Over coffee the other day, a one Rob Jones posed a question – what do I think is the overlap with OD and L&D? It’s one of those broader questions that raises it’s head as the workplace continues to evolve and relationships with departments become more entwined and create fuzziness. Like where does Internal Communications sit? Are they a Marketing function? Are they a Content Strategy function? Are they an OD function? Are they an HR function?
Well I guess the place to start in answering a question like this is to first define what do the two functions do. OD – organisational development – is about ensuring the organisation is doing a range of activities that help it run more efficiently. I think this looks like: having teams work together on achieving projects, creating a collaborative atmosphere where creation and innovation can happen, enabling people in the workplace to be successful by removing barriers to success, having a set of work practices that are meaningful to the business and don’t impede the success of the business.
L&D is about developing the skills of people in the workplace so they can be effective in their jobs. For me that means: apportioning budget to learning activities that make sense, creating plans that meet the needs of the organisation, creating a schedule of internal learning activities that people can engage with, producing responsive learning solutions that are not limited to face to face sessions, and finding ways to be effective business partners.
With the above in mind, we then find that we’re at that interesting fuzzy place I mentioned above, and a little closer to answering Rob’s question. Does L&D form part of OD activities? Yes. Does OD need to deliver using L&D resources? Sometimes, yes. The overlap happens because of the similar skillsets required for both roles. As experienced professionals, there are some common skills which are:
- the ability to listen, ask questions and really get to the heart of the matter
- the ability to develop solutions which meet the needs of the organisation
- the ability to deliver, facilitate and implement solutions in an array of organisational settings
- the ability to develop relationships with key people in the business to help you and them be successful
- the ability to encourage, motivate, coach and enthuse others into action for the organisation
Over my professional career, I’ve learned that where I’ve focused on providing L&D solutions, I’ve also ended up producing OD solutions. Where that’s happened it’s been more because of happen-stance as opposed to a deliberate action on my part. In recent times, I have actively sought to be involved in large scale projects which are more OD focused. And what I’ve come to realise is that although I may not have the full OD set of badges required, my L&D career and prior education in occupational psychology certainly provide me with a very strong portfolio of success.
What do you reckon, Rob, have I started to provide an answer?