What is the value proposition of L&D?

L&D can often be accused of not focusing on the needs of the business they sit within. Sunder Ramachandran, Head of Training at Pfizer, spent time discussing this and Jo Cook records his comments.

The Learning Technologies conference in London early each year always has a wonderful mix of thought leaders speaking. The Learning eXchange, hosted on the Towards Maturity exhibition stand, allows conversation with conference speakers without needing to spend on the conference ticket.

The value proposition of L&D was the subject of the Learning eXchange with Sunder Ramachandran and the conversation soon got around to the value that L&D departments can offer to businesses, especially when the organisation is full of experts. Ramachandran said that businesses were “agnostic to traditional training elements. No one is interested in the number of people trained.

Can you report on proficiency or movement across competency groups? The business doesn’t care if it’s social, mobile or virtual. What can you do beyond training? Can you be the catalyst for the employer brand? Research shows that people leave organisations because they don’t thrive on learning opportunities.

Trainers are good at communication, so therefore good at change management. Can you become supply chain managers of knowledge? It’s not about designing and delivering courses, this is where enterprise social networks come in.”

The group discussion the focused on the how the learner is changing. Ramachandran commented with questions for the group to focus on: “How do you ensure earning is embedded in the workflow? It’s expensive to take a day off for training. You need training that is device agnostic and available on multiple devices. You need to distinguish it and embed it in the workflow, such as with a sales example.

There might be a 45 minute sales appointment, but there is travelling and waiting time for appointments – the rest of the day is wasted time. Could that person look at an infographic or watch a two minute video just in time for the appointment?”

Ramachandran went on to discuss the learning landscape by saying “SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud – what are you doing or are you even leveraging these things? Bring Your Own Device was big a few years ago. Now it’s bring your own learning. People don’t want to learn from the Learning Management System! I want to learn from YouTube or lynda.com. 

People are finding value and not in your enterprise systems. Is this threatening us, how are we managing this? A lot of L&D managers have a control mindset and want to choose what you learn. It needs to start with us, how open are we as learning professionals to say, sometimes I, or my function, is not the right place. 

From a value proposition point of view, how invested are we in knowing the landscape and seeing what is going on? Some HR and L&D directors are old school and don’t know what else they can ask for and haven’t seen anything, they need to exposed to something better and different.”

The conversation about value proposition continued with Ramachandran stating “it’s about knowing what to say no to. L&D has a yes habit, people ask us to do training and we pull our catalogue out and say ‘which course?’ You can end up becoming the handyman. The moment we say yes it impacts our credibility. People are not learning because L&D are there, they are learning anyway.”

A question from the group included how to focus on designing rich job experiences, such as the 70:20:10 work that Charles Jennings promotes. Ramachandran answered: “Most organisations have some kind of competency grid. It’s what matters, so it’s not so difficult to track. If you don’t think it’s important, maybe you haven’t devised it properly.”

If you would like to have time with a conference speaker at next year’s Learning Technologies exhibition, just look on the Towards Maturity website nearer the time. 


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