20 insights on why organisations should change their thinking around 'L&D'

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."

 John F. Kennedy

1. Business and work have changed. The role and priorities for workplace learning need to reflect and accelerate these shifts.

2. Businesses struggle with change and adaptability - and learning is the best enabler and accelerator for these goals.

3. Most corporate L&D investments are focused on making things stay the same. This is a huge risk to growth.

4. Most corporate L&D investments aren't focused on what will be most valuable and differentiating for the business.

5. It's impossible to have a truly diverse organisation without a commitment to continual learning, reflection and growth. 

6. Continuing to separate the 'thinkers' from the 'doers' inside a business is commercial suicide.

7. Work is moving from (just) completing tasks to creating value - which means that to grow organisations need to invest in enabling inquiry, new questions and bringing the 'outside in'.

8. Aiming to develop only interchangeable, compliant, 'standardised' workers is now a risk to future growth (see above).

9. The "re-skilling emergency!" is a symptom - of the failure of the current system in organisations and the environment it has created and rewarded.

10. The current barriers that prevent different teams from connecting and learning from one another act as a brake to new growth. 

11. There is experience, wisdom, ideas and new possibilities everywhere in the organisation. The way we approach learning currently doesn't enable others to benefit from this.

12. Because we've separated 'L&D' into a 'department' it is detached from the 'real' organisation - its market, its goals, the business strategy, the operations, the management model and its different cultures. 

13. Organisations that have thrived through control are now struggling with 'continual learning' which needs people to be curious, ask new questions and feel 'safe' to try. So the goals, strategies and tactics around L&D should recognise and help to enable this shift. 

14. Most organisations over focus on individual performance and individual education. This is a problem because the biggest impact on an individual's performance is the system they are working in - which we don't spend enough time understanding and improving. 

15. There is a vicious cycle: L&D teams trying to fix problems caused elsewhere (upstream), whilst L&D's approach is undoing improvements coming from other parts of the business. We need to join things up. 

16. People have different expectations of employment now - of their boss, of the 'purpose' of the organisation and of the contribution they expect to be able to bring. The approach to learning needs to reflect and support this - or they'll take their ideas and potential elsewhere. 

17. Having the right ambition and infrastructure around continual learning is increasingly 'table stakes' for new hires. (See above).

18. Training only works when we have all the answers; (think of the old 'factory' model). Increasingly this isn't true for complex businesses which need new ideas to grow. 

19. When we focus on training solutions we inevitably create 'success measures' that reinforce the wrong things - attendance, completion, compliance. These don't help us to understand if the work is improving. 

20. The training part - effectively getting people to understand and then comply - used to be hard and therefore valuable and differentiating for a business. This part is now easy because of the internet. The hard, valuable and differentiating part now is creating an environment where people can think, work and learn together effectively to enable growth. 


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