  • More strategic – understanding business needs
  • Enable self-directed learning – provide the motivation and structure for employees
  • Confidence to constructively challenge themselves 
  • New disciplines – data analysis, marketing, technical – to the L&D professional
  • Market their services to their employees – view as customers
  • Involve end users – unleash creativity and have user-generated content
  • Flexible learning options for employees to choose
  • Individual development to be celebrated
  • Dare to make L&D redundant? Can the employee generate, curate and share content?

What are the implications of the new learning organisation for the business?

  • Create culture of knowledge sharing (stepping away from silo learning)
  • Allow people time to both share knowledge and learn
  • Accept you need to keep developing people to maintain competitive edge
  • Accept some people will leave but you’ll be able to recruit well
  • Clarity and transparency about career progression and learning to support this


Upon reflection

The topdeck organisations looking to drive new learning organisations are breaking down cultural walls, offering innovative solutions and engaging with the business, at employee and manager level.They are standing out.

If you are looking to be in that topdeck, improve the culture of L&D within your organisation and make the changes to drive a new learning organisation then now is the time to set the wheels in motion.   Review your strategy, create the tactical plans, get input from the topdeck, use your expertise to make these changes happen and show your value as a L&D professional.

If you want to chat about your situation or bounce ideas off then let me know, I’d be happy to talk L&D with you.  Email me at

Blake – Founder Optimus Learning Services

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Training

GDPR Training to ensure your company is ready for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changes and avoid fines and unnecessary costs.

On May 25, 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced, significantly increasing potential fines and costs for data processing in EU member countries and anywhere EU personally identifiable information (PII) is processed. GDPR replaces the existing patchwork of EU National Data Protection legislation and brings a degree of consistency to the data protection landscape in Europe.

GDPR legislatively embodies the well-recognised privacy principles of transparency, fairness, and accountability and attempts to introduce a risk-based approach that enables innovation and participation in the global digital economy while respecting individual rights.

GDPR is a complex set of requirements which needs to be addressed through a mixture of people, process and technology. As such organisations will need to adopt the right business processes in conjunction with appropriate technology solutions to move toward compliance.

Principle 6 of the GDPR states that personal data should be “processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures”

This means that our approach to GPDR is to provide customers with the building blocks they need to address the challenges they will face in planning to deal with the regulations.

We have identified the best GDPR training solutions to address your requirements

Generic GDPR training:

GDPR (EU – General Data Protection Regulation) Foundation

This one day introductory GDPR training course, delivered by a data protection specialist, provides an introduction into the compliance of the new EU Data Protection regulations. Gain understanding of the requirements and how that impacts you and your organisation. Consider the implications of Brexit on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and your organisation.  Read more. 

GDPR (EU – General Data Protection Regulation) Practitioner

This four day comprehensive practitioner GDPR training course, with independent APMG exam, will provide a practical guide to planning, implementing and maintaining compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Regulations. Read more. 

IAPP certificated GDPR training

IAPP certifications are the leading privacy certifications for thousands of professionals around the world.  The GDPR training solutions on offer will serve the following needs of their organisations:

  • Data protection
  • Information auditing
  • Information security
  • Legal compliance and/or risk management

Certified Information Privacy Professional Europe (CIPP-E)

Principles of Data Protection in Europe covers the essential pan-European and national data protection laws, as well as industry-standard best practices for corporate compliance with these laws. Those taking this course will gain an understanding of the European model for privacy enforcement, key privacy terminology and practical concepts concerning the protection of personal data and trans-border data flows. The training is based on the body of knowledge for the IAPP’s ANSI accredited Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E) certification program

Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM)

Principles of Privacy Program Management is the how-to training on implementing a privacy program framework, managing the privacy program operational lifecycle and structuring a knowledgeable, high-performing privacy team. Those taking this course will learn the skills to manage privacy in an organization through process and technology—regardless of jurisdiction or industry. The Principles of Privacy Program Management training is based on the body of knowledge for the IAPP’s ANSI accredited Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) certification program.

Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT)

The Principles of Privacy in Technology training is the how-to course on privacy and data protection practices in the development, engineering, deployment and auditing of IT products and services. Those taking the course will develop an understanding of privacy-related issues and practices in the context of the design and implementation of information and communication technologies and systems. The training is based on the body of knowledge for the IAPP’s ANSI accredited Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) certification program.

Vendor Specific GDPR training:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with Cisco (GDPRC)

This one-day training course will provide a good understanding of the new regulation, the changes it will bring and the potential impact it will have on your organisation. It will also examine the Cisco products, solutions and services to help provide customers with the key access, network, cloud and end-point technology building blocks to address the challenges they face in dealing with this regulation

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with Microsoft (GDPRMS)

This one-day training course will provide a good understanding of the new regulation, the changes it will bring and the potential impact it will have on your organisation. It will also examine the Microsoft products and solutions to help provide customers with the key technology building blocks to address the challenges they face in dealing with this regulation.

If you are looking to run in-house GDPR training we can provide you with the trainers.  Contact us to discuss your GDPR training requirements via or call 0845 519 7408.

The Modern Learning Leader masterclass

We are excited to inform you about a new kind of training masterclass for modern learning leaders in the UK delivered by L&D shining light Sukh Pabial.


This two-day masterclass is designed to develop your skills and knowledge as a modern learning leader. As modern learning leaders, there’s a growing expectation that you will understand and know modern learning theories and practice.  That you’ll know how to use these in the design of learning solutions for your organisations. This masterclass will help explore topics such as:

  • modern understanding of the human condition and how this enables us to be better learning leaders
  • instructional design and the importance of good e-content and resources
  • social learning technologies and how to apply them in learning solution design
  • user experience and how this makes a difference for programme design
  • adult learning theories and how to design learning better for adults

You’ll leave the masterclass better able to understand how to design modern learning solutions, and with a practical understanding of how to apply the learning.


Wednesday 13th to 14th September in Farringdon, London.


Over these two days, it’s a showcase of what a modern learning event looks like, feels like, its design and its delivery. It’s been designed in this way to provide a clear pathway and development of your skills and knowledge in being able to take the insights and apply them to your organisations.


Sukh Pabial is over 20 years experience of Learning & Organisational Development Leader, Positive Psychology and can be called a true Modern Learning Leader.  Read more about Sukh on Twitter


You’ll receive pre-recorded webinars free of charge (normally £30 each) in advance of the masterclass.

These will help to establish a baseline of learning content and resources, which we’ll then explore and discuss at the masterclass.

Sukh will also invite you to be part of a Slack group where we’ll share content, resources, and insights to develop our capabilities in using social networks for learning.

The webinars are:

  • The Human Condition
  • Instructional Design
  • User Experience
  • Adult Learning Theories
  • Social Learning Technologies

The webinars will all be hosted by Sukh, and each one will have a special guest to help deliver the content.


To purchase the Masterclass at a special price of £400 + VAT please contact Blake at or call 0845 519 7408.

The 9 step process for mid-year review

Taking time out to carry out your own performance mid-year review is crucial for your own career progression and development. It’s a great way to:

  • Check that you are progressing toward your goals
  • Ensure your goals are still relevant
  • Review your successes so far
  • Reflect on what is and isn’t working.
  • Determine your next 6 months actions
  • Identify skills gaps and relevant training needs

We recommend that you carry out performance reviews at least once every 6 months. Ideally once a month would be good to review progress and development.

Continue reading “The 9 step process for mid-year review”

PRINCE2 training 2017 Update

PRINCE2 training is one of the most popular training subjects we source and manage on behalf of our clients.

PRINCE2 is firmly established as the world’s most practised method for project management and is globally recognised for delivering successful projects.

Mid-2017 marks the arrival of the updated PRINCE2 guidance (Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2) and new Foundation and Practitioner examinations. Together, these form the PRINCE2 2017 update and represent the first major update to PRINCE2 since 2009.

Continue reading “PRINCE2 training 2017 Update”

Learning from Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2017

Attending industry events such as the Learning Technologies Summer Forum are a great opportunity to review where the industry has got to but also where your company L&D plans are at too, especially as we have hit mid-way through 2017 already!  

The learning programme at this event was jam packed as always with such a great range of L&D topics, we thought we would share our thoughts from the show and answer some key questions our clients have been asking:

What comes after the LMS Learning Systems?

We all know that “digital learning” is no longer the new kid on the block however there are still questions regarding the measures of success, the impact of it and where it has the most impact.

The Fosway Group have put together some excellent research notably their Digital Learning Realities Research 2017 report, a summary of which can be seen below.


So to answer the questions of what comes after the LMS, the Fosway Group highlighted that both the traditional LMS and the next generation learning platforms can exist together. Neither is better as it depends on what your organisation’s requirements are.

If you are in a heavy regulated industry then it’s likely you’ll have a strong demand for compliant training. Therefore a LMS would work perfectly.

For those of you not in this position and you have both the culture and resources – a next generation platform, which promotes social learning, would be right for you.

As with everything, context is key. Consider your organisation, where it’s at now and where it might be in 5 years. Then decide on what software or system is right for you.


Micro learning – how it really works and who’s using it successfully?

Micro learning has become a major talking point in learning and development for the past few years.

Is it something new or just a new label?

We think it’s the former. A re-labelling of an approach that many of already us use but perhaps don’t realise it.

In simple terms, it’s a way of organising self-directed learning and performance support into small chunks. This can be spaced across a period of time (breaking down larger chunks, being a resource in between larger chunks for new, or used to reinforce learning).

Remember, micro learning can be used across all delivery approaches and media – it’s not just e-learning so mix up the digital and analogue resources and ask for feedback from your employees to establish their preferences.

And finally ‘Putting it all into practice:  L&D professionals taking a 21st Century approach’

This session was what we were looking to the most. Hearing from Charles Jennings as well as examples from two senior L&D professionals; Jeff Kortenbosch senior eLearning specialist Akzo Nobel and Anca Lordache, Head of Social Learning and Collaboration Citi.

Jeff spoke about the journey to the 70:20:10 culture.  He had some inspiring advice for anyone interested in adopting this approach:

  • Ask yourself “what change can you make today that will impact tomorrow?
  • Follow thought leaders
  • Learn more about the model
  • Do something – get started

We agree. There will always be lots, perhaps too much to do, but get going on something. Momentum builds motivation and the same applies to your employees.

Anca gave us a greater understanding of the process and how they achieved it with Citi:

It all started in 2014 when their CEO said “employees need to learn how to take control of their own development”. Since then they’ve had to go through stages – the Align/Equip which covered raising awareness, aligning the business, equipping employee and raising interest, before moving on to the Engage/Sustain stage, focused on engaging and equipping stakeholders and sustaining the approach.

Remember, you need to ensure your organisation’s culture will accept the concept of 70:20:10.

We say don’t be perturbed by adopting 70:20:10. It’s an approach, the numbers aren’t fixed in stone. So if your employees are focused on obtaining certifications through formal training or a business need for certified staff then your numbers might look more 40:30:30. And that’s good enough.

We’ve said for a while now that L&D needs evolution, with incremental steps rather than trying to change everything overnight and this is further proof. Even with massive resources (which we know many of you don’t) it will take a few years for your organisation to adopt.

In the words of Jeff Kortenbosch – “Think long term but don’t let it stop you from starting”

And in the words of Blake Henegan – “Keep asking questions. You never know what you’ll receive”.  I was kindly given a copy of the ‘702010 Towards 100% Performance’ co-authored by Charles Jennings.

Will let you know my book review in due course – its looking good so far.

So whether you are implementing systems, new learning approaches or trying to work out the best way to actually do it all – good luck!

Excel training for employees to improve their skills

We have seen an exceptional increase in demand for Excel training over the past 6 months. It surely is also the significantly most popular Microsoft Office application for training that we arrange. Could now be the time for your employees to improve their Excel skills?

Range of modules

Excel has traditionally been one of those pieces of software that people would pick up and learn themselves. Very few though would go beyond the basic level of knowledge.

However, organisations are increasingly expecting their employees to have a higher level of competency with Excel. We’ve been helping companies train their staff in Excel in the following areas:

  • Excel for finance management
  • Data modelling using Excel
  • Introduction to Excel formulas
  • VBA for Excel

Range of training formats

We’ve delivered in a range of formats as well focussing on always sourcing the best quality training and ensuring companies avoid overpaying on such courses. Where there is a group demand we’ve been organising in-house Excel training including modular sessions, bitesize, lunch and learn, floorwalking to compliment half and full day sessions.

We always recommend in-house training to our clients wherever possible. This allows learners to more easily bring company work for practice and overall is a much better use of time for all employees involved, reducing costs and travel time to external venues.

As well as face to face training for company-wide Excel training requirements, we’ve also identified excellent e-learning and digital learning solutions too.

Time for an upgrade?

Whichever way you want to help your employees learn we can help you create a programme that has the greatest impact on performance for your organisation.

To find out more about the Excel training programmes we can help with or indeed any training on the Microsoft Office suite, drop us an email at or give us a call on 0845 519 7408.

Apprenticeship Levy help is here

Here at Optimus Learning Services we believe the Apprenticeship levy is a real opportunity for L&D to build on their relationship with the organisation and want to help L&D maximise the Apprenticeship Levy.

We’ve been asked by a number of clients our thoughts and advice about the strategic and operational approach to the Apprenticeship Levy.

We also know that some of the key areas that organisations are trying to get their head round include reimbursement, standards mapping, recruitment and provider selection.

Strategic considerations

Organisations will need to start thinking about some of these strategic areas:

  • Assessing existing capability
  • Mapping internal programmes to new standards
  • Reviewing operating models e.g. single provider, multi-provider
  • Progression route for existing employees into apprenticeships
  • Creating engagement and communication plans
  • Developing thorough training plans

Operational considerations

Organisations will need also to consider:

  • Digital Apprenticeship system
  • Provider management
  • Process management
  • Administration

Apprenticeship Levy advice and resources

We will soon be launching a series of advice guides so do keep an eye out for these.

In the meantime, whether you just want some independent advice or to bounce your ideas around, drop us an email at and we’ll arrange a time to chat.

The Apprenticeship Levy – it’s a fantastic opportunity

The Apprenticeship Levy represents a wonderful opportunity for organisations,  L&D and employees alike.

It’s transcending traditional L&D. For example, finance wants to know how the money’s being recouped, operations are wondering what the “off the job” learning time means to productivity levels. HR need to know how they recruit apprentices if they need to. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Conversation starters

It means that L&D can now have access to and have truly meaningful conversations with parts of the business that previously may have been disengaged with L&D. Therefore, having a great understanding of the Apprenticeship Levy and what it means is crucial.

Over the next few months, we are going to help you clarify and demystify the Apprenticeship Levy, what it means and how you and your business can use it in the best way possible.

Keeping you updated

We’ll keep you updated with any changes in legislation. We are going to try and get a definite answer from the Government about the manifesto pledges for using the Levy to pay for wages and passing it down the supply chain. We’ll also bring you case studies, interviews and hints & tips from those companies who have alreday embraced the Apprenticeship Levy.

Free expert levy consultations

If you are struggling to determine how you can turn your Apprenticeship Levy into a fantastic opportunity for your business and employees you’ll be pleased to know we are offering free consultations. You can use this time to discuss your strategy, approach and any other aspects of the Levy you may be unsure of.

To book your free consultation with our levy experts please email or call Blake on 0845 519 7408.