Learning and development is one of those fields that has to justify its existence on a regular basis. It’s not that organisations don’t believe in the need for L&D, they just don’t necessarily believe in needing people who are qualified to do the job actually doing the job. That is, they’d just rather not if it’s all the same. After all, all the person does is to stand there and wang on about how all we have to do is communicate with each other, and anyone can put some e-learning together can’t they.
At the same time though, there are plenty of L&Ders who make careful and thoughtful efforts to ensure the work they do isn’t just important, but the organisation doesn’t doubt the importance of having such a function. When the learning events that take place make a real difference. When the theories and models used in the learning events are actively used by people on a day to day basis. When the learning that took place actually creates behavioural change. This is where L&D is at its best.
Our profession is in a serious state of flux at the moment. The continuum is at its most polarised. On one end you have organisations who cannot and will not invest in their people with any kind of formal training, and only do it themselves on a wing and a prayer. Because they’re that shit hot. On the other end of the scale you have organisations where L&D is creating lasting change. Because the organisation has got it right. And at different points along that scale you have varying degrees of L&D intervention, either by internal or external professionals.
L&D doesn’t happen by accident. It happens through a systematic process which helps to define a course of action. There is a methodology and a way of doing things. Solutions present themselves and need to be followed through. The L&Der is about facilitating that change and making it happen. It’s not a science, and you can’t measure the direct effect of change. Well you can, but when did you last measure how effective your driving skills were?
Yet, when you can point to a person acting in a way which helps the organisation move forward, this is what L&D is there to achieve.
When an organisation is able to produce people who are advocates of their company, this is because L&D is embedded throughout.
Where there is a culture of people wanting to learn from projects and make the right decisions for the future of the organisation, that’s L&D at work.
I’m a believer in sowing the seeds for future growth. If I can do that, if I can give someone a way of doing something in the future which makes a positive difference to their life, then I’ve succeeded. The challenge with this philosophy is it is timeless. The challenge with this philosophy is it is free of measurement. The challenge with this philosophy is that it can’t be predictive. Everything an organisation wants to know about how L&D will make a difference is a paradox.
Learning happens all the time. If we could predict the moment when someone will make a difference, then we will have cracked the very nut of freewill and found a way of creating drones.
Thank God we’re human.