What solutions can L&D provide if courses aren’t the answer?

A couple of weeks ago, Myles Runham wrote this really interesting piece on whether or not L&D can work without courses.

His main provocation is this:
In L&D… we seek problems for which the course, a programme, an event and some content are the answer. These may or may not be learning, training or performance problems… We like these problems because we are ready to create (these) solutions, not because they are the most valuable problems to solve.

So I’d like to posit stuff on solutions which are not event based in any shape. Many of you will recognise some of these as part of stuff you’ve either delivered or take part in yourselves.

  • Define the actual performance problem not the training problem. Starting from there means better exploration of solutions for the manager/leader you’re working with.
  • Ask yourself, what practical digital resources will help the people who need it most effectively?
  • Work with the manager/leader to figure out what operational/tactical/day to day stuff is preventing the desired performance from taking place. Work to resolve that.
  • One of the ways Twitter has grown its user base is using hashtags for regular chats. It creates good habits around community and a healthy space for exploration of topics of interest.
  • Find people in your organisation who can answer stuff on your behalf – be that managers, HR Business Partners, comms folks – a lot of people are willing to help.
  • If you’re dealing with compliance issues, learn more about behavioral science and less about mandatory training.
  • If you want leaders to improve, expose them to what great looks like and let them figure it out.
  • Coaching is a powerful tool to enable ownership of issues and developing personal thinking capabilities.
  • If you’re dealing with diversity issues, look at your organisational design systems and how you can influence those, not worry about diversity training.
  • If you’re looking at inclusion, look at your culture and organisational development practices and how you can influence those, not worry about thought leadership pieces.
  • If you’re looking at leadership development, give them proper organisational problems to resolve, with the right support in place to enable success.

These are just some examples of how L&D can add value and provide solutions without needing to resort to an event of any sort being the default answer. Sometimes, a course/event/training is necessary – for things like core skill development. For most organisational needs and problems, a course won’t be the solution. I have friends whose bread and butter is to deliver courses. That’s good and I’m not arguing against delivery of courses – they often serve a clear need. In many organisational issues, we should be looking at better solutions.

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.

2 thoughts on “What solutions can L&D provide if courses aren’t the answer?”

  1. If there is an area where ‘digital’ has really transformed L&D I would say it is an understanding of what a ‘course’ is. It feels that, today, there is no shared understanding of the word and, therefore, a ‘course’ may be the answer to a problem or development need but part of working out the solution is working out what those involved may perceive a ‘course’ to be.

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