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  • Chris

Learning needs to change

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Learning & Development needs to change. It's something we all know, deep down.

When I started out in 'training and development' things were pretty straight forward. A 'course' was the answer to everything and the training manager always new best. They had an agenda and they were going to tick all that training off the list. 

It's scary to think this approach still exists, we come across it everyday. Quite well intentioned trainers or heads of department thinking they know what they want to do. Thinking they have the answer and forcing their training offering through. If budgets are tight, switch everything online - it's brilliant want you can do to automate a powerpoint these days... (please not the sarcastic tone implied in that statement).

Learning in organisations doesn't and shouldn't work like that. 

Firstly, it MUST be aligned to the strategic goals and purpose of the organisation. If your learning approach isn't 100% supportive of the business mission, purpose, values and strategy then you are wasting your money. This isn't a lip service statement - it needs to fundamentally support what the organisation is trying to achieve. 

Secondly, learners have to experience their learning in the way they want it. E-learning is not the saviour of the world. I've seen it done well, and I've seen it done badly. Mostly, it's achieved a level of mediocrity you normally associate with politics.

Learners need and deserve a choice. Some like the solitude of learning, others the human connection of a workshop. Some prefer to find their own knowledge in a book or a film - but all learners have something in common. The need to know where they are heading.

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there" - Lewis Carroll

The quote by Lewis Carroll sums it up. Learning and development teams across the world need to take a good look in their mirror and decide if their approach is genuinely supporting the business goals. If it's not, then you must make a case for change.

I could take clients' money daily and provide what they want, but unless there is a business objective or need to fully align that investment to - they are simply wasting their money.

It's easy for a head of learning type person to be really confident that they know the right thing to do, or that their approach is best. I know, I was that person five years ago.

I used to head into meetings ready to tell people the answer to all of their problems. Surprisingly it didn't always work. My solutions were not always the best, just as operators solutions aren't always on point either. I learnt to keep it objective and take the ego out of the department. I learned to judge every business objective dispassionately and understand exactly where my work and my team supported the overall vision and goal - if it didn't support those objectives, it was canned.

Thirdly, a course or an e-learning intervention isn't the answer to anything on it's own. It's simply a starting point. L&D don't have a magic wand - that development and learning has to be alive at every level of the organisation. How often do you see a senior team behaving in a way that contradicts the company's values?

Great learning starts with a vision. It's supported by brilliant role models and it's alive in every part of the business. That doesn't take massive budgets - it takes thought and determination and really clear direction. At Acceler8 we focus on those business objectives at every step of every project - I'd never put my name to something that didn't.

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