I feel that this is the year of pivotal change within the L&D industry. For years we have spoken about the future of L&D and how L&D has been changing, but we know in our heart of hearts that there has been hardly any movement.
If you read the research from the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI), Towards Maturity or the CIPD, the profession was continuing year on year with very little change. Well the truth is, until this year, nothing really had changed. As the global and local economy becomes more stretched and every penny counts in businesses, however big and small, people are starting to question the value they are getting from their investments and what impact it is making. It is so interesting to see the merry-go-round conversations about insourcing and outsourcing of ‘Training’ and whether the first line to be cut in any change should be the ‘people/training’ investment line.
So, why do I think that this and future years are looking different? As we see some businesses fail and others become more successful, such as John Lewis, the heart of any company whether you produce widgets or are a service business, is your people. Look at the industry overall and how Health and Safety, Wellbeing, Occupational health and people interventions are becoming more and more pronounced. Yes, you could argue that we are in a more litigious world. However this practice has been around for hundreds of years, it is just more noticeable now through TV, Internet and Social platforms. But back to my point about why I think this year is really different. I feel that companies are starting to realise that the one lever, if they pull hard enough, to make a difference to long term revenue growth, customer satisfaction or customer churn is investment in their people.
I believe that every other avenue has been exhausted and ‘people investment’ is the area that is delivering the most immediate return and impact on the bottom line. I have been very lucky in my career as I have worked with many great companies that have realised this and no company more so than O2.
So what is the Future of Learning?
The future of learning is to make a real impact on your business, align your function to man-mark the organisation, stop using language the business doesn’t understand, be clear on your purpose and ensure that this aligns with your executive board, stop worrying about ROI/ROE, stop implementing new LMS’s or tools that no one wants, build your reputation and hire people that have the desire and attitude to make a difference and speak/understand the business language you are aligned to. Gone are the days of producing “stuff” or quoting pointless figures on training numbers, without really understanding whether you are solving a business problem, making an impact or investing in programmes that the business wants.
If more L&D departments thought of themselves as business units and not ‘order takers’ or a production line of content, the world will be a better place. We need to move our teams from production to consultants who feel ok about curating content and stop worrying about the past and focus on the future.
Be part of the new world of L&D and leave the past behind. I can talk from experience that being respected as part of the business and not some production house feels great and we are making a real difference. It can be done.
About the author – Paul Morgan:
Paul has over 20 years senior Learning & Development experience under his belt working across BtoB, BtoC , retail and digital telco sectors in blue chip & medium sized companies such as Microsoft and Azlan. He currently is the Head of Learning and Development for O2 (Telefonica).
In his current role, he is responsible for driving the Learning and Development strategy and plan across 7,500 people within Telefonica, ranging from IT Engineering, Business Sales through to our partner channel with Capita and Tesco mobile.
In his previous roles at Microsoft, Paul was responsible for the retail training strategy across numerous retail products, which included all aspects of the L&D product mix including field sales teams, online and face to face training as well as large advocacy projects reaching over 20,000 retail sales professionals.
He is very passionate about the pivotal role that L&D delivers to the partner, end user channel and internal teams, increasing their capability in an ever changing and complex technological environment and delivering clear benefits that support the business goals.