No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Parkin Space: Change is the Only Certainty


The drive to implement large-scale enterprise e-learning “solutions” typically leaves trainers, and trainees, with a sense of being left behind, rather like running for a train that is pulling out of a station. Having management, already comfortably aboard, yelling at you to run faster and mind the gap does little to diminish the panicky feeling of impending loss of control.

Training is going through some fundamental conceptual and operational shifts. Not only are new ways emerging to satisfy learning objectives, learners themselves are having to take on new responsibilities. The way companies and individuals perceive personal development, and the path to it, is in flux. Trainers need to be able to exercise some influence over the systemic changes in their organisations, and they need to be equipped to guide and motivate their learners through the transitions.

Preparing for the future is not about taking courses in e-learning authoring. A technical skill-set is less relevant in a learning career than your ability to understand learning and to devise processes and models that can make learning happen better, faster, more relevantly. In the blink of an eye you will be outsourcing most of your technical development, anyway, so do not think that having those skills will make you indispensable. It is more important to have the conceptual skills, the project management skills, and the skills of an agent of change.

Facilitating change, or "change agentry" as it is popularly termed in the US, requires few skills that a competent trainer does not already have. It mainly requires a different attitude to your role and an ability to step back and see the bigger picture. It also requires a willingness to keep on learning, and unlearning, perpetually. Here are some things you can do:

* Try to get comfortable with letting go of established ways of doing things. You can’t see necessary innovations and exploit those opportunities without being able to acknowledge that some current practices are possibly outmoded.

* Never get so arrogant about your knowledge or competence that you refuse to have an open mind. A passion for learning often requires a certain disdain for what you already know.

* View change in learning as cross-functional. Think and communicate in ways that emphasize the big picture, business objectives, and bottom lines. Try to stop yourself, your colleagues, and your management from obsessing on a few details at the expense of a balanced perspective.

* View your role in terms of the corporate vision. It is easy to be distracted by bright shiny objects if you do not have a strong commitment to a clearly shared vision.

* Focus on the outcome of the change rather than the change itself. This should be self explanatory to training people (it is not the course but its impact on performance that matters) but far too often we get hung up on managing and selling features rather than benefits.

* Do not impose change where you can generate a desire for it – develop processes that inspire your learners, your colleagues, and your managers to initiate and create the changes. People will readily buy into change once they have clarified in their own minds what changes are needed and the benefits of making them. (Anyone in training who does not have skills in basic consultative selling should sign up for a course).

* Resist the me-too mentality which pushes you into change just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Be aware of the disastrous consequences that that kind of approach sometimes brought about with e-learning, and learn from past mistakes. Challenge conventional wisdom, especially if you don’t understand it and it seems like the Emperor’s new clothes!

* Learn to understand the dynamics of change. The more familiar you are with how change happens, the less formidable it becomes. A good way to do this is to expose yourself to innovation almost as a habit, preferably by reading outside of your normal field and engaging in discussions with training professionals outside your organization. Join an online discussion forum, get an RSS reader and subscribe to some innovation-focused content.

Ed McCracken, founding CEO of Silicon Graphics was fond of saying that in order to survive change you have to be the one creating the chaos. We all know that the evolution from classroom-based learning to web-enhanced learning is not a one-time event. This is only the beginning of a perpetual evolution process that will accelerate over time, becoming more and more chaotic and complex as it does. If you want to thrive as a training professional, you had better good at being an agent of change.

* Read more of Godfrey's columns at Parkin Space.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!