Has L&D stalled?

Today’s the start of the HRD conference and exhibition by the CIPD. I’ve so far sat through two conference sessions, one by Stephan Thoma from Google about Nurturing Creativity and Learning in the Workplace, and the second by Peter Cheese of CIPD, and Peter Bedford from Anglo American about Devleoping Leaders who are fit for the future.

They’ve been interesting in their own rights, and it’s encouraging to hear a few things.

Google get their basics right in treating staff, and having a culture that supports innovation and creativity.

Anglo American are very focused on safety at all levels which ensures they support staff and treat them well.

Google are famous for allowing staff to have 20% of their time to work on personal projects, they aren’t concerned about market share, for them it’s about their products.

Anglo American are a truly global mulit-national who have to work hard at ensuring their leaders go through a robust training programme which provides them with the skills they need to be good leaders.

It’s interesting, right?

Are you doing some variation of the above? Are you as an L&Der / OD professional pushing these same boundaried? Is your leadership programme effective and focsued on developing them?

Here’s what I’m left with so far. Innovation in L&D has stalled. There are some intriguing innovations out there with the likes of MOOCs, but really, L&D has lost its steam. There’s nothing new. There’s nothing different. We’re not being disruptive. We’re not creating a competitive advantage to the organisations we’re part of.

At least that’s the message I’m hearing. What I’m hearing is we’re doing business as usual, doing a good job of it and being very safe in that delivery.

There are a lot of people in the social space who advocate challenging and innovating their practice, but who’s actually doing it? Where are the internal practitioners who are blazing a new trail for their organisations? Where are the external practitioners who are shaking up the world of learning and development to provide something new and exciting?

Part of me says, you know what, I shouldn’t be complaining. As a profession we’re doing a good job. Some practitioners will be trying to be the trailblazers. Some won’t know what that looks like and unsure how to start. Some are on the path of doing it, but staying safe. And all of that is ok, because we all have secure jobs and income. And it’s mildly encouraging because it means we’re not missing any tricks. We’re not behind the curve. We’re not doing any worse than the likes of Google.

And if we believe that’s ok, then we’ve already lost the end game.


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.

8 thoughts on “Has L&D stalled?”

  1. Like the post and have felt the same for a couple of years, however i would say that, in my experience, the Google example is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination ergo it is innovative and different. As for in company programmes, I have reviewed over 50 in recent years and whilst the quality is often sound there is very little to distinguish between them. The innovation lies in how, where and when these programmes are delivered and critically how they are assessed I.e. does it change behaviour. In many of the programmes I reviewed assessment was the area ripe for ‘innovation’ and ‘authenticity’. Finally, the concept of formal and informal learning enhanced by e-learning in MD programmes is still embryonic and in most cases clunky, therefore for some they are still innovating but just at a slower pace than innovators from other organisations.

    Interesting subject area though.

  2. Was at a book launch recently for @smartco and I think it was Anne Marie who used the phrase Communities of Passion as an alternative for Communities of Practice.

    Something about that came back to mind as I read your post and follow the twitter feed from the CIPD. Best Practice somehow deteriorates into an average that everyone is happy they are achieving.

    In my fantasy a Community of Passion would feel very different. What if we had CIPD conferences with a ‘fringe’ element where we were able to learn about each others curiosity, passion, learning and struggles without having to look good as we did so? Lots of disasters and a few triumphs. It would at least be a long way from the average.

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