I recently wrote about how L&D can be brilliant given the right type of thinking. Essentially I was saying that the role of the L&Der can be a true business enabler provided there is an understanding of how to do this. I want to develop this thinking, and give some more thoughts on why this may not be a mainstream set of activities. With many businesses and organisations espousing the need to take learning and development seriously, how can we, as a profession help businesses to see what their potential is?
I think part of the problem is those professionals who are indoctrinated into following the L&D cycle (needs analysis, development, delivery, evaluation) and following Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation to such an extent that they don’t see beyond these activities. For those up and coming in the role, this is a good place to start, and it’s what I would ensure any new person in the role is capable of doing as this is our bread and butter. The need, though, is when that stops being enough.
How do you know when this happens? When you believe success is based on activities like:
– “let’s create a calendar for the year”
– “let’s include elearning as part of the solution”
– “let’s create a new course on subject x”
– “let’s put a newsletter together”
I’m not having a dig, these are worthwhile activities, and they are certainly beneficial in many ways. What this kind of list does, though, it gives permission for the L&Der to just stop there. And then when they attend a conference, or seminar, and they want to implement the new style of thinking, there’s a moment of “I’m out of my depth here”. And we then carry on with the same. I’m guilty of this, and in no way am proclaiming I’ve got this nailed down. Take today for example, my main set of activities have been to send out evaluations on recent workshops. A day spent on admin? Ugh.
It’s when we take the time to think, discuss and debate that we start to see there are other possibilities. It’s when we stop reading the trade journals, and start concentrating on bigger events, that we see that there is more we can be and do. It’s when we start to engage in social media and networks that we start to see there is an absolute mountain of knowledge just waiting to be consumed that can make us better people. And through that we can deliver better insight, better solutions and better understanding of the world that we both work in and that we live in.
The tunnel vision that most L&Ders are burdened with is our biggest barrier. This is true of independent consultants who believe their product will change the world, and of the internal consultant who is blinkered to the possibilities that are out there. The twain can and do meet, just not often enough. Once more L&Ders start to see the potential of what their role can achieve, that’s when mainstream business and organisations will take notice.