There was a narrative a few years back about the changing nature of the world and how it was all VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This was mostly in relation to organisational change and political change (the Arab Spring was only a few years back). I mean it’s still all that. That hasn’t changed. What we’re also experiencing are unprecedented accelerations in technology and what it’s enabling people to do. And we’re seeing a whole new development of narrative taking place around gender politics and identity politics.
Change is just a constant factor in today’s world. It’s less that we need to be mindful about change fatigue in organisations and in people, and more that we have to develop new sets of skills and attitudes to help people move forward. It’s less about using tried and tested methodologies of change management, and more about building resilience in the system to shift and by virtue of a resilient system, developing the capability of people to stop, change, adapt and lead in new ways like they’ve never been asked before.
In L&D we’re a microcosm of what’s happening in the organisations we’re either part of or working for. And what I see is less of an understanding about the connection between business performance and capability building and more about needing to use the right models and strategies for delivering learning solutions. That’s fine and it’s all good work. But it doesn’t help our business leaders stand up and lead well. Not really. Instead we’ve just replaced the order taking approach of delivering courses or e-learning and replaced it with trying to formalise and design informal learning structures and collaboration experiments.
None of us have got this right. I know I haven’t. I’m working in a system, part of a system, influencing the system, and a lot of what I deliver is what is needed. It’s not bleeding edge, and we’re not designed as an organisation to be that.
I started off with a trail of thought about L&D needing to build capacity and capability for resilience in the organisations we’re part of. And now I’m not so sure. I think I’m saying L&D is fundamentally broken and we’re unfit to lead our organisations as they need us to.
Well, that was unexpected.