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The idea of change is crucial in Learning and Development (L&D) as success in this field usually hinges on change occurring in some way. Success is often gauged by asking Does this project achieve change in thinking or behaviour and how does it do this? 

Talking about change is easy. Getting this to actually happen is more difficult. There are many different factors that need to come together at the right time and in the right way to push beyond talking about change, into actually achieving this in an observable and enduring way.

It felt great to recently win two learning awards at the New Zealand Association of Training and Development (NZATD) conference. The winning initiatives were Rākau Roroa for Changing Minds and The 5 Whys for HEB Construction.

In many ways these projects couldn’t be more different. Different needs, different audiences and obviously very different content. Scratch beneath the surface though, and there are similarities. Both were created for the purpose of bringing about some kind of change in their environment. Both used a combination of elearning and face to face modalities. Both had a clear purpose and outcome in mind, with a clear plan for implementation. Both are deemed successful by the L&D community in NZ. 

The following is an interview with clients and co-creators on these projects – Taimi Allen from Changing Minds and Lesley Southwick from HEB – to explore the thinking that fed into the success of these projects.


Taimi Allen is the CEO at Changing Minds. 

As Chief Experience Officer, Taimi leads Changing Minds to envisage and create holistic services which combine face to face connection, technology and creativity. Some of these include Whakatau Mai, the world’s first online, real time, free and fully accessible wellbeing sessions, RecoVry, a virtual reality empathy building platform and of course Rākau Roroa, New Zealand’s lived experience leadership initiative and social movement. 


Tell me a little about Rākau Roroa

Rākau Roroa (Tall Trees) is a blended learning initiative owned and delivered by Changing Minds. https://www.changingminds.org.nz/currentprojects/rakauroroa

Through Rākau Roroa we train and support a growing network of people who want to use their personal lived experience of mental distress and recovery to inspire others. By the end of their training people are able to use their own story safely, to encourage help-seeking, make sense of their own experiences and champion positive mental health messages in their communities. The learning is underpinned by a Human Rights framework and a Te Ao Maori worldview, and safe-story sharing practice is guided by a specially developed tikanga, or rules for sharing/engaging with others. 


Why did you create it? What was the business need for this?

 Like Minds – a public awareness programme in New Zealand – identified a need to resource people with lived experience of mental distress with skills to develop their leadership potential. Rākau Roroa is a blended programme which seeks to empower those with their own lived experience to lead this transformation for the greater wellbeing of our future generations via evidence-based strategies to reduce prejudice, self-stigma, and discrimination. 


What was important to you in this piece of work? 

We really wanted to develop a coherent and authentic programme that reflects our core lived experience values. That’s why it was critical that the team at Smartwork Creative went through  Rākau Roroa themselves before they started work on the elearning. Rākau Roroa is built on principles of connection, empowerment and support. The elearning needed to reflect this to allow the learners to build their leadership capability in a way that feels right for them.


What does good learning mean to you?

 Good learning is something that successfully enables a desired outcome – for me this involves empowering critical thinking and self reflection in some way. Good learning needs to be built on solid needs analysis and stakeholder engagement – the more people are consulted and listened to the better the outcomes will be. All of this takes time- it can’t be rushed unfortunately. The learning also needs to speak to the user – it needs to be engaging and interactive. Getting the learner to do something is really important in order to make the learning stick.


Lesley Southwick is the national Learning and Development Manager at HEB Construction. 

Lesley has overall responsibility for the strategic planning & development of the leadership, wellness, people & culture programmes and health & safety training and engagement programmes, as well as graduate programmes and apprenticeships. The national learning and development manager is a very diverse role and Lesley works closely with engineers, supervisors, labourers, as well as leaders and managers.


What does good training mean to you?

 For me, good training is something that has practical application to the job. I like training that is contextualised to the role and the business and has good examples. Scenario-based training is very effective in this way. 

 I also think good training challenges or changes behaviour in some way. For  this to happen learners need to see themselves in the training. Sometimes this is a small thing, a small design feature can make all the difference. A lot of good content can be wasted if the example of the scenario is not quite right. 


What role does company culture play in enabling the success of an L&D project?

 I really believe that being inclusive leads to better outcomes and in this way I think that company culture plays a big role. A big part of this is managers understanding the importance of upskilling and supporting the implementation by making time for it to be done well.


Where do you think workplace training is heading?

 I think people are increasingly looking for flexible, personalised training that fits around their work. I also think people have moved on from seeing elearning or online learning as the ultimate fix. 

 For HEB –  the blended  approach – where elearning is supported by face to face meetings is definitely the best. 

 It’s about learning equity really. 

Elearning is a great tool and there  are now more online options available, but they are not accessible to everyone. People don’t always have the digital literacy tools to use and navigate these options and it becomes a real barrier. So it’s great to have digital training solutions, but face to face is really important to us – it’s a safety net for those who can’t access those digital opportunities. 


Tell me a little about the 5 Whys module

 The 5 Whys module, which falls out of our larger critical risk programme, is about getting all levels of the business to address the root cause of an incident in the same way. We wanted a simple framework that gave everyone a way to talk about risk. Many people – especially those at more junior levels – didn’t know they could have this conversation or how they could have it. The 5 Whys is a starting point for this conversation and it empowers them to speak up.


What do you particularly like about the 5 Whys module?

 This module is very much HEB, with excellent branding and scenarios. The design, animation and use of voice overs gave learners many different ways to access and engage with the content. 


How was it implemented?

 All the managers and supervisors did the elearning separately. The training was then rolled out at a number of roadshows throughout the country where everyone could do the elearning and talk about it in groups. 

 The feedback was very positive and our people are now using this framework. It’s really opened the door to the conversation, which is the change we wanted to achieve.