Magazine excerpt: Ammunition in the battle

Dan Ferrandino’s perspective on the upcoming TJ Awards.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Dickens’ famous opening line might have been written about the French Revolution, but it would fit just as well in a novel about 21st-century L&D. Every CEO would profess that the single most important part of the organisation is its people.

Yet how many of them make learning and development a top priority in their annual budget? The worth and commercial relevance of L&D is a debate that’s been raging for decades. The industry has long been fighting for a seat at the board table – and that fight isn’t getting any easier in uncertain economic times.

Demonstrating the positive impact that L&D has on a business is a challenge our whole industry shares. When it comes to something as messy as people, outputs, returns and performance improvements can be undeniably difficult to track in terms of hard metrics – not impossible, mind, but difficult.

And then there’s the issue that L&D drives so much of value that simply can’t be captured in a graph. This is why awards are so crucial for L&D. The TJ Awards 2017 provide the opportunity for all of us who work in the industry to gain proper recognition for our achievements and highlight our real and considerable business impact.

They aren’t just a cosy pat on a back and a fancy dinner (although, of course, that’s always nice). They represent a high-profile chance to improve business leaders’ understanding of, and invest-ment in, learning and development. And that’s a chance we can’t afford to pass up.

Demonstrating the positive impact that L&D has on a business is a challenge our whole industry shares. 

But awards are also important because they keep the industry itself accountable. When the best in class is publicly celebrated, it’s much harder to get away with fuzzy measurements and limp work. They fire our ambitions to push ourselves. And they also inspire our clients (current and potential) to push for those better results as well.

The power of pride

Pride is a powerful motivating force. Awards don’t just give a boost to the organisations that win them; they can raise standards across an entire industry. Sharing great ideas inspires more creativity, leading to the development of new products, services and approaches across the board.

Those fresh innovations are exactly what the TJ Awards judges, including we at Capita Learning Services, are looking for when choosing a winner. And when we highlight them, we have the chance to set off
a virtuous cycle of celebration and innovation – not bad for a day’s work.

That’s one reason we jumped at the chance to sponsor the awards. Another concerns the importance of diversity. One thing I love about working at Capita Learning Services is that I get to see so many different
definitions and styles of great learning. 

As a group embracing five different L&D brands – with the common aim to deliver outstanding performance results – we understand that there are multiple ways to achieve a goal, and they work even better when combined.

It might sometimes feel hard to get leaders, clients and colleagues to understand the vital importance of investing in people, but we are on the cusp of a golden age for L&D. New technology, such as the personalised, trackable learning pioneered by our own digital learning specialists Brightwave, is revolutionising the way we measure results and demonstrate success.

Capturing more – and better – data during the delivery of L&D programmes, and then using that data to drive smarter strategies, is where the future of the industry lies. Brightwave’s engine, tessello – a collaborative platform that designs customised, cross-platform content – has already won many awards, and I for one can’t wait to see the next big advancements in the L&D data and analytics space.

Or take Brightwave’s stablemate, G2G3, an Edinburgh-based company that drives employee behavioural change by using immersive simulations, virtual environments and gamification.

G2G3 operates primarily in the IT services management sector, as well as in the emergency services, justice, security, nuclear and oil and gas industries – and if those guys can buy in to something with such a disruptive approach, there’s no excuse for plugging away at outdated and uninspiring change programmes.

These two very different examples demonstrate that the entire industry needs to adopt a bold approach to meet the challenges it faces. What better way to get the message across, and build on the exciting work already being achieved, than by highlighting the best through awards?


About the author

Dan Ferrandino is a director of Capita Learning Services


This is an abridged version of a piece from this September’s TJ magazine – subscribe to the magazine here


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