Shake things up a little …

Hi, I’m Jonathan Halls.

I’m a business author and consultant who helps people and organizations grow more agile and innovative through intentional training and talent development strategies and tactics.  I help both managers and supervisors who have nothing to do with traditional training develop their teams, as well as support my peers in training and talent departments re-imagine their work.

Let’s be honest.  A lot of people don’t think much of training or talent development.  Maybe that’s why so many training departments are shrinking.  My guess is that the folks who cut the funding haven’t seen talent and training done well.  It’s a shame because when it is:

  • organizationally/project focused,
  • delivered professionally,
  • intentionally happening both inside and beyond the classroom,
  • facilitated both digitally/virtually and in-person, and
  • designed following proven methods from learning science …

… it can be amazing.  Learning and talent functions have the potential to powerfully transforms people who transform organizations.

The Journey

Drawing on close to 30 years experience in talent development and professional media, forged across 25 countries, I help talent leaders use talent development strategies to build agile work cultures to spur innovation via these organizations’ number one strength: their people.

The challenge many face is change.  So much is changing in the way organizations run, technology is used and what people expect.  It’s hard to know what’s the best way to do talent and training.  That idea you just saw in Inc. Magazine, for example … is it truly transformative or just the next fad?  Knowing what won’t change and what does need to change is critical.

Me and Buzzwords Don’t Get Along

Some folks will tell you I’m unconventional.  A talent provocateur. Probably because I challenge much of the status quo. I’m skeptical of fads.  And I can’t stand buzzwords, unless I make ‘em up.  LOL.  If you scroll down, you can read how I clash with some of the prevailing ideas in today’s business environment that I think are out of date.  (You might find you clash with them too.)

I deeply believe that the future is yours for the taking.  Even amidst the uncertainty that COVID 19 has wrought on just about every country.   Your success comes down to mindset, gritty work and humility.  Humans have an incredible capacity to learn – they just have to take that first step.

When we put learning at the heart of business, powerful things can happen.  But learning is more than some wishy washy word that people nod their head to.  As such, I use what I call the learning mechanics formula, the learning ecology model, and the talent continuum to help make sense of the future.  You can read about them in other pages on this website.

30 Years Experience

I’ve worked for 30 years in 25 countries.  At all levels. Leading change initiatives, doing skills development, speaking at conferences.

My two favorite jobs were media gigs.  In the early nineties, on a little known radio station in Australia, I hosted a current affairs radio talk show.  We had a lot of fun and my team broke loads of news.

During that time, I found myself running workshops for broadcasters on presentation skills, script writing, and interviewing. That’s when I went and studied for my bachelors in adult learning.

Learning from the Best

My other favorite job was heading up the BBC’s TV Training, the most prestigious media training organization in the world. 250 of the world’s most creative broadcast trainers.  It was a privilege.

What made it an incredible experience was the people I worked with. How often do you get to work with the world’s best? I learned a lot from them and they made me look good.

The Last Decade

My first 20 years in talent development was exclusively with media organizations.  A lot of it was workforce skills development and change management in digital transformations.  For the past decade, I have branched out and now work with just about every industry.  From retail to banking to manufacturing to government and non-profit.

I’ve worked with people from DOD, State Department, Sunrun, Ellie Mae, Charles Schwab, Air Force, Coast Guard, Verizon, Sprint, Blue Cross Blue Shield, ATD, APA, McKesson, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Strait Times, New Strait Times, Times of India, WAN IFRA, and many more.

Current Focus: Talent Development to Support Agility and Innovation

Today my work involves helping training and HR leaders develop strategies to enable the development and nurturing of an agile and innovative workforce.  I partner with my clients to help them align evidence-based talent strategies to business results, so we can show the world how talent development unleashes people potential and transforms organizations.

I partner with clients to do coaching, strategy and tactical consulting, in-person workshops on learning science and digital content production.  I also help learning professionals develop intentional strategies and systems to influence the talent continuum and learning ecosystem.  (Sorry for the buzzwords …) That includes helping managers outside the traditional training department or talent function unleash the potential of their teams by developing their teams’ skills.

5 Books and Hundreds of Articles

Back in 2020 ATD asked me to write a book on video for trainers.  The first book on video for our industry we called it, Rapid Video for Trainers.  It was a big success and has been used by organizations from Fortune 500 companies to small banks to government agencies to adopt video into their training strategies.

So, I wrote a second book – Rapid Media for Trainers.  It did well, too. So, I wrote one on video script writing and one on Memory and Cognition for Learning.

Jonathan Halls keynoteBut my all-time favorite book came out in 2019.  Launched at the Mimeo headquarters in New York, it’s called Confessions of a Corporate Trainer: An Insider Tells All.  I poke fun at our industry and celebrate what we do.

I’m always working on another one.  Two you might see soon.  A pocket guide on virtual skills for trainers – based on the free webinar series I’m hosting.  And a pocket guide to learning science for trainers and talent professionals.

Where We’re Getting It Wrong

OK, if you scrolled down to find out how I clash with prevailing ideas in training and talent development for today. Here are five of them.  Read article on this site and you’ll learn more.

First, a lot of people think a good trainer is someone who does slick slidecks and has polished presentation skills.  Kinda like a mini-keynote speaker.  Wrong.  Good trainers are almost invisible.  And their value isn’t in platform skills, but in how they help learners build skills.

Second, in today’s fast changing world, training is not a classroom activity. More important learning happens outside the classroom. And in tomorrow’s world that’s where the good trainers will focus.  It doesn’t mean they ditch the classroom – just they see it’s role in the bigger picture.

Jonathan Halls Keynote Core 4 AnnaheimThird, our biggest strength in this industry is our biggest weakness.  That is trainers very often come in from the front line as subject matter experts. They know what they teach, inside out.  But, they often are not given training in how to help people learn.  This causes lots of problems.  We tell business to spend money on training but won’t spend it on our people.  What gives?

Fourth, I think our profession is run on myths and superstitions. We’ve all heard of learning styles and how there’s little evidence they work.  But so many people practice them.  If we as a profession are to have any credibility, we have to base our practice on learning science.  All my train the trainers are based on learning science.

Jonathan Halls keynote New OrleansFifth, I don’t like the word training delivery because I think it’s impossible to deliver learning.  Think about it – do we copy and paste knowledge from our heads into learners’ heads?  Impossible!  At least that’s what the science says.  We help people build their knowledge and skills. Unfortunately it reminds us that we’re not as important in this process as the learner is.