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Ben Betts interviewed for LearningNowTV by Nigel Paine

Throughout the years, Learning Pool has been on a clear trajectory on the Fosway 9-Grid™ and for 2021 the company moved from being a specialist to a platform and also achieved Strategic Leader status. These are all the things that they’ve worked hard to achieve and to grow as a business. In this short interview, Ben Betts, CEO of Learning Pool and Nigel Paine of Learning News, discuss how Learning Pool has adapted to the dramatic change of the past 12 months and what the future holds for the company. Take a listen or read the highlights below. 

It’s been a challenging year for most but amongst the trials and tribulations associated with the pandemic, people have also been incredibly productive – especially at Learning Pool. The team transitioned almost overnight to remote working and they haven’t looked back. 

And despite the challenges, Learning Pool continued to grow throughout 2020. They’re now 260 colleagues strong, working across a range of products and a number of locations. Learning Pool’s improvement on the Fosway 9-Grid™ for Learning Systems and Digital Learning is a testament to the people that work there. 

The company has been moving forward on every front and whilst business during the first three months of last year slowed down as people worked out what the pandemic was, the last three quarters have been record quarters. 

Learning Pool is also the only Strategic Leader on the Fosway 9-Grid™ to have maintained a Lower Total Cost of Ownership. This is fundamental to Learning Pool’s core values and its mission to help the people and partners that choose them, return the greatest ROI. 

From a business perspective, whilst critical business problems and moments of need have changed, the onboarding and operating needs are all still there. Learning Pool has hired 50 people during the pandemic and how you onboard them into your organizations, not only from a business process angle but culturally and socially too, has been a big learning curve for the business. 

Likewise, the license to operate has meant that what was once delivered face-to-face, in perhaps a compliance-type manner, has now moved to continuous compliance where the company is looking at how they regularly check-in with people. Performance progress has obviously changed too and we’re seen all the flow of work stuff really start to come to fruition. It’s been interesting to see Microsoft come to town last week – they’re putting employee engagement at the center of what they do and it’s great to see that they think one of the four pillars of learning experience is the learning itself. 

That’s a big piece of news for the learning industry in general. It’s a big shift to say we’re in a predominantly remote world and we think that learning and wellbeing are going to be fundamental parts of that employee experience now. We’ve just got to elevate that a little bit. 

And of course, transitioning – be it reskilling, upskilling or changing jobs. Whatever that might be has just shifted about dramatically and you only have to see Donald Taylor’s Global Sentiment Survey to see the rise in the need for reskilling/upskilling. 

Nigel questions whether Ben is optimistic as we begin to move forward and operations slowly return to a state of normality. He wonders if we’re going to have more human-centered organizations, ones that recognize that investing in people’s learning, competence, and skill acquisition is the only way to stay on top. Or if it’s going to be a brutal and harsh reality when things go back to how they were. 

Ben explains that the brutal harshness is difficult to predict. It ebbs and flows and economic data coming from the US looks like a ‘V’. However, if you’re in the UK right now it doesn’t look so much that way. There have been some harsh realities over the past 12 months – retailers and big brands have been taken over and thousands of people have lost their jobs. 

But for those who have been fortunate to have kept their job and thrived through this era, the opportunities have never been greater. For Ben in his new CEO capacity, the most important thing is personal growth. Personal growth has taken on a whole new dimension in recent months and it’s incredibly important that businesses provide these opportunities for every employee, at every stage. In some cases, that’ll be simply investing in people’s wellbeing and Learning Pool has seen some wonderful examples of classes being taken online, resilience training amongst other things to help keep people going. At the same time, organizations must invest in their own training, to enable people to make that growth. 

It’s been a tough year, filled with excitement and change, terror and anxiety. Like many, Ben has young children at home which have added to the challenges of the year. But one thing to take from the year is that everyone is in the same boat – whether you have kids at home, whether you’re alone or have elderly/vulnerable relatives – everyone’s got it rough and everyone has a story. 

One thing to take from this experience is to make the time to recognize helpful and unhelpful patterns of behavior. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and we need to learn to ask for help unashamedly when we need it. 

To watch the whole interview, click below:


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