Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

19 May 2015


Clark @ 9:44 AM

Is there an appetite for change in L&D? That was the conversation I’ve had with colleagues lately. And I have to say that that the answer is mixed, at best.

The consensus is that most of L&D is comfortably numb. That L&D folks are barely coping with getting courses out on a rapid schedule and running training events because that’s what’s expected and known. There really isn’t any burning desire for change, or willingness to move even if there is.

This is a problem. As one commented: “When I work with others (managers etc) they realise they don’t actually need L&D any more”. And that’s increasingly true: with tools to do narrated slides, screencasts, and videos in the hands of everyone, there’s little need to have the same old ordinary courses coming from L&D. People can create or access portals to share created and curated resources, and social networks to interact with one another. L&D will become just a part of HR, addressing the requirements – onboarding and compliance – everything else will be self-serve.

The sad part of this is the promise of what L&D could be doing. If L&D started facilitating learning, not controlling it, things could go better. If L&D realized it was about supporting the broad spectrum of learning, including self-learning, and social learning, and research and problem-solving and trouble-shooting and design and all the other situations where you don’t know the answer when you start, the possibilities are huge. L&D could be responsible for optimizing execution of the things they know people need to do, but with a broader perspective that includes putting knowledge into the world when possible. And L&D could be also optimizing the ability of the organization to continually innovate.

It is this possibility that keeps me going. There’s the brilliant world where the people who understand learning combine with the people who know technology and work together to enable organizations to flourish. That’s the world I want to live in, and as Alan Kay famously said: “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Can we, please?


  1. Clark, well put. Several months ago I penned the blog, “Is Corporate Education Innovating Fast Enough?” I wrote:

    I’m thinking that if we compared the public education system to that of corporate America, the level of innovation and change occurring in the public education system is beating corporate education hands down. The reason being, public education is under a constant level of scrutiny and is experiencing real competition from alternatives like Charter Schools.

    Clark, L&D seems to be stuck in a world of what we’re capable of doing, vs. what we should be doing.

    Thank you for your perspectives.

    Comment by Rod J — 19 May 2015 @ 1:55 PM

  2. […] Quinn and his post Ch-ch-ch changes started my tea party musings this morning and while I was enjoying the topic of what L&D is and […]

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  3. Well stagnation is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone (thought it’s not a rarity I think). But to be optimistic: where’s the stagnation there’ll soon may be a revolution (or any revolutionary action) in order to get the things back on track.

    Comment by John Laskaris — 22 May 2015 @ 1:54 AM

  4. […] this all requires significant change, and Clark Quinn, in Ch-ch-ch-changes, asked […]

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