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ATD Blog

Staying Future-Ready One Trend at a Time

Monday, June 27, 2022

How often are you surprised at other companies’ innovative actions to enhance employee performance, such as adopting emerging technologies to advance virtual connections? Implementing innovative solutions to solve current problems is becoming increasingly important to organizations. But how, you wonder, do they do this? Yes, the culture must promote and incorporate a growth mindset and provide opportunities, but how does a person or a team know what to focus on? How do you turn a tacit thought into a possibility of a solution?

Besides solving minor and major problems, another critical capability for learning professionals is being future-ready. Being future-ready requires intellectual curiosity and constant scanning of the environment for practices and processes. Rita McGrath states in her book, Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen, “…spotting inflection points to be ahead of the curve for business changes is all about seeing around the corner.” With continual technology disruptions, research, and innovations, there is a lot to keep up with in the learning space if we are to stay current and support the changing needs of our constituency. While some of these trends are just shiny objects, others are golden nuggets. Some trends are new, while others have just resurfaced with renewed focus.

How do you quickly and effectively address business challenges before they become major conundrums? How agile is your team with solving problems? We all have fleeting ideas. Once you or your team has an idea, is it shared in a meeting and then just flitters away into the ether? How do you intentionally conceptualize an idea into something that will resonate with others?

Enter the Concept Poster

The concept poster is a LUMA Institute design-thinking method used to concisely and visually convey the essence of a concept, idea, or point of view to gain support for more detailed design and implementation. A concept poster can serve as part of a business case to move an organization from its current state to a future state. It is a visual pitch story. The method graphically conveys a compelling point of view, and thus promotes a shared vision within a group. Additionally, it helps groups get buy-in from decision makers and provides a road map for moving forward.

A concept poster is a compelling graphic description that includes these components:

  • Title
  • Tagline
  • The goal or purpose (big WHY)
  • Audience or major stakeholders
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Proposed timeline with milestones

The goal of the concept poster is not to develop new ideas; the goal is to take a trend or an idea already in existence and put together a visual concept to help others “see” the possibilities. It distills a lot of information into its essence by using compelling graphics, numbers, and words. The primary rules for a concept poster include being self-explanatory and visual.

ATD22 conference attendees displaying concept poster developed during ATD Foum session.jpg


During ATD22 in Orlando, 120 learning professionals gathered at two different working sessions to move a current learning trend from an idea to a concept they could share with others. Collaborating in small groups of five, they discussed options, designed and developed a concept, visually (and creatively) depicted the concept as a poster, and shared their posters, all within 60 minutes.


Some of the titles and topics focused on including emerging technologies, metrics, and learning.

Emerging Technologies

  • Into the metaverse—Virtual reality
  • Titat Tik Talk—Micro videos for talent retention
  • Keeping learners engaged one dose at a time—Micro dosing
  • If we only knew what we all know—Knowledge sharing in the organization
  • Playful learning—Gaming


  • You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from—Data and analytics
  • Painting the full picture—Advanced metrics


  • Self-directed learning—Empowered learning
  • Instant help—Learning in the flow of work
  • Chat bots—Navigation tool for learning
  • One size doesn’t fit all—Hybrid blended learning
  • Individualized learning pathways—Personalized learning
  • You are here, and so is your learning—Learning in the flow of work
  • Changing the world one peer at a time—Peer-to-peer learning



“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a truism. The concept poster activity guides the group to converge on one topic and to quickly develop rough and ready concept prototypes. With this visual, it is much easier to socialize the concept and jump start a bright idea into a future practice. Like all design thinking, the process from challenge to solution is iterative.

There are various ways to move to the next step. During the ATD22 session, each small group shared their concept poster with another small group. Another action is to have others assess the concept poster and provide feedback. Still another way is having multiple small groups develop a concept post for the same trend, sharing them as a gallery wall and discussion, and using the best ideas that surface, a la a napkin pitch process.

The concept poster is a presentation format illustrating the main points for a new idea. It is a creative way to make tacit ideas explicit and therefore shareable. It helps groups get buy-in from decision makers and provides a road map for moving forward.

There is not a formal template as such, just the requirement to make the poster self-explanatory by including the primary components. It is a first step for a tacit brain blip to become an explicit and sharable concept, and the genesis for a new or updated process to enhance learning opportunities, thus building organizational capability.

How might you and your team move from an idea to a concept in 60 minutes?

About the Author

MJ leads the ATD Forum content arena and serves as the learning subject matter expert for the ATD communities of practice. As the leader of a consortium known as a “skunk works” for connecting, collaborating, and sharing learning, she worked with members to evolve the consortium into a lab environment for advancing the learning practice within the context of work, thus evolving the Forum’s work-learn lab concept. MJ is a skilled and experienced design and performance coach for work teams, as well as a seasoned designer of work-learn experiences with a focus on strategy and program management. She previously held leadership positions at the Defense Acquisition University, including senior instructor, special assistant to the commandant, and director of professional development.

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