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REIMAGINING L&D


It’s time to embed learning in our day- to-day work, says Charles Jennings


T


here is an old Chinese saying: “Better to be a dog in a peace- ful time than to be a human


in a chaotic time.” It’s possible this is the origin of the expression: “May you live in interesting times.” Whether or not that’s the case, the world of L&D is certainly living in very interesting, exciting and chaotic times right now. Over the past few years, the old


order of training and development has been challenged on many fronts. And these challenges are likely to continue in the foreseeable future.


Challenges to L&D’s current modus operandi


One of the principal challenges has been to a basic premise of L&D – that if we train people well, they will be able to perform the roles and tasks required of them. Many L&D professionals now understand that training is not the universal panacea it was once thought


36 | September 2016 |


to be. A course, a programme or an e-learning module may help resolve some problems and build workforce capability to an extent, when well conceptualised and designed, but in today’s increasingly complex, connected and ever-changing work environment it is unlikely ever to offer the complete solution. One underlying reason for this


is that context is critical for effective learning. We learn best when we learn as close to the context in which that learning is to be used. Taking people away from their workflow for training is highly unlikely to deliver optimum results. A better strategy is to help embed learning within the daily flow of work. In other words, we need to move


from a world where learning and work are seen as separate activities to a world where learning and work are inextricably intertwined – where learning is part of work.


Another underlying reason


that traditional training fails to deliver is the speed and complexity that almost everyone is expected to deal with on a daily basis. If we take a simple measure such as


the breadth of organisational activity, we can see the problem. Year on year, organisations increase the number of their strategic objectives. Some 30 years ago, the average FTSE100 company defined four to five key annual objectives. Today that figure is above 20. Tese objectives trickle down into a greater workload for everyone. Yet many of our organisations’


annual cycles of performance reviews, talent reviews and development planning are still based on the idea that formal, away-from-work training is the primary development tool in their kitbag. Scan almost any organisation’s HR information systems for annual development plans and you’ll still find them over-populated with


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