Respect The Authority – Andrew Jacobs

I wrote last time about how there isn’t a binary position for whether you’re ‘new’ L&D or ‘traditional’ L&D. It’s much more complex than that as was so well described by David Goddin. As David commented on the post:

the characterisation of what we “need to be” is contextual and multifaceted

I agree completely; if we don’t consider the context in what we do then we might as well be replaced by a mould, creating facsimiles of what we do, irrespective of the situation we’re working in. David is entirely correct that we are multifaceted and I accept that to break down the issue to only 4 areas is to over simplify what we do.

But it’s necessary.

The example that I quoted in the post lives in the real world and faces these real world issues. These people go to conferences, hear speakers eulogise over ways that they could, should, ought, might, can, must, need, and are expected to behave. When they get back to their office, and sit at their desk checking the correspondence that has fallen their way, they need an efficient and simple way to translate the big ideas and concepts they have heard into meaningful activity. This is where David’s point about context is absolutely on point – I made the 4 circles simple so people can apply it in their own context and, if they recognise their position, can start to do something about it.

The 4 factors I chose are important. Will, Skill, Resource and Authority were picked because they are both complex and easy to understand. That sounds oxymoronic but bear with me. Skill and Will are what I would define as internal factors. They can be achieved by individuals through planning, focus, attitude, etc. They aren’t necessarily reliant on others although I accept Skill may require external input. Resource and Authority are more ‘external’ factors; they require input from an outside entity, body, or person to recognise them and, although can be assumed by the individual, need to be validated externally. I did consider other factors, e.g. temporal, physical, political, social, environmental etc. However, as I mentioned, I was keen to create something that could be applied relatively simply and a 7 or 8 set Venn diagram is a complicated image to define, model and translate into day to day a strategy or tactical mindset, let alone day to day activity.

As Annette pointed out, the Skill element is, in itself multi-faceted. I’ve written about skills gaps in L&D before and the list provided by the participants in my session at the CIPD L&D show is a great example of the competency mirror that L&D places in front of itself. The starting point I refer all L&D people to is the LPI Capability Map. It’s proved to be the best tool that I know of at present to direct L&D people to a list of the core skills that reflect what L&D looks like now. The Skill area is entirely driven by context; an organisation with no history of training will perceive relatively simple interventions as sophisticated and groundbreaking; in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Julian Stodd highlighted to me how social authority can subvert formal control. The concept of formal authority limits L&D professionals; how can they challenge the ‘Best Practice’ if they’re not in a position of power? How far will they damage their reputation if they push back on the ‘traditional’? This is why we need to, as Petra pointed out

Get the new, younger, fresher, openminded, innovative crowd around these people with budgets and authority involved

This is about finding the trojan mice in your organisation and getting them onside, with you, and you with them. They will help create the social authority to challenge the norms and accepted culture. Allied to this, as an offshoot of the Skill area, is a third authority – professional. The professional is often recognised from a formal and hierarchical perspective since they have been verified in their role. This accreditation creates a social reputation which they can then use as leverage within (and without) their organisation.

In the next post I’ll look at Will (thanks to Phil for creating context in his comment for that) and Resource and start to look at some of the positions in the kaleidoscope that people in L&D find themselves in. Let me know in the comments which positions interest you most and we’ll cover those first.

About The Author:

Andrew is an L&D professional with many years experience in the learning field and an assured presenter at all levels. Determined to improve the quality of effective learning interventions. Business focused, striving to link L&D to the business agenda.

Specialties: People and team management, training design in different media, facilitation, evaluation, coaching, mentoring, management development, WYSIWYG elearning design, employee engagement, business focused learning solutions, people management

Andrew writes about Learning and Development, management, and other random topics on his blog which you can access by simply clicking here

 

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