Every now and then it’s good to take a good long hard at yourself in the mirror and ask the question – just what am I for?
This profession I work in, Learning and Development. I’ve been at it for a while now, been writing about it for a while now, set up communities of interest around the topic, and get involved in various online discussions to promote the area and discuss what and how we do the work we do.
But, what is it?
It’s an odd bit of terminology that doesn’t really mean anything.
If you look at the Operations, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Call Centre roles of this world, you have an immediate sense of what it means to work in those fields – and you have a sense of what function they perform.
The most common response to saying what function I perform is – oh so you do training?
I shouldn’t really be surprised by this though.
It’s only those of us in the industry who care about the broader definition of what we do. And if you want a list?
– we do training
– we facilitate workshops
– we provide e-learning
– we use online and social learning tools
– we promote and market the organisation internally and externally
– we deliver management and leadership training
– we provide coaching
I’m not writing this to start a conversation about what we term ourselves or how relevant we are as a profession, just to make the point that I don’t think any term could actually capture what we do.
Even the term Organisational Development is nebulous. I’ve worked in some organisations where that terminology means the delivery of training, and in others where it means facilitating cross-departmental working, and in others where it refers to talent management and or recruitment processes.
And then there’s questions raised about what those words – Learning and Development, actually mean. To learn means to undertake a form of study in order to help me achieve some knowledge I didn’t have before. To develop means to take that learning and use it so that I may become a better craftsperson/practitioner.
Have a think about that for a moment. None of that describes the need for a person to fulfil that function. If anything, it suggests learning and development should be entirely a self-directed process.
It’s just a space we occupy which we understand is about people development but we think needs a better definition.
Hey, inadvertently. I think I’ve just coined our new name – People Development.