So I’ve been pushing an L&D Revolution, and for good reasons. I truly believe that L&D is on a path to extinction because: “it isn’t doing near what it could and should, and what it is doing, it is doing badly, otherwise it’s fine” (as my mantra would have it). So many bad practices – info-dump and knowledge-test classes, no alternative to courses, lack of measuring impact – mean that L&D is out of touch with the information age. And what with everyone being able to access the web, content creation tools, and social media environments, wherever and whenever they are, people can survive and thrive without what L&D does, and are doing so.
What I’ve argued is that we need to align with how we really think, work, and learn, and bring that to the organization. What L&D could be doing – providing a rich performance ecosystem that not only empowers optimal execution, but foster the necessary continual innovation – is a truly deep contribution to the success of the organization.
I feel so strongly that I wrote a book about it. If you’ve read it, you know it documents the problems, provides framing concepts, is illustrated with examples, and promotes a roadmap forward (if you’ve read and liked it, I’d love an Amazon review!). And while it’s both selling reasonably well (as far as I can tell, the information from my publisher is impenetrable ;) and leading to speaking opportunities, I fear it’s not getting to the right people. Frankly, most of my speaking and writing has been at the practitioner and manager level, and this is really for the director, and up! All the way to the C-suite, potentially. And while I make an effort to get this idea into their vision, there’s a lot of competition, because everyone wants the C-suite’s attention.
The point I want to make is that the real audience for this book is your boss (unless you’re the CEO, of course ;). And I’m not saying this to sell books (I’m unlikely to make more than enough to buy a couple of cups of coffee off the proceeds, given book contracts), but because I think the message is so important!
So, let me implore you to consider somehow getting the revolution in front of your boss, or your grandboss, and up. It doesn’t have to be the book, but the concept really needs to be understood if the organization is going to remain competitive. All evidence points to the fact that organizations have to become more agile, and that’s a role L&D is in a prime position to facilitate. If, however (and that’s a big if), they get the bigger picture. And that’s the message I’m trying to spread in all the ways I can see. I welcome your thoughts, and your assistance even more.
Brian Wrest says
While I’ve not read it, myself and fellow practitioners (when will we stop practicing and start “doing”?) all feel the same way. So I’ll give this book a go. But what I experience is the lack of understanding with those who are not L&D professionals. In my past and current experiences within an L&D role I’ve seen much misunderstanding about our role and what we should offer to end-users. In general, until we can prove our worth, we will not be on the same level as a marketer, sales advisor, electrical/mechanical engineer, lean practitioner. And it’s our fault.
Brian, spot on that it’s our fault. Our role has been (self-)relegated to that of ‘course provider’. Which is increasingly irrelevant. With people end-running L&D to use Google & Youtube, attend conferences, watch free webinars, and more, and as L&D keeps pushing boring compliance courses, the organization is going to stop seeing L&D as a viable entity to receive funding. And this is a shame, in my opinion. The opportunity is to be a core contributor to the organization via facilitating innovation and creating an ecosystem of resources to optimize the workflow (job aids, mentoring & coaching, experts, collaborators, and yes, even courses). But we have to own that vision, sell it, and deliver on it. My book is written to the L&D & HR manager and executive to get the picture and ‘get’ the change. Then *they* will need to sell it. Thanks for the contribution!
Paul Foreman says
You have some very good insight however, there are and will be in the foreseeable future – many liability issues and a need for the “training” that we seem so eager to leave behind. I would suggest that there will continue to be a place for the ‘course provider’ but that isn’t a curse if it is managed in an effective and engaging way. You can not YouTube or Google the new leave policy or how the in-house payroll system works – that and other subjects unique to the enterprise are topics which will still have to be provided/trained. If there is fault to be had, it is in not making those unique expectations and the delivery of them a part of the core of the organization and being part of the business and not behaving as an ‘add on’ element. Be aware of and provide for the needs of the end user but also remember the organization has needs too which have to be provided for.
Paul, absolutely agree that there’s a need for courses, but not as the only arrow in our quiver. I might quibble about whether the new leave policy or payroll system are appropriate topics (seem more appropriate to performance support), but certainly there will be proprietary processes that will require training. We too often do courses badly, but there are definitely roles for them, as well as performance support, and the social network. Keeping our eye on the bigger picture will help us use courses when appropriate, and then we’re likely to understand why they should be done well.