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OPINION Organisational Learning and Talent Manager, London Borough of Lewisham

viewp int Practitioner’s

traditional face-to-face off er to be able to deliver a revised programme at no additional cost to the organisation. T is had become an issue of


recently had a chat with a group of L&D professionals about their workplace and

how they could develop the learning function in their business. T ey talked about their service and the purpose and pride they had in both their work and their organisation. T ey talked about the channels through which they delivered and how the organisation was now asking for something new and refreshed. When they developed a more

social approach based on current thinking and challenging the face- to-face culture, the organisation pushed back and confi rmed an expectation for a formal course.

What’s the cause?

T e reason they were still delivering a traditional off er wasn’t about their skills as a team; they knew their capabilities needed to develop and they had diff erent skillsets and behaviours which refl ect the current thinking in the learning industry. It wasn’t an issue of will;

they had a desire to develop a diff erent off er from the established face-to-face programmes. It wasn’t even about resources;

they had put budget aside from their 8 | October 2016 |

authority. As a group of L&D profes- sionals, they didn’t have organisational or social authority to eff ect the change. T e lack of hierarchical authority meant they were still perceived as shopkeepers within the organisation, providing content on demand from a cost basis with expectations around scale and application. T eir lack of social authority meant they lacked infl uence with managers and staff to get buy-in for new ideas.

Testing the theory

I got the opportunity to test these four elements – skill, will, resources and authority – with a group of learning professionals at the recent Learning Live conference and exhibition. T e group was split into teams and tasked with producing the best paper plane. T eir creativity knew no bounds. At the end of the allotted time,

Andrew Jacobs looks at what makes a learning leader … and it’s not about skill, will or resources

the group tested their designs and they were moderately successful. T ey met the requirements of skill; the most skilful team members were asked to produce the best plane. T ey met the will factor to such an extent that I had to temper their enthusiasm at one point. I gave the group per- mission to work in whatever way they wanted and, in typical L&D fashion, they worked as competitive teams. And resources? T ey used lots of paper.

As a group of L&D professionals, they didn’t have organisational or social authority to effect the change

❝ T e group applauded each other’s

eff orts and a winner was agreed upon. T e task I had set was to produce the best paper plane and that’s what the teams did. What they didn’t do was establish the business requirement of what the ‘best’ plane was. In July’s TJ, Donald H Taylor asked

where the next learning leaders would come from. I would suggest that it isn’t those with the most motivated and skilful teams, with all the resources they need, in infl uential roles within the organisation. It’ll be those who demonstrate they fundamentally un- derstand how we can help the business improve on its terms and measures.

Andrew Jacobs is Organisational Learning and Talent Manager for the London Borough of Lewisham. A recognised leader in learning, he is known for innovative thinking about learning, training and technology. Follow him @AndrewJacobsLD


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