Lesson from Edutech Australia? Planned Failure.

Okay, I’m late.

I was at Edutech last week, in glorious Brisbane Australia.

brisbane at dark
Sunset on the Brisbane River

It was a real privilege to have been asked. I had the opportunity to share stories, thoughts and ideas with some people in my network who I have long admired (Harold Jarche, Ryan Tracey, Simon Terry, Michelle Ocker) and met some new FABULOUS people along the way (Constantine Ongarezos, Mairi Thompson, Joyce Seitzinger just to name a few!)

As I thought about how to frame this recap, I knew there were some recaps already out there (quick thinkers!). Therefore, I really wanted to see what “stuck” with me. When I closed my eyes and thought back to the two days I was there, which message was still with me? Over and over again, I come back to the same person. Alec Couros.

But before I get to Alec… 

Harold Jarche: I love his take “If your job can be explained with a flow chart, it can be automated.” Step aside for L&D software (Wait? What? We have some already??). It is true – our positions should ebb and flow shifting with the times with the needs of people around us. How doing so affects the idea of digital networks within the “tetrad of the network”Simply fascinating along with the fact that innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive, but we do need need to be at the cutting edge of our profession to be a catalyst in learning and knowledge management.

tetrad network Harold Jarche

Marigo Raftopoulos (@marigo) who almost derailed the second day with talk about gamification, the audience almost didn’t let her off the stage. Her thoughts were nuanced and just plain made sense. Breaking down the different stages of gamification and the how/when to apply different design theories to each stage. Super informative and what was key – her discussion made sense to the audience. The key to gamification? Create learning experiences that make people FEEL something.

Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) – she commanded the stage with her thoughts on curation and not just theory, but application. We all know the adage “Find, disseminate, share”. Share thoughtfully and don’t hoard. To people who are new to the curation game and even some us who have been around the block a time or two, this was a very helpful presentation. Clearly breaking down what tools to use for your individual goals, getting down to the what and how, all complete with shareable links. Not links that I had to go to her website, search and discover – but there on the screen for people to access.  Just in time learning. Too often we tell the audience to go to this site or that site and download the “application of the moment”. She was extremely helpful and quite engaging. Here is the slideshare of her presentation.  (You may have also caught a couple of her sketchnotes of my presentation on the Learning Rebels Facebook page with the other pictures from the this conference.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the wealth of heavy hitting learning professionals. It was great to hear the accomplishments from Michelle Ockers from Coca-Cola (You must go slow to go fast!) and Amy Sioux (Social learning can happen in large organizations!) from AT&T. They manage great teams and are doing inventive things in the workplace – this my friends, my fellow rebels, is the future of L&D.

But on the main event. Alec Couros.

Wow. I loved seeing the world through his eyes and through the eyes of the children he shared with us.  The message was simple…to me anyway. Plan to fail. If you go into a project with only a plan to succeed, does one do their best work? Are we limiting our minds? Children go into their daily life fully expecting to fail, anticipating plan “B”. Not even thinking about it as failure, it is just another step in the process. Another step in life.

Have we become unconsciously rigid as adults (perhaps even consciously) that free form thinking has become an impossibility? How can we move forward if we are too busy trying not to fail? We are fortunate enough to be in a media rich, highly connected world and as educators (or learning tour guides, or knowledge curators, or training name of the moment) we should be encouraging each other more to try, and try again.

Is L&D modeling the behavior we want to see as an industry? Are we encouraging and applauding failure within our ranks? Are we really helping each other get up, dust off and try again? Some are, some aren’t. New ideas should be taking on a life of their own inspired by the failure of other ideas. People fail, it’s how we deal with it, how we plan for it, which is the difference between success and true failure.

I leave you with this video Alec played during his presentation. He showed others, but I fell in love with this little person, so giddy and so very smart. Certainly smarter than I.

Audri’s Rube Goldberg Monster Trap.

This, in a nutshell, is what wowed me about Edutech Australia as a whole (#edutechAU) – I saw evidence of Alex’s message within the audience. As I sat back and listened to those around me, I heard – “Let me help you”, a lot. What was wonderful were the people who willingly gave up knowledge without the expectation of recompense. Help was abundant. Advice was generously given and graciously accepted.

Optimism abounds

Is there room to grow? Sure. As with any of us, in any place in the world, we are human and therefore there are still challenges that will keep us busy for the next decade.  Although, here I experienced a sense of optimism for our industry that has been lacking of late. Perhaps that is the failure we can all collectively learn from – we know there are continued challenges and we should continue to plan for them. Plan for the failures. Then allow ourselves to celebrate the successes, encourage the positive and promote growth and learning. Do we always have to be so cynical and pessimistic about the future of L&D? For some reason, as a learning industry, we have forgotten the joy of teaching and guiding each other. Let’s help each other with our failures, then be intently focused on supporting those failures and encouraging innovation and creativity within our own family.


You know you want one! New ebook, PRE-ORDER NOW!

Disruptive Learning

Foreword by Brent Schlenker

Final_distruptive Learning


Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

2 thoughts on “Lesson from Edutech Australia? Planned Failure.”

  1. Thanks for all your summaries Shannon. It nice to have them and feel like your part of the event even when you can’t be there.

    p.s. I like your thoughts on failure – i see helping to creating a space for it as an essential component in what we do.

    • Hi Kate – thanks for the comment. It was great being there, and I’m really glad the tweets and other posts brought you closer to the action. The people there were really kind, thoughtful and unafraid to push the envelope a bit! The piece by Alec Couros really did speak to me. Planning for failure is something that the audlt mind doesn’t process, took the little one in the video to really make me see it. So enlightening. Glad I could share it with you (and others). 🙂


Leave a Comment

Table of Contents

    Join the Rebellion!


    Cool tools for cool people! 😎

    After we confirm your email, you'll get our
    "Creative Problem-Solving Primer" #WhosYourBuddy

    (By signing up, you agree to receive emails from Learning Rebels, and while it would make us sad, you can opt-out at any time.)

    AWESOME! Welcome to the Rebellion. Now you will begin to receive great stuff from the mother ship. IMPORTANT! Be sure you have the LearningRebels.com address added to your contacts or moved to your primary folder so you don't miss a thing. It would be a tragedy for your Rebellion to end up in your spam folder, never to see the light of day.