Is the “new normal” for Learning and Development just “change washing”?

Change washing (noun): the process of introducing reforms that purport to bring about change but fail to result in any substantive shifts in systems, services or culture.”

Thea Snow and Abe Greenspoon

“The pandemic means things will never be the same in L&D.”
“There’s no going back to the old ways in L&D after the pandemic.”
“The pandemic has created a ‘new normal’ for workplace Learning and Development.”
Against a backdrop of (mostly vendor led) proclamations of “Everything is now different in L&D“, it’s arguably more helpful to reflect on what appears to remain the same:

Organisations value ‘L&D’ when reacting to urgent and unforeseen events

The ‘corporate industrial education complex’ is still the overriding approach

When organisational ‘political capital’ is high, ‘L&D success measures’ are less of a priority

The term “learning” is still shorthand for “training”

L&D and their sponsors still struggle to differentiate between “goals”, “strategies” and “tactics”

‘Access’ and ‘consumption’ are still the lead priorities

There is still an overriding focus on (new) ‘topics’ over defining what new ‘performance’ needs to look like – and why

There still a balance towards organising, administering and activating (management), over redefining, facilitating and enabling (leadership) in the work of L&D

There is still little focus on business models, market differentiators, organisational goals or enabling increased agency and autonomy in the L&D ‘narrative’

The “L&D industry” and the “L&D profession” are still two different things

So, even though the supporting tools and tactics might well be different, the underlying Management system and culture is probably still the same; (for now…).

About the author – Paul Jocelyn:

Experienced strategic Head of Learning & Development now helping teams build the knowledge, thinking and learning culture needed to deliver a business strategy.

Paul works alongside business leaders and teams to grow capability and improve results. Paul is also an approved LPI Accreditation Mentor – find out more here.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn

Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulJocelyn

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