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Becky Norman


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“The traditional competencies required for L&D are important but no longer sufficient,” – Donald H Taylor


The Learning and Performance Institute recently re-launched its Capability Map, a self-assessment tool for L&D professionals to benchmark and develop their skills. We caught up with Donald H Taylor, Chairman of the LPI, to find out more about the Map and how it can support L&D as the industry undergoes transformation.

What was the ethos behind developing the Capability Map?

The aim of LPI Capability Map is to give L&D professionals a view of the skills needed to run an L&D function in the 21st Century. The traditional competencies required for L&D – all based around course creation and classroom delivery – are important, but no longer sufficient.

How does the LPI Capability Map differ from other L&D competency frameworks?

The team that created the LPI Capability Map worked to nine principles. The first, and most important, was ‘Usefulness - Does it help L&D people do their jobs better today?’

To be useful, a competency framework must be accurate, helpful and capable of being adopted easily. It is this last point where the LPI Capability Map is different. Without adoption, competency frameworks are an empty, academic exercise.

To aid adoption, the LPI’s Map strikes a balance between simplicity and complexity. The content is rich, and well structured, but it is not surrounded by much of what makes other models difficult to adopt.

The LPI’s map is not based on a process model, or a view of how L&D should be delivered, so it doesn’t require organisations to adapt how they already work. Nor is it tied to a schedule of qualifications, requiring individuals to buy training to reach a certain standard.

We need to be able to partner with others to really excel.

It is, however, the product of extensive consultation and feedback since its original launch in 2012, and – crucially – we are committed to three things that will continue to support its usefulness and enhance its likelihood of adoption.

First, we are committed to a fairly intense process of maintenance, with the next refresh of the Map due in 2020. This will enable us to keep the Map current, and ensure its applicability.

Second, the LPI is committed to keeping the Capability Map free for any individual to use, globally, via our online tool. You don’t have to be a member of the Institute, you just need to have access to the internet.

Third, we plan not only to maintain the LPI Capability Map, but to expand and enhance what it refers and links to, and the value it can bring to individuals and organisations. The current form is a great foundation, and is already being widely adopted, but it is only the beginning.

As the training industry undergoes transformation, L&D practitioners need to develop new skills to remain relevant. How can the LPI Capability Map support them in this age of uncertainty?

The LPI Capability Map will help individuals recognise how they can develop their own skills to grow their careers. It can also help teams decided where they need to develop as a group.

It does this by clearly defining the 25 key skills for the L&D department of the 21st Century, and making it clear what behaviours are associated with four levels against each of those skills, from Foundational to Proficient on to Expert and Strategic.

Addressing the workforce’s ever-widening digital and soft skills gap is a key priority for the learning industry today. But do L&D professionals need to spend more time focusing on their own development needs if they’re going to overcome this huge business challenge?

As I travel the world, talking to L&D professionals, three things become clear. First, this is a global challenge. Second, yes, we need to spend far more time developing ourselves and third, we can’t do it all by ourselves.

It’s clear that data analytics has, from nowhere, become something of great importance to the profession.

But there’s a kicker. While it’s crucial to develop a more highly skilled, more able L&D profession, if we look at some of today’s key areas – AI, data analytics, marketing – an L&D professional will never be as adept at these as someone entirely focused on them.

So although we need to have some proficiency in these areas, we also need to be able to partner with others to really excel.

How do you foresee the L&D space progressing in the upcoming year?

Things don’t change much in L&D in one year, but looking at the results of my annual L&D Global Sentiment Survey, it’s clear that data analytics has, from nowhere, become something of great importance to the profession.

Anyone interested in getting ahead in L&D this year and beyond would be well advised to shift from our traditional obsession with creating courses and move towards trying to understand what data tells us about how people are learning and performing at work.

What advice would you give to L&D professionals who are looking to keep ahead of the curve in 2019?

Get out of the department. I don’t mean leave the profession, but step away from the desk where you do your work, and go and do the other part of your work – meet other people in L&D from outside your organisation, meet other people from outside L&D in your own workplace. Ask them all what they’re working on, the challenges they’re facing, and what’s exciting them. You’ll get an immense amount from it to guide your work when you step back to your desk.

You’ll also find that your perspective is widened and you’ll want to think about where you want to go in the L&D profession. When that happens, go and assess yourself against the LPI Capability Map and see what your next steps might be.


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Becky Norman

Managing Editor

Read more from Becky Norman

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