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How some professionals are really making a difference through learning and development.


For me one of the interesting observations of the last 24 months has been the return of  the 'substantial' training programme. Four (or was it five) years ago as the banks went into melt down our iManage order book became very short term.  Clients were still buying, but it felt quite reactive. Often we were being asked to run interventions at short notice, and those interventions were frequently shorter in duration and perhaps more tactical in application. That was way back then, but now there seems to be a more exciting wind of change blowing through learning and development. 

If our experience is anything to go by, we are seeing much more strategic intent motivating our clients buying behaviours. Typically that seems to manifest itself in more significant training and developer programmes that align themselves to business initiatives as much as individual needs.  Coupled with this we are finding more readiness to engender a learning culture through some form of 70:20:10 approach.  The shorter intervention has not disappeared, rather it seems to have polarised around bite sized style solutions that are part of the supporting blend.  This to me feels like a healthy place for L&D to be.

It would be easy to assume that this is being driven by an need to secure true value from the training budget, but in practice it's seldom as simple as that.  So here are some of the things we've seen that have impressed us about the way L&D teams are working:

Being bold enough to make the case.

It's not an easy thing to put your head above the parapet, it's a bold thing to do, but sometimes great leaders do bold things.  Where L&D professionals step up and begin to make the links between an organisations strategy and operational effectiveness you start to see how value is really delivered.  The good ones are all over the strategy, working out ways in which they can support the vision and direction with a range of very targeted learning interventions. 

Being prepared to make a single way. 

Whats coming here may be an obvious thing to say, but it's far from an easy thing to establish. Organisations that get hold of maverick, independent budget spending, and instead puts a high quality 'company way' together begin to maximise the benefits. Success in this area seems to come when learning solutions really hit the spot with individual needs whilst delivering against strategic goals.   

High levels of involvement.

It’s no accident that some of the best and most exciting programmes we are involved in are well supported by the HR / L&D teams.  Simply put they are just very active; have a high level of interaction with the delegates, seen to take an interest, dropping in, helping out, looking for ways to support the learning etc.  

If there is one benefit from the conditions brought about by the current economic downturn, it’s that much more care is being taken around creating tangible value from the L&D budget.  That’s got to be a good thing for the profession, and one we’ve always supported with our ‘no change - no fee’ approach to learning solutions.  It’s great working with teams and individuals who are determined to go beyond the menu based ‘seen to be doing something’ training portfolio.  Long may the current climate continue! 

Bob Bannister
Download a pdf of this blog here.  
Twitter: @bbbannister @iManage

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