I’m always one for looking out for the new shiny. My new phone is a good example of this. I only got my HTC Desire HD a year back, and with new smartphones available I was thinking I was behind the technology curve, so got the HTC Sensation XE (which is a very good phone that I’m a little bit in love with). Yet, if I look at my job and what I do, there is no new shiny, and this troubles me. Yet, the problem isn’t that it troubles me, the question is – why is there no new shiny?
The new shiny I’m talking about in this instance, is advancements in learning and development. We just don’t seem to be advancing. It’s much of the same. We’re using theories and models that have been developed by some very clever people before us, and trying to use these to help us develop something meaningful for our client base.
Developments in car engineering and technological development is an interesting comparator in this instance. The new range of Ford cars are boasting keyless entry to the car. Which is impressive, except BMW had this available on their cars eight years ago. What was the last big thing to happen to L&D in recent years? E-learning? Social learning? Difficult to say right? NLP? Possibly even emotional intelligence? And this leaves our profession standing quite still. We might be a forward thinking group of people, capable of delivering interesting solutions to people problems, but we’re using very little in terms of new models or theories to help us get there.
Take a moment and think about what the default models and theories are that you fall on when developing a new course or solution. They’re going to be the same, tired and tested things most people in the industry are familiar with. And I don’t know if this means our profession is lazy, or we’re just not as bright as we might like to think we are. Even worse, most of what we use is written by someone else, and it’s our best interpretation that helps us to make sense of it.
The question, in my mind, becomes > is this good enough for L&D? As a profession we are experts at engaging a group of people, understanding what solutions we might be able to provide, and design something impressive to fit the bill. But we’re just not being bold enough to break free from the teachings we’ve been given, and we’re not brave enough to come up with our own thinking. It’s too risky and too difficult to be that creative. Which is why I applaud the many consultancies that are out there that try and create a product and hold on to the IP so they can make their money from it. At the same time though, they’re doomed to failure. Mainly because the new products are so niche only the few will ever understand them. The beauty of concepts like NLP and EQ have been that they were broad enough for anyone to take an interest and become an expert.
It’s topics like this which get me thinking about what’s good enough for our industry, and it’s topics like this that I want to discuss at the L&D Connect Unconference. Come along, and be part of the conversation, it will be well worth your time.