L&D and Intellectual Property

Today I went to a training forum arranged by the IPA where we discussed how to make Inductions long lasting and meaningful. There’s plenty of information on how to make inductions effective, and if you’re after a good source for this, you should get in touch with Sheridan Webb.

The presenter spoke about what they do as an agency to make their induction effective, and she declared right at the beginning that although she’s happy to share the information with the group, she wasn’t going to make it available after the session. And that’s been playing on my mind.

Much of what we do in learning and development is not specific to any business or industry. At the end of the day, leadership training, personal development and interpersonal skills are all skills which will need to be developed at various points of a persons career. And that’s part of the reason training companies have managed to do so well. They’ve been able to take a behavioural skill, develop some training around it, and offer it out as a service.

But, and this is the nub, to think that I have any claim on those training materials or methods is complete hogwash. Only a handful of organisations have successfully developed a tool which they can lay claim to. And, in most cases, these are occupational psychology consultancies. OPP, SHL, PCL, Senn Delaney are all names which those in this field will be familiar with. There are more, but this is such a small portion of the L&D field (in its broadest sense) that we really need to be mindful about what it is we’re laying claim to.

For the business I’m in, I’ve not developed a single thing I wouldn’t happily take and use for the next company I work with. And that’s because none of it is copyright. Not one piece. How I conduct my training needs analysis, my training design, my delivery method, and my evaluation is true of how any other L&Der carries out their role. So when a business says “I’m not going to share what we did because it’s specific to us”, that makes sense on the surface. But it’s rubbish.

The key insights that you draw are exactly because the context is important. If you’ve developed a leadership programme that is excellent, it’s excellent because of the business and the culture of the business. If you just give me the programme, I could take it and adapt it to any other business. Give me the context of why it worked so well for your business and I can then truly draw insight into why it was excellent. But – BUT – that is still nothing to lay claim to.

We live in a social world where information is flowing at a very fast pace and everyone is looking for information for free. This is no bad thing. Particularly for those of us in L&D. If I need to learn about how to develop a negotiation skills course, do I need to attend a course to accredit myself, and then go on and deliver it? No. Not because it’s not a valuable or worthwhile training course, but because the self-inflated sense of importance is nonsense.

What I know is valuable. For me to hold on to that is selfish and gains nothing. For me to share it builds social capital and encourages positive energy networking. The opportunists in this world will always see a way to make money from their knowledge they hold. The successful people in this world will see that sharing and being open with your knowledge creates and builds the kind of society and community which makes a difference.

I lay this challenge down to the likes of the Negotiation Skills experts, the Executive Coaches, the Presentation Gurus – share your knowledge beyond the boundaries of the contracts and training environments. Not just through blogging and the likes, but through true sharing. Make YouTube videos of your core materials, dedicate your websites to making all of your information free and available. Take away the perceived need for a license and be open about the use of your materials. Of course train people so they use them well, but don’t pretend without your product they won’t be successful.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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