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"If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail"

A long held criticism of 'L&D' is that it is "full of solutions looking for a problem". This often links to an inability to reflect the business context within which they are trying to facilitate change.

Some helpful questions to understand the context and cultural norms in an organisation could include:

How do people describe "high performance" around here?

How is the performance gap(s) to be tackled articulated?

What is the nature of the work to be improved? 'Standardised, repeatable' work?; 'Complex' work?; 'Discovery' work?

Are we currently a 'learning organisation'? If yes, then why and how?

How easily and quickly do information and ideas move around the organisation?

How low in the organisation's team structure can decisions be made?

How important is compliance and efficiency to the organisation?

How outward looking is the organisation for idea…
"Leadership is about doing the right things ... Management is about doing things right"

Here's my list of L&D leadership and, L&D management thinking:

L&D leads when it:

Helps leaders to understand and engage with the features and benefits of a continuous learning culture;

Defines the role and the priority of learning for the organisation;

Collaborates to agree the capabilities required to execute the business strategy; (not, just individual skills for individual jobs);

Works with team managers to coach and support them to lead and role model a continuous learning culture;

Facilitates new and better connections within and across business teams and functions;

Creates opportunities for the organisation to look outside itself, to grow its networks and to find new ideas and opportunities;

Enables and accelerates new ways for individuals and teams to share their own continuous learning;

Measures success by the quality of its partnerships;

Leads and operate beyond …
"Strategy is turning the resources you have into the power you need, to win the change you want."

Marshall Ganz

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

Lewis Carrroll

I believe the biggest challenge facing the 'L&D' industry is to define the change it actually wants to make in the world.

For work. For organisations. For leaders. For teams. For individual workers.

What's the context?
What are the problems to solve?
What are the strategic choices?
What impact will we make?

The default 'L&D' narrative remains focused on training delivery, operations and logistics. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow seems to be affirmation and acceptance from the industrialists. The overriding objective? - to land contributions to 'business critical' projects.

Seemingly, there is little ambition beyond reinforcing the 'on time / on budget / on spec.' mindset required by status quo organisational syste…
Lots of noise on the topic of L&D being more like the marketing department. This seems to mean using new broadcast tools to interrupt busy workers and try to convince them they should do what L&D thinks is good for them.

For L&D teams determined to lead real change, it can be helpful to apply some marketing 'brand building' rigour to sharpen the focus:

In four simple statements, define:

The current context of work and learning in your organisation;

The current problems for employees and managers that need to be solved and why;

How the L&D strategy helps to provide solutions to their problems;

The impact of successfully implementing the strategy (and not) for the success of the organisation


Hone this until it is unmistakably clear and sharp for everyone who needs to understand it

(Next, what and who needs to be aligned in your organisation for your L&D strategy to start to drive change?)


Paul helps L&D teams to connect the disconnected 


True - to support today's disrupted world of work. But the basis of 'L&D' comes from the traditional, industrialised model of work:

Success in the 'Build > Sell > Cut costs > Build cheaper' era required efficiency, compliance and conformity;

Stakeholders and leaders needed certainty of output and results;

"Training" and measurement fast tracked the idea of control in the system;

Responsibility for "Training" could easily be sub-contracted out to a "Business Support" function; (whilst leaders got on with the really important stuff...).

Much current L&D focus and investment still links back to this industrial mindset of driving efficiency and standardisation across an organisation. I believe this is revealed by:

'L&D's ongoing battle to demonstrate 'value' to senior people

The need to find acceptance from the organisation

The need to create and manage 'resources' that provide "the way to…
It's a truism that you get what you measure in a team or a business. When L&D acts as just an optional support function, it's "success measures" include:

Number of participant days
Number of courses / new courses per year
Course rating evaluations
Number of 'visits' to 'it's' 'platforms'
Number of 'log ins' and 'page views'
Number of 'training days' invested per employee
Average investment cost per 'learning resource'
Average 'training investment' cost per employee

These measures reinforce a primary role to serve only speed to compliance and control over training.

When L&D chooses to lead the culture and capability to solve problems in an organisation, it's value could be measured by:

The alignment of business goals and performance expectations in the organisation
How deeply the L&D team is embedded across the organisation
Their contributions to progress on the business strategy
Degre…
There is a familiar cycle for the way that many L&D teams operate in corporate organisations. The common recipe includes:

1. The organisation hasn't defined the role and priority of 'learning'; (i.e. to accelerate change, move the work culture, improve individual and team performance, enable the business strategy)
2. The L&D team (who are unable to influence the'Why?') get stuck as reactive training order takers
3. Ideas get watered down through rounds of 'pleasing the teacher' meetings resulting in 'Learning programs' and 'Learning solutions'; (interchangeable words for ease of political passage)
4. 'Learning programs' are a drain on time / costs / interest for everyone; (especially for 'busy people' on the 'front line' doing the 'real work')
5. Measurement of benefits from 'Learning programs' is difficult / negligible / hard to keep people's attention on
6. As the work performance improve…