What is the role of L&D, and what should it be?
I’ve been thinking and talking about this a lot recently, because the pace of change in our profession is pretty fast and because the old certainty – that L&D was about creating and delivering courses – no longer holds.
The days when L&D was the main (and sometimes sole) provider of information to employees has gone. The internet saw to that. Once knowledge was power. Now information is free and almost frictionless. So if all we’re doing is providing generic information to people, we don’t deserve to be in a job.
Making sure people can find and learn from the right things, however, remains an important part of L&D’s role. The process use has just stepped up a level of sophistication.
That process follows four steps. Directly or indirectly we need to:
Note – this may seem to be a description of the curation process. It is, but it is also the process we follow when creating learning content. We find the information we need to express, filter to focus on the essentials and then express it in the right format – interpret it – before making it available.
Currently in the profession we’re talking a lot about the first and last of these – about smart search and the ways we can share cleverly, making sure people can find and learn what they need.
But where the L&D department really adds value to my mind is in the third step, interpreting. This is where L&D should be using its combination of knowledge of the business, with its expertise in learning to ensure whatever the topic, it is framed in a way that makes sense to the precise context of the organisation. A generic health and safety course is ten times more valuable when expressed in terms of how that affects people at work in your organisation. A book on business leadership has more impact when discussed in respect of your own work. A YouTube video on sales makes a greater difference to performance when linked to other, work-related materials.
Conversations and social networking within the organisation may not require much interpretation to those involved (here L&D’s role is more to facilitate the conversation) – but there may still be an interpretive role to play later. Making sure that the gist of a good conversation is available later to those who didn’t participate is, I believe, something L&D should absolutely be doing, and it certainly involves interpretation.
I’ll be talking about this – and other things – in a webinar on 19th March, with Randy Emelo of Triple Creek (and I’m indebted to them for the graphic above, which they produced from my words). Randy will explore how Triple Creek can help L&D with these four steps. Like me Randy’s background includes classroom and technology work and he’s also been thinking about this topic for a number of years. It should be a good session.
Learning from Others: How Technology is Changing the Role of L&D runs on 19th March at 15:00 UK time (10 ET). I hope to see you there!