Is L&D ready for the future?

LPI Capability Map Six Month Report June 2013_Page_01Today sees publication of an important report from the Learning and Performance Institute (which I chair) on the state of skills in the L&D profession. (The full report is free to LPI Members, the summary report is available to all.)

The report looks at the self-assessments of 983 individuals against the LPI’s Capability Map, which describes the L&D profession in 27 skills, ranged over 4 levels (click to see the LPI Capability Map in detail).

The report runs to 22 pages and gives a comprehensive overview, backed up with data, of the state of our skills in this profession. It is not something for the faint-hearted. As the executive summary puts it:

The results suggest that the profession lacks the broader, business-based skills it will need to contribute as part of the organisation of the future. Those leading L&D departments are better skills than most in these areas, but still lack the breadth of skill required both to lead their departments and to communicate effectively with the rest of the business. The good news, however, is that the L&D profession is clearly keen to develop.

The report backs up these assertions with the data of six months of L&D professionals self-assessing their skills. I believe these conclusions hold up, and I don’t feel they are overly negative. Nor do I believe they will come as a shock to most in our profession.

What gives them impact are the numbers that back them up. What makes them pressing and timely  is the increased speed of business and the need to share  information and experience fast.

L&D cannot be the bottle-neck in this crucial process of sharing. Rather it must be the enabler, which means both increasing engagement with the rest of the business and stepping back from being mainly the producer of information/ content/courses and focusing in addition on systems and processes that encourage employees to learn from each other.

This is a new vision of what we do, very different from the tradition of training that I joined when beginning in this industry over 25 years ago. The good news is that in my experience the profession appears  mostly ready to adapt and change to meet this challenge.

If you’re not a member of the LPI, the summary report can either be downloaded by clicking here or requested by email from

6 responses to “Is L&D ready for the future?

  1. Don, I support anything that helps the L&D profession to develop its expertise and professionalism. This sounds like a great first step – I look forward to reading more reports based on the capability map.

  2. At first I read this as 983 skills, and thought, “No wonder the profession ha such a reputation.”

    I think that people like you, and those who follow you, skew toward the proactive end of the profession. When I peruse forums like LinkedIn groups, I’m depressed beyond description by the prevalence of authoritarianism, traditionalism, instructor-centrism, and the enduring cult of the objective test.

    These people don’t want to change and aren’t going to. Often they get along quite well within an organization that either ignores performance improvement as a tool, or that hews to the Little Corporate Schoolhouse model of “learning.”

    When the learning profession on the whole recognizes that learning happens within the individual, and not because of the wizardry of an outsider — and when it admits that most workplace improvement results from something other than formal training — then I might concede that “the profession appears mostly ready to adapt and change.” While so much mainstream talk is on designing elearning, feeding the LMS, and pivoting in various ways around the course as the end-all and be-all, the fault is definitely not in the stars.

    • Dave I appreciate your taking the time to comment and I have to agree that at times the profession seems mired in the debates of the past, but I do see good practice – and great practice – often enough to give me cause for hope for the futre!

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