Conference Season

The months from the end of Summer to the start of Winter are the unofficial Conference Season. Highlights this season have included chairing both the IITT annual conference (last month) and the InfoBasis Skills Summit 2008 (last week). I ended last week keynoting at e2train‘s annual Uncovered conference.

Because it was only last week, the Skills Summit is still very much in my mind. Feedback on the day was very positive – which is what happens when you get great speakers like Professor William Scott-Jackson, Donald Clark and Alan Hewitt, along with pertinent case studies from Transport for London and BAE Systems. We went from a high-level view of human capital and talent down to the specifics of implementing a competencies approach for a profession and for a department, and that structure worked well. Thanks are due to InfoBasis partner, the IET, for the use of their splendid Riverside Room at Savoy Place. Despite being a jaded Londer myself, I marvelled at the panoramic view of the Thames, from the City across to Westminster.

Meanwhile, at e2train’s conference in rural Gloucestershire, I found during my speaking slot and talking to people afterwards that learning and development has had enough. Quite rightly L&D professionals are tired of having managers who don’t need training asking for it, and those that do need it not asking for it. There isn’t a quick fix to this, because getting skills development right requires a mind change from managers, executives and from L&D itself. Ultimately, yes, the right tools need to be in place – including  a competency-based L&D strategy – but the key thing is to change the relationship between L&D and the rest of the organisation. It must cease being an add-on and become an integral part of the role of the line manager, supported by a centralised function.

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