So, I’ve seen a bright future for L&D. It’s possible, and desirable. But is it defensible? I want to suggest that it is. L&D should be the business unit with the best understanding of our brains (except, perhaps, in a neurology company, e.g. medical, or a cognitive company, e.g. AI). And I’ve argued that’s a key role. So, if we grasp that nettle and lead the change, we could and should be leading the way to a brighter new future for organizational success.
Look, cognitive science is somewhat complex. In fact, the human brain is arguably the most complex thing in the known universe! However, we have a good understanding of cognition for the purposes of guiding learning and performance in the workplace. Or, as I like to say, understanding how we think, work, and learn. Moreover, we really can’t (and shouldn’t) be doing our jobs unless we have that knowledge. (I have a workshop that can help. ;)
Now, it’s also becoming a cliche that the organizations that learn fastest will be the ones that thrive (not just survive, or not!). We must learn, individually and together. And knowing how to have people work and play well together, representing, reflecting, collaborating, and more should be L&D’s role. We should be the ones who know the most and best about how to do those things in consonance with how our cognitive architecture works.
And, to be clear, there are lots of practices in organizations that are contrary to the best learning. Fear, lack of time for reflection, micro-management, old-school brainstorming, the list goes on. Without knowledge, we may firmly be convinced we’re doing it right, and instead undermining the best outcomes! (One way to tell if it’s safe to share in your org: put in a social network. If no one participates…) On the flip side, there are lots of practices that science tells us work. Details around formal learning, creating spaces for informal learning, practices for short-term and long-term innovation, etc.
We have an uphill battle gaining the credibility we need, but I say start now, and start small. Instill the practices within L&D, take ownership of the necessary skills and knowledge, make it work, document it, and then use that success as a stepping stone to spread the word.
Then, if we are doing that facilitation of learning, you should be able to see that we are enabling the most important work in the organization! We can be the key to org success, going forward. L&D should lead the change. That’s the vision I see, at least. Does this sound good and make sense to you?