Tunnel Vision

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.

Have I got you thinking about what this means for you in your role? Come discuss it further at the L&D Connect Unconference on 24 April. It’ll be an interesting debate and one I can only learn from.

Published by

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.

3 thoughts on “Tunnel Vision”

  1. “it’s when we take time to think, discuss and debate that we start to see that there are other possibilities”

    Exactly, well said. Which is why it is essential to have social and collaboration embedded within the organisation. Also, L&D cannot be the repsonsibility of a small number of professionals – an open and authentic collaborative infrastructure encourages everyone to be responsible for development and allows people to collaborate for their own benefit.

    Nice post!

  2. There’s something here Sukh about L&D’s interest and role as agents of change. Be it self-development, organisationally focussed or even broader still, the remit of L&D seems to have got stuck in the transactional, not the transformational. This transformational space is where L&D could play a much more significant role and perhaps is what organisations have been crying out for. This has got me thinking about whether L&D is willing to change? Looking forward to the debate!

  3. I like those questions you mention – they all seem to ignore what might be the purpose behind the action, and just keen to do something to be seen to be acting (which I think many companies get sucked in to when looking at e-learning. As always interesting stuff!

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