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Learning and development - the modernisation agenda

by Susan Dumas - April 30, 2014

This blog is about helping Learning & Development (L&D) to modernise how they deliver their L&D service. We specialise in helping L&D teams better support their staff with modern learning options and to drive performance improvement across the business. 

L&D - the modernisation agenda

Donald Taylor from the Learning and Performance Institute spoke at one of our events on helping L&D to modernise their service provision. He focused on - what your CEO really wants from L&D and how to deliver it. Donald's presentation discussed these questions

  1. What do CEOs want?
  2. How do CEOs/leaders interact with L&D?
  3. What has changed in L&D in the last 5-10 years?
  4. Where do you think your L&D department is on the grid?
  5. What does the term 'Performance Consulting' mean to you?
  6. What can we do about moving towards learning leadership?

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The need to modernise L&D service provision

Much has changed in L&D (or training departments as most people know them as), in the last 5-10 years. Not least that training budgets have been slashed. And this is a common pattern – when times are hard, training departments seem to be the first hit. Generally, this is because the people at the top don’t directly see the value L&D bring to the business. It is also because expectations of training and learning & development professionals haven't changed that much since most of us went to school. When we enter the world of work, many of us still expect a 'class' or a 'course' to tell us what to do.  Some of our participants commented that while senior leadership often talk about 'people being important', they don't always follow that through with action.

Where are you on the grid?

Question 4: ‘being on the grid' , Donald was referring to this:


So, for example, if you worked for an organisation who were slow to respond to market challenges, and your L&D team just did typical training events, then as an organisation you likely face a comfortable extinction. Most likely, you are busy doing the wrong things.

Donald used the examples of Kodak and Instagram. Kodak, an organisation who invented modern digital photography, went out of business recently - so they have already faced extinction. Instagram, likely to be Learning leaders, took a fresh, modern and social approach to how people use everyday photography. They were sold to Facebook for $1 Billion.

Most of our participants identified themselves as either Unacknowledged prophets or Learning leaders. The consensus was that they knew the role of modern learning strategy and learning techniques but sometimes faced barriers from others who didn't get it.

If you have similar concerns, get in touch - we can help your L&D team

Performance consulting to help modernise L&D

The final section of Donald’s presentation focused on Performance Consulting. This was starting point to help L&D overcome some of the barriers they faced. If L&D could find a way to show business leaders they could help to solve the real business problems, the CEO is more likely to take notice of the value they can add.  This Performance Consulting piece looked at the great work of Nigel Harris, a UK-based pioneer in Performance Consulting. You can read more about Nigel here.

Donald finished with a useful summary:

  1. Adopt a performance consulting approach
  2. Move beyond expectations (e.g. I want a course)
  3. Swap your L&D hat for marketing/sales
  4. Focus on small wins

What do current L&D staff think?

We had some great contributions from our participants. A key skill identified for working in L&D in this 21st century is negotiation and influencing. If L&D are not happy that their voices are being heard at a senior level, then better negotiating and influencing skills are key to this.

Selling the right engagement ring

One participant told of how he watched a London jeweller sell the best engagement ring to suit his fianceé. After his fianceé picked out an initial choice and said she wanted something like that, but she wasn't completely sure about that particular one, the conversation went like this: (not the exact words – slightly summarised)

Jeweller: What do you like about this ring?
Fianceé: I like the way it sparkles
Jeweller: Oh, so you like the way it sparkles?
Fianceé: Yes I do.
Jeweller: That’s great. That’s because of the particular cut. It’s called....
Jeweller: Is there anything else you like about it?
Fianceé: Yes, I like the band. It's not too thick.
Jeweller: Yes, that one is nice and delicate....and this other ring is similar, it has just got a slightly better...


10 essential skills for the digital age 

Listening for the right information

By using simple a selling technique and reflective listening, we can help people towards decisions that they may not have thought of. When the lady went into the shop, she didn’t know what she wanted - or at best, she had a vague idea of her likes and dislikes. In workplace learning, L&D can 'sell' better solutions by working hard with the people they serve to uncover their needs.

Imagine having this conversation with someone who comes to you saying “I want a course on…..”

Listening to people and showing that you really care about their needs helps to build trust, rapport and credibility.  I’ll finish on a useful metaphor that one of our participants gave us:

 "If I were CEO, I’d look at L&D as if it was an oil light going off in my car. If the car is working well, I keep on driving. I only deal with it when I need to. Only when the light goes off, I pull into the garage, dip the oil, add oil as necessary - but I get it over with as quickly as possible and be on my merry way. I'm not minded to keep dipping the oil or find out how it works. I just assume all is ok, until something tells me different – maybe next time it’s a rattle in the engine."        


We are here to help learning and development teams

If you are interested in taking a new approach to L&D, check out how we help learning and development teams. Our new intelligent learning platform - Percipio can boost your learning provision very quickly. And if you have scaling or supporting business growth in mind, learningCloud - our next generation LMS is worth a look. We are always on hand too if you want high quality digital learning content without the headaches of old-style eLearning projects!

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