What I learnt by not going to Cannes Lions 2016

Some say that Cannes is a party-zone with no substance. Some say it is the must-attend marketing event of the year. I beg to disagree. This year, I learned something substantial from not attending. And the biggest learning of all? How to make learning flourish – remotely, socially, emotionally, continuously.

This year, my colleague Karen marked the International Festival of Creativity, one of the largest gatherings of marketing, advertising and creative professionals in the world, by launching the Brand Learning Cannes Cinema. The London team were invited to watch together a selection of live-streamed sessions from keynote speakers. A nice idea I thought but my week was already looking full. I decided I would try and make it to a couple of the sessions if something else shifted in my calendar.

Over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I hadn’t managed to make it to any of the sessions. I overheard a few of the team discussing the sessions they had squeezed in; good for them.

Then something happened on Thursday morning. The conversation around the office was different. I kept hearing the word ‘inspirational’ being spoken about in pockets arounds the office. Three colleagues told me about Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever’s talk within the space of the next 10 minutes. “I to the power of N”. “Chief Macro Officer and Chief Micro Officer”. My colleagues have a great skill for finding the brilliant from the ordinary so I knew that 60 minutes watching this Cannes talk, was a learning investment that I had to make. Exhibiting symptoms of FOMO, I went to YouTube to catch up.

It turned out to be one of the most valuable hours of my working week. It helped me shift my thinking, I felt that I was growing, it made me feel that I could pass new perspectives forward to colleagues and clients who might also feel inspired.

Key reflections

Here is what I took away from the week when I didn’t go to Cannes Lions:

Learning must connect emotionally: In organisations today, learning gets traction when it drives different conversations, different thinking and different behaviours amongst the team. When learning emotionally connects, it propels people to talk about its value and its application.

The power of social learning: Even though I didn’t attend the ‘live’ session, the passion and excitement with which some of my colleagues were talking really encouraged me to go and learn for myself. Even though only a handful of the team saw the live session, the social learning meant that word travelled quickly around our offices and encouraged others, like me, to get involved.

It’s easier than you think to make time for continuous learning: People feel they have less and less time these days for learning so you need to provide support with right sized resources accessible through multiple devices. All it took was my colleague Karen’s innovative thinking to help us ‘squeeze in’ some micro moments of fresh learning; it didn’t cost anything but the value created was high.

We know that learning keeps us all growing – individually and as a company. We need to seek out new perspectives and share them with each other. It doesn’t have to be arduous. It’s about seizing the moment and being generous in sharing what we learn. These are 2 elements of creating learning cultures that thrive. Get in touch with anyone in the Brand Learning team, and we’ll be happy to share with you more ways we help learning live.

All Lions Live sessions will be available on YouTube until 10 July


BRAND LEARNINGInspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.