In The Know with Axonify

Agree to Disagree! The Essentials of Learning Experience Design w/ Cara North (The Learning Camel)

August 09, 2023 Axonify Season 5 Episode 33
Agree to Disagree! The Essentials of Learning Experience Design w/ Cara North (The Learning Camel)
In The Know with Axonify
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In The Know with Axonify
Agree to Disagree! The Essentials of Learning Experience Design w/ Cara North (The Learning Camel)
Aug 09, 2023 Season 5 Episode 33

We’re celebrating the release of Learning Experience Design Essentials, the new book from one of our favorite ITK guests, Cara North!

Cara’s gone from “accidental instructional designer” with Amazon to L&D director with Circulo Health to literally writing the book on modern learning design. Now she joins JD for a rousing game of Agree to Disagree! where they both share their takes on the hottest questions in L&D. 

In The Know is brought to you by Axonify, the proven frontline enablement solution that gives employees everything they need to learn, connect and get things done. With an industry-leading 83% engagement rate, Axonify is used by companies to deliver next-level CX, higher sales, improved workplace safety and lower turnover. To learn more about how Axonify enables over 3.5 million frontline workers in 160-plus countries, in over 250 companies including Lowe’s, Kroger, Walmart and Citizens Bank, visit

Show Notes Transcript

We’re celebrating the release of Learning Experience Design Essentials, the new book from one of our favorite ITK guests, Cara North!

Cara’s gone from “accidental instructional designer” with Amazon to L&D director with Circulo Health to literally writing the book on modern learning design. Now she joins JD for a rousing game of Agree to Disagree! where they both share their takes on the hottest questions in L&D. 

In The Know is brought to you by Axonify, the proven frontline enablement solution that gives employees everything they need to learn, connect and get things done. With an industry-leading 83% engagement rate, Axonify is used by companies to deliver next-level CX, higher sales, improved workplace safety and lower turnover. To learn more about how Axonify enables over 3.5 million frontline workers in 160-plus countries, in over 250 companies including Lowe’s, Kroger, Walmart and Citizens Bank, visit

JD Dillon (00:04):

Hello friends, how are you today? It's great to see you and welcome to the 33rd episode of In the Know Your 25 Minute Deep Dive into the Modern Employee Experience and what we can do to make it better. I'm JD from Axonify and today's episode, it's a celebration and an argument, and I know you wouldn't think those two things would go together, but then again, you haven't been to my family holiday parties. Today I'm gonna debate the biggest topics in learning and development with one of our favourite ITK guests. In fact, she's one of only two people to appear on the show three times, and the other one is Karl Kapp. But this is the first time that she's appearing on the show as a published author. That's right. Cara North is here to discuss her new book, Learning Experience Design Essentials, and face off in a spicy Game of Agree to Disagree. But before we welcome our special ITK guest, I wanna tell you about the hottest event coming up this fall. And no, it's not a Taylor Swift concert and it's not even The Boy Meets World podcast, which is a real show that I'm going to in Orlando next month. Instead, it's the Return of AxoniCom  this October in Nashville, Tennessee Producer Sam, play the clip.


You can head over to right now to grab the hottest ticket in frontline enablement this fall. And there's also still plenty of time left to submit your AxoniCom Awards entries. We're gonna be celebrating our customers incredible accomplishments from the past year on our main stage in Nashville. So this is an opportunity for you to share how you're using Axonify to enable your frontline team. Maybe pick up an award or two. I get that fuzzy feeling that comes from celebrating your success with your peers. So if you're an Axonify customer, you have until August 31st to submit entries for four awards, that's global transformation, best communications and engagement, best custom coaches and Frontline champion. Get all the details now at and hopefully I'll be handing you a trophy in Nashville this October. Now it's time to welcome our ITK guest, Cara North. Cara started as an accidental learning and development professional. She's worked in corporate higher education and consulting with organisations like Amazon, the Ohio State University CX and Circular Health Care is the owner of the Learning Camel, a learning and development consulting agency, and facilitates online courses for the Association for Talent Development. Her new book, learning Experience Design Essentials explores how you can blend content and context to elevate your learning experiences. And it's currently ranked 20,014 spots higher than my book on Amazon, and I'm totally not bitter. Cara North, you're In the Know.

Cara North (03:44):

Sorry, but thanks. I'm really excited to be here. I think we're gonna have a pretty, pretty fun conversation and I promise some spice and I'm gonna deliver some spice. The people have spoken, so I'm really, really excited. Yeah,

JD Dillon (03:59):

The words have been said, the words have been said, and it's, it clearly, I'm not constantly tracking where my book ranks on Amazon, but again, congrats on your book and inquiring minds. I, I know people want to know what is a learning camel?

Cara North (04:14):

It's a great question. So I am an animal lover. I love almost every animal except one in particular that slithers, which we won't, won't talk about. But I actually am a huge cat person and I initially wanted to have some kind of nod to cat in my business name. But then I got to thinking about it and I said, you know what, dog people spend money too. And if it was something with cats, it would be extremely polarising. So I've always loved camels as well. And so when I was thinking about camels, I was like, you know, it kind of evokes this thing of a, of a journey that people go through and isn't that what good learning is? It's a journey that people go through. So I decided to kind of go on in and name it learning camel. I wanted like a little cartoony kind of icon for my business too, and I thought it would lend itself well to that. And then after I named the company that, uh, some people reached out to me and said, oh, you named it that 'cause you help people get over the hump. And I said, I wish I would've thought of that, but I didn't. So thank you <laugh>, but I do not take credit for that. I didn't come up with that.

JD Dillon (05:16):

The crowd always comes up with the best ideas. Yes. So, um, it's, in my case, it took me a few years to decide to finally write a book and figure out what the topic was gonna be. So why this book and why now for you

Cara North (05:28):

So I think that, you know, there's been a lot of change, obviously in broader learning and development, especially in the last few years. And one thing that I've kind of taken pride in in my own journey and ways that I provide help to people is I really have a soft spot for people that are finding this work for the first time. Whether you're a transitioning educator or you kind of stumble into it, I really identify with a camel being accidental instructional. But one thing that I think was really missing from uh, content being out there is there's a lot of talk around adding, there's a lot of talk about, you know, theory and, and, and all this stuff. And if you were to read that kind of cover to cover, it just makes it seem so simple and effortless and, and at least in my experience, JD I'm sure you have some stories to tell as well, it, doing this work is anything but, um, there's a lot of hurdles and obstacles to go through. So I wanted to provide a perspective of boots on the ground, how can you get from A to Z when you get a training request all the way to pushing the product out. And I wanted a more practical hands-on, um, you know, kind of journey through that. And I didn't see a lot of that being talked in the market. And so that's why this book, and that's why now

JD Dillon (06:46):

I'm definitely a fan of the practical as, or I'm also a fan of, uh, potentially my favourite quote in the book is the fact that we are not in the underpants business. That might be the one of the best lines in the book. So of course we want as many people as possible to give the book a read. So we're gonna do our part by giving a few copies away to our live viewers. So if you're with us right now on LinkedIn Live and you like your very own copy of Learning Experience Design Wssentials, type the keyword camel into the LinkedIn chat, we'll select a few names before the end of the show, and then we'll reach out to you on LinkedIn after the show to get your details. So grab a copy of the book now with the keyword camel. So writing a book of course can be a vanity project for some, but most people are trying to help their readers solve a problem they think is particularly critical and particularly timely. So I'm curious to get your perspective on what do you think the biggest challenge facing l and d is right now?

Cara North (07:38):

Biggest challenge I think is, uh, being true to oneself. I think that so often we are being brought these, I'll say, uh, guided, I don't know, project, so to speak, where the stakeholder already has their mind made up. I want x, I want a video, I want an e-learning, I want instructor led training. And I think that one of the biggest problems that is facing us is, you know, changing the mindset and the kind of that change management perspective of, hey, let's not just go ahead and jump to the solution, but how about we ideate? What's the true problem and how are we trying to solve it? Um, I think that especially newer, um, instructional design professionals, uh, fall into that trap a lot. And so I think that that's a big, big issue because it is a slippery slope. And I know that we're, you know, maybe you wanna talk about order takers here in a minute, but it's a very slippery slope and I think that it sets a dangerous precedent if we just say, Hey, let's just go ahead and jump to the solution without really ideating the problem. And I think that's something that we definitely own and we should be part of that in our work.

JD Dillon (08:45):

So along the lines of being, of being true to yourself, that's a great segue into our game for today, which is Agree to Disagree.


Catchy theme song. Cara and I are gonna debate some of the biggest questions in the learning and development profession. So you may have seen this game played on YouTube with celebrities like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt did it recently. And it's no coincidence that people actually call me the Matt Damon of Learning and Development. So our game board, as you can see, features two lovely faces plus four response options. We've got Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Our announcer is gonna read a statement about workplace learning, then Cara and I will move our faces on the board to the spot that matches our response. And then we have to defend our position for a minute or so in each conversation. Of course, there's no winner in this particular game. The winner is professional discourse because, you know, we really need some healthy spirited informed debate in the world. That's what we're gonna do right here. And you can also play if you're watching at home live on LinkedIn right now. So share your level of agreement or disagreement in, uh, the chat for each statement or just feel free to scream it out loud. 'cause I'm sure your coworkers in the office or maybe your cats they won't mind, they'll be excited by the game as well. So, Cara, are you ready to agree or disagree?

Cara North (10:03):

Let's do it.

JD Dillon (10:05):

Alright, let's dive in. Our first statement, please, announcer

AI  (10:09):

Learning is science, not art. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (10:17):

Ooh, we're, we're agreeing out the gate. So we both said agree to that statement. Cara, why did you agree that learning is science not art?

Cara North (10:25):

Yeah, so if you go to the kind of fundamental backgrounds of, you know, neuroscience and cognitive psychology and all that, there are a lot of scientific pieces of it, but I'm not gonna get way, kind of in the minutia of really, if you think about the learning process, I like to equate it back to the scientific method of like, you have something you wanna figure out. Uh, you know, failure and trying is a big part of the learning process that I often don't think give enough love and respect, and especially in organisational workplace, um, solutions. So I definitely think that there is a science to it. Uh, Clark Quinn has an incredible book about this that I recently bought and devoured and highly recommend that not sponsored, but it's, it's a really nice, uh, deep dive into it. But, um, if you, one thing about it from an art, I mean, I guess if I were playing a little bit of devil's advocate, like yeah, I think there's some kind of an expression in the learning process. So, um, you know, I think you could kind of go either way, but I think fundamentally yes, learning is a science, not an art,

JD Dillon (11:28):

Uh, with you. So this might not be a very spicy game after all, but  I also go to the place of kind of focusing on the word itself because the, the concept of learning is an internal personal process of acquiring and retaining knowledge and skill, right? So it's the art side or the creativity side of what we do is not the learning itself, it's how we help facilitate that, or it's how we help deliver a message or find new ways to engage people. So there is, there's a creative element to any work, including the work that we do in learning and development, but it’s all wrapped around exactly what you said and the fact that we're talking about the science of knowledge retention and everything has to be born from there. If we miss that part, uh, we don't have the desired impact and don't see the behaviour chains we're looking for. So, great debate so far with complete and total agreement. Let's head to our second statement please. Announcer,

AI  (12:20):

Learning experience design and instructional design are the same thing. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (12:31):

All right. All right. This is where it's gonna get a little spicy. I strongly agreed with that statement. You disagreed. I strongly agreed because of the fact that I think we have poorly defined what instructional design is. So I think we have a challenge with the fact that if you look at job descriptions for instructional designers across different companies, you see wildly different expectations and requirements in terms of some people to build content. Some people are more business partner oriented, identifying problems, doing needs analysis. Some people design the solution, but don't build the output. Some people facilitate. So the fact that it's all over the map, I, I struggle with the idea that we're going to better define a new title versus maybe are we just, we have a tendency in l and d to change the words, but not change what we actually do and how we approach solving problems. So for the moment, I'm gonna strongly agree that I think it's a bit more wordsmithing than it is meaningful change. Cara, you disagreed. Where do you stand?

Cara North (13:32):

But it's funny because what you just said is actually the reason that I disagree. So if you wanna go to the canonical like instructional design definition, like back when instructional systems design was made in like the forties and fifties, and it came from kind of this military inspired background, you know, really focused on this designing of the systematic, um, instruction, right? And so I'm with you and I think that it is poorly defined and it has evolved. And through that evolution, that is why I fundamentally disagree than instructional design and learning and experience design, um, are different because, um, or excuse me, are not the same thing. Because when I think of instructional design, my mind immediately goes back to that kind of rank and file order of creating this content. And oh, by the way, it was before these beautiful things that we're chatting on right now called computers and the internet and, and all of that.


So I do think that learning experience design, I will say is an evolution of instructional design, but I would not say, when I think of instructional design, immediately my mind goes back to that, that kind of core definition of when this was kind of ideated back in the forties and fifties. And I have a really, really great, uh, resource if people wanna dive in a little bit deeper. There's a chapter by Michael Melinda on the origins of instructional design. I think you can find it on Google Scholar, but I highly recommend reading that through and I'd love to know your thoughts on it as you go through. 'cause you will see how this, there's kind of in this evolution of we've taken pieces from all these different places, right? Of educational psychology, of kind of audio visual communication. We've taken kind of all these pieces and I do think that modern learning design is so different than kind of the OG way of rank and file. That's why I disagree. JD,

JD Dillon (15:27):

Do you think, is it an evolution in terms of replacement? So we're going from instructional design to learning experience design, or are they coexisting concepts?

Cara North (15:37):

Oh, a great question. I totally think they're coexisting, right? So I think because we haven't really updated that definition and it's been kind of this evolution, and I love what you said about the job descriptions. Find me 10 job descriptions that define this the same way. You're not gonna find it right the way the jobs are operationalized and the things that people do in the day-to-day, it makes it a little bit more difficult. But in, in this book, um, I really didn't want to be the person to put the flag down and say, this is the definition of learning experience design. I actually, uh, kind of skirted around it a little bit and I flirt with the idea of a definition. But really for me, learning experience design is the combination of the content and the context. When I think of pure instructional design, I think of the content and content only. When I think of learning experience design, I think about the content plus the contexts, the modalities, the ongoing pieces to make sure people are being masters and, and growing in their own capacity. So that's why I, I, I think the way that I do <laugh>.

JD Dillon (16:40):

Gotcha. I'm with you there. Let's head to next statement, statement number three. Narrator, if you please,

AI  (16:45):

You must work in that specific industry to do l and d in that industry. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (16:55):

All right. I strongly disagree with this statement so much. I almost threw my face off the screen. Uh, you are in the same place. Strongly disagree. Why, why did you uh, strongly disagree?

Cara North (17:05):

Honestly, I think that's the biggest superpower of any learning development professional is not having the, I'll say institutional knowledge and, and that, that in depth of doing the job every day. Because when you go into these situations when you're developing training solutions, you're going to be able to ask questions that people that's been there 3, 5, 10 years doing the job, they would get a side eye if you ask those questions. And so you're bringing a fresh perspective. And I do think that is the superpower that we bring into this space. Is it great to have relationships with, uh, SMEs that can kind of fill those gaps and everything? Absolutely. And I think that's critical. But no matter your industry, I mean, my goodness, I've been in the semiconductor industry, which I couldn't manufacture that I've been in, you know, multiple different industries, healthcare and things like that where I have not been on those front lines, have mad respect for people that do. But I do think that it is a great perspective that we bring kind of that, you know, almost kind of that journalistic, um, unbiased, uh, perspective that we can bring into that to help, uh, solve the issues and, and really bring out, um, I'd say the best in the content.

JD Dillon (18:14):

And it definitely helps avoid ‘this is how we always did it here’ situation when I don't in any way know that this is how we always did it here. So I can ask questions and probe in different ways than maybe if you've been locked into a space for an extended period of time. That said, like, like you, uh, also referenced, there can be benefits to having experience in the space, to having credibility when you walk into conversations. Just, just knowing the language in some ways. And, but I even look at it as it's less about the industry itself and saying, well, because, um, I did work in food service, but let's say I didn't work in food service. I can't train people in food service, but the idea that I've done similar kinds of work or worked in a similar environment and have an understanding of what doing this type of job is like even if I haven't done this type of job.


So for me personally, I constantly come back to the fact that because I was operational management, my lens is very different than some learning and development professionals because I come at it from the operator's perspective and then back into the learning and development person's perspective versus coming at things, thinking about learning first. So I think just for me, that's been helpful, um, but I think I've been able to apply it more broadly than just the specific industries that I've worked within. So, great comments. Great non argument. Once again. Heading to our next statement, this might be the most contentious moment of the episode, so hopefully everyone's ready for this one again, yell out your answers, drop them in the chat. Here's our next statement, statement number four,

AI  (19:41):

A hot dog is a sandwich. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (19:48):

All right, we are on the opposite ends. When it comes to the status of hot dogs, I strongly agree that they are sandwiches. Cara, you said they are not sandwiches. My argument is simple. It is substance between bread regardless of where the opening in that bread is. Why is that not a sandwich carrier? Your thoughts?

Cara North (20:09):

'cause it's a taco.

JD Dillon (20:12):

How do we define taco?

Cara North (20:15):

Something with the shape of it's got a shell with meat in the middle, so it's a taco.

JD Dillon (20:21):

But see for me the argument falls apart because that is, that's a taco shell that is not a literal piece of bread. There's

Cara North (20:28):

A tortilla. Now though it doesn't have to be a shell, it can be soft, I'm just saying. 

JD Dillon (20:32):

If I took the hot dog bun and I just sliced it in half, so it's just a top and a bottom, which is fundamentally challenging from an eating perspective. But if I did that and then I just put something else there. Sandwich, right? I put peanut butter and jelly in on a hotdog bun. Is that not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Cara North (20:52):

But then why would the subway not serve hotdog then JD? 'cause they are the sandwich artists. So why do they not have hot dogs?

JD Dillon (20:59):

I think they just haven't seen that business opportunity yet. And if anyone here is from Subway, uh, I would expect residuals when you release theSubway hotdog line of options, I would, I would consider a hotdog at a Subway. But again, in the chat, let us know. Is a hotdog a sandwich? I think so. Cara disagrees. But let's head on to our next statement, something a little bit more relevant to the learning and development conversation and Cara's book today. Uh, narrator if you will,

AI  (21:26):

You need formal training to be an effective learning experience. Designer 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (21:36):

Alright, I disagreed that you need training to be an effective learning experience designer. You strongly disagreed. Why did you strongly disagree?

Cara North (21:43):

Well, I am formally educated in this and I do also adjunct in a higher education programme. So this is a little bit spicy. And they'd be like, well why are you not eating your own dog food, Cara? But the reason why I strongly disagree is people's backgrounds are so individualised that I think that it's really dangerous to make a blanket statement that someone needs to be formally educated in anything. I think there are some of the most gifted learning development professionals that I know that do not have formal degrees in this at all. And I think that, you know, your own kind of informal learning and your own upskilling is a journey that you take on its own. But I don't feel like you need that piece of paper to prove to me that you're effective learning and development professional. The only caveat to that is if you do apply for roles in higher education, a lot of times they do require that formal degree. But look what they're in the business of. Of course they want you to have what they're their pedal in as well. So that's why,

JD Dillon (22:41):

Uh, on same page as you, I have no formal education in this at all. I've never taken a course in learning and development with the exception of I did take a class in my master's program. I have an MBA in training and development. And I had to sit there with my mouth shut for most of the time to try to not just correct 'cause I would've just gone off. Um, given what I knew versus what was being taught in the class. I tried to nudge, but I didn't want to correct the professor all of the time. So for me, I, I disagree just because I do respect and I see value in educational programmes. As long as they're preparing you with the right skills, they're gonna help you do this job and solve problems when it comes to knowledge and performance in the workplace. And they don't maybe go down the myth road, which I know we sometimes can, can get bogged down with when it comes to learning and development. So similar page, slightly different opinions. Let's head to our next statement, narrator, please.

AI  (23:32):

Hybrid learning is a real thing. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (23:40):

Oh, we both strongly disagreed. I did not see that coming. So I  strongly disagree. Hybrid learning is a real thing because I don't think, I don't think hybrid is a real thing. So for me, there are people who are sitting in a place doing a thing, whether that's work in a meeting, collaborating, experiencing some type of training activity. And then there are people who are remote, people are not in the physical place who are dialing in, in some fashion from somewhere else. And I think it becomes dangerous to use the term hybrid because I think sometimes you then someone gets cheated. Either everyone doesn't get the right experience, it really fits their needs or maybe we lean in one direction and someone else gets cheated in that regard. And I've been a remote employee for more than decade now, and there have been many a time where I feel like I'm a security camera on a wall versus a meaningful participant in an activity. So I think there are two experiences we have to design for versus trying to split the difference. What are your thoughts, Cara?

Cara North (24:34):

Yeah, completely agree. Especially I think it's really unfair when on the flip side, if you're the one facilitating that you have to do the in person plus try to talk to the security cameras on the wall, so to speak. 'cause so often they're not given the tools to be successful, such as a producer such as a system or something in place to kind of get everyone on the same page. So yeah, I completely disagree. I think of it more as a, uh, poor modality. And I think the people that kind of buy into that are the same people that are trying to make return to office happen. Oh, there's just some spice.

JD Dillon (25:08):

I once facilitated an an orientation programme where most people were in the room, but two people were on the phone. And I just, I struggle with why that's even remotely fair or permissible given that, you know, the experience was so widely different. But we call it hybrid and think that's a plan. So with you there, all right, let's head on to our next statement as we start to round out our agree to disagree game.

AI  (25:29):

You must learn how to use certain software to be a learning experience. Designer 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (25:38):

All right, I agreed you strongly disagreed. What's, uh, why do you not think certain software is required?

Cara North (25:47):

Because I think people skip the content before getting to the tool. I think there's this orientation of I need to know all the tools first. Like, I'm good on the content, but it's been my experience. Some of the, I'll say, uh, things that I see people share that they're building, working out loud, which I think is wonderful. The content is dry, it's boring, it's et cetera. So I think that, you know, TGI said it and I think I quoted my book that engagement's in the Mind and not the Mouse. So I think it's really important that we focus on the content and I do think people can specialize still in just the content. I still think that there's a space for people in l and d to just do content development work. Um, but you know, do you want to eventually maybe get some of these software? Sure, maybe. But I don't think that it's a hundred percent necessary. There are still these, uh, folks that are called e-learning developers out there that will gladly hop on a contract and, uh, build whatever you master plan, but you don't need software to master plan, in my opinion.

JD Dillon (26:49):

I agree with everything you said. I only agree with the statement because I believe there's a mistaken set of expectations out there that lean people in this direction. So I think in a lot of cases we even in job descriptions might be looking for the wrong types of things, requiring people to have certain technical competency and not focus on the other skills that are much harder to teach. I'd rather get someone who's a great problem solver and someone who asks great questions and collaborates effectively and builds champions out there and teach them how to use a piece of software versus someone who's really good with a development tool and then try to figure out how do we effectively solve problems using that tool. So I I, for me, it's an expectation challenge, less a technical requirement. All right, we've got two more to go. Two more to go running short on time today. Let's head to our next statement.

AI  (27:34):

L&D can escape being order takers. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (27:42):

All right, we both agreed we can escape being order takers in L&D. How do we get there? Cara?

Cara North (27:48):

I think it, it's hard. I think it depends on kind of composition of your team, uh, where you sit in the business. I do think that often the onus of this actually falls onto l and d leadership. Uh, 'cause I think an individual contributor can only do so much if their leadership isn't aligned. So if you have good leadership that helps blaze you down this path, I think that you can do it. But if you don't have leadership aligned with that, you're gonna have a bad time.

JD Dillon (28:14):

Absolutely. So it, it's a hundred percent possible. I've seen it done, but I also know it takes time. So it's not an overnight shift. It's not something we can just change the name of our department and suddenly be perceived differently because people bring baggage to conversations with learning and development because they have experiences when it comes to education and previous training departments that they've worked with. So it's something we have to work and influence the path towards, but we can definitely get there. Last statement to wrap up the game,

AI  (28:44):

AI will reduce the number of learning designers and developers. 3, 2, 1.

JD Dillon (28:53):

All right, Cara, your, your face almost flew off the game board. What are your thoughts on the impact of AI on learning experience design?

Cara North (29:00):

Yeah, so I think here's, here's again, probably a little bit of spice. There are so many people in this space that focus on just pure content, and I feel like that is very dangerous. I feel like that is an extremely transactional lens to approach this work through. So if you're only about, uh, I don't know, making PowerPoints, building e-learning, et cetera, and can't kind of evolve and, uh, do more aspects of the job, then yeah, you're going to be replaced quickly in, in my mind,

JD Dillon (29:31):

I believe AI and technology in general takes care of the unremarkable side of work. So if your job, and this is true of me, in the beginning of my l and d career, I was doing a lot of templated work, right? Fill in the template with words provided by a subject matter expert. A machine can do that right now. A machine can write really good multiple choice and assessment questions right now. So I think it's, it's important for everyone to take a look at their workflow, the tasks that they complete, and not only ask can a machine do this type of work, but should we be doing this type of work at all in a world where technology's changing and our relationship with technology is changing, uh, through the evolution of ai. But I think there's, there's an unavoidable reality to the fact that certain work will be taken care of differently.


And just as an example, our narrator today was provided by AI as opposed to what I would traditionally do, which is run through a recording session, which would take hours between me and another individual to get those components of the show together. In this case, AI helped me put together our narrator for the day in five minutes or less. So I think that's a reality that we all have to face and that is also a wrap on agree to disagree. But Cara, before you head out, one more question for you. Curious, what's the biggest thing that you learned through the process of writing your book?

Cara North (30:38):

That imposter syndrome will always be a factor in my professional life. Uh, it was definitely, I think the hardest thing that I ever did. The version that you all are reading was actually the third version of my book, because the first two were just not where I needed them to be. So, um, it's a very iterative, humbling process. But, you know, luckily had some good editorial help from the kind folks at a t d to get through to get over the hump. 

JD Dillon (31:09):

Way to bring it back around. And I also agree with you yet again, um, especially because without I learned about the importance of editing and having another voice come into the conversation. 'cause otherwise there would be a five-page rant about Wile E Coyote in my book instead of a two-page rant. So I, I thank Jack at ATD very much for that. And I also thank you Cara North for joining us again on the show. Where can people go to connect with you, learn more about the work you're doing and grab a copy of your book?

Cara North (31:34):

Sure. So my book is available through ATDs website,, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. You can connect with me on LinkedIn /CaraNorth11. My company's website is So looking forward to chatting with you more about stuff.

JD Dillon (31:50):

Awesome. Thank you again so much to Cara North for sharing her insights and into the biggest questions facing learning and development. If you had a good time today, be sure to subscribe to ITK. Head over to for show announcements and reminders. You can also check out the entire ITK collection on the Axonify YouTube channel or listen to in the know on your favourite podcast app. And join us back here in two weeks when we ask the age old question, how much technology does one company really need? Rachel Horowitz, owner of the Learning Culture Partners, former L&D director at Mars, and longtime ITK fan, will be in the digital studio to share her tips on getting the maximum value and impact from your learning tech investment. If your CTO is pushing you to consolidate your tech stack and reduce your spend, this episode is for you. So come hang out on Wednesday, August 23rd at 11:30 AM Eastern for a discussion on learning tech strategy with Rachel Horowitz. Until then, I've been JD, now you're In the Know. And always remember to ask yourself the important questions like, what did the author say when he accidentally glued himself to his book? That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'll see you next time.


In The Know is produced by Sam Trieu.  Visual designed by Mark Anderson. Additional production support by RIchia McCutcheon, Andrea Miller, Maliyah Bernard and Meaghan Kay. The show is written and hosted by JD Dillon. ITK is an Axonify production. For more information on how Axonify helps frontline workers learn, connect, and get things done, visit