L&D Blog » Mind Tools at ATD 2019


This May, Mind Tools was proud to take part in the ATD International Conference & Exposition in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest event for talent development and learning professionals.

ATD 2019 attracted more than 10,000 delegates to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We were delighted to be there to share our Corporate offering with L&D leaders from around the globe.

As well as exhibiting at the event, our CEO, Oliver Craddock, gave a joint presentation with the Chief Insight Officer at Towards Maturity, Jane Daly. They discussed the new white paper we’ve worked on together, “Challenging Perceptions: Optimizing Performance by Aligning With the Needs of the Consumer Learner.”

Our Client Success Manager, Ricky Patel (second right in the photograph above) was part of the Mind Tools team in Washington. Ricky gave me his take on ATD 2019.

Inspiring Speakers

“There were so many great speakers this year,” Ricky told me. “They ranged from business giants and leaders of industry to media superstars like Eric Whitacre and Oprah Winfrey.”

In between meeting people at the Mind Tools stand, and exploring the event for himself, Ricky got the chance to hear the keynote speech given by entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin.

“He said we’re living in revolutionary times,” Ricky recalled. “As artificial intelligence advances, many roles are already being replaced by technology. So, to future-proof our careers, we need to let our human skills shine.

“Seth explained that it’s qualities like empathy, creativity and insight that distinguish us from the artificial intelligence we create. It’s our ‘human skills,’ or ‘useful skills’ (also known as ‘soft skills’) that will help us to make change happen, make an impact, and make ‘art,’ whatever type of organization we’re in.”

So how do we nurture those skills – in ourselves, and in our people?

Ricky noted that Seth Godin emphasized the word “development.”

“He’s passionate about people getting ongoing opportunities to learn and grow, and the inspiration to keep challenging themselves. With the right resources, they’ll actively choose to learn, keep doing it – and enjoy it!”

Liberated learning is a key theme in Seth Godin’s book, ‘The Icarus Deception,’ and Ricky heard Seth explore the idea further during his ATD address.

“He got us to rethink the whole Icarus story from Greek myth. Yes, Icarus’s father told him not to fly too close to the sun. But he also warned against flying too low, because staying close to the ocean is even more dangerous! And we’ll all fail in the end if we continually play it safe.

“Conformity no longer equates with comfort. In order to soar, we need to be brave innovators, continually pushing the boundaries. Our people need leaders who support that, and the right tools to drive their own learning.”

Key Themes

ATD 2019 gave Ricky the opportunity to speak directly with a wide range of L&D practitioners. He was keen to hear about their L&D strategies, and to discuss the sort of learning solutions they’re looking for.

A common conversation was about the challenges faced by L&D teams to meet their learners’ needs. “And that gave me the chance to talk about our latest white paper,” Ricky said.

“In ‘Challenging Perceptions,’ we explore what L&D professionals think their learners need – but also what those individual learners have to say. And there are some big differences!

“The data shows that L&D practitioners tend to be much more critical of their organizations’ efforts than the learners themselves. For example, only 45 percent of L&D practitioners say that L&D is discussed as part of a performance review or appraisal, whereas 68 percent of learners say that it is!

“And, although only 26 percent of L&D practitioners say self-directed learning is common in their organization, 86 percent of learners say they’re actually learning all the time, as part of their everyday work.”

The white paper takes a detailed look at these and other key differences in people’s perceptions. Crucially, it also explores how we can challenge them.

“Lots of people were talking about that at ATD,” Ricky recalled. “L&D teams are eager to discover how their learners really think and feel – and then to use those insights to engage and inspire them. They know it’s going to be a key step toward creating a culture of learning that’s right for today’s learners.”

See For Yourself

Keen to read the research in full? Our white paper will be available for download soon, so watch this space to get your copy for free!

See You Soon!

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited the Mind Tools stand at ATD 2019. We hope to see you again next year!

If you missed us in Washington, why not join us at the CIPD Festival of Work 2019, on June 12 and 13 at Olympia in London? It’s actually three events in one: the Learning and Development show, the HR Software and Recruitment show, and the new Future of Work show. Come to meet us, and discover why so many organizations use Mind Tools to engage their people in learning that works!



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