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Where is L&D going?


“Thinking outside the box”, the phrase is now so old hat that it hardly retains any of the frisson of creativity that it once had.  Creativity is an interesting topic and I recently sat and watched a video of Ken Robinson giving a TED talk.  I say that I watched it; it was a film of a man, standing on a stage with a microphone, talking; there wasn’t really anything to see.  It was, however very amusing and very enlightening.  It was “edutainment” of the first degree.

But it wasn’t new. It was filmed in 2006, eight years ago.

This got me thinking about how L&D has evolved and is evolving for the better.  Musing in this I googled Ken Robinson and found this another of his talks.  This one is just as edutaining and just as thought provoking.  Instead of a guy with a mic, it has an animated visual aid to go with it.  The visual supports what he is saying and makes it way more engaging.  It follows a similar theme, four years later, and it actually demonstrates another way in with L&D is evolving for the better.  This video is in the public arena; I found it, not by going to the “training department” and booking on a course, but by googling a question.

Ken Robinson, (sorry, Sir Ken Robinson) is a bit scathing about how the state run education systems of all developed nations are based very much on the needs of industrialisation and are modelled on the manufacturing system. If we were being petty we’d say ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?  He has only ever worked in the public sector!”  But then, let’s remember that, as a university professor and a government advisor on education, he is actually having the gumption to bite the hand that feeds him.

L&D departments used to work exclusively in a ‘manufacturing mode’; the solution to all performance issues was a classroom based training course.  People were sheep-dipped through courses, in a dictated process order, until they reached the exalted level at which they were deemed to be above being trained. 

Most L&D functions now provide “learning at the point of need” support for people as they need it rather than at the diktat of their level in the hierarchy or the diary availability of a course.  E-learning (though often a mini production line in itself) is often available as a self administered solution.  Managers are learning to provide coaching for their staff and many organisations’ knowledge management systems and communities of practice are also available as ways to support performance without providing “training”.  Some L&D functions hardly run any classroom training at all, look at Andrew Jacob’s answer to this question on Any Answers, (

 Yes, L&D has evolved and changed.  It will continue to do so and if Sir Ken keeps doing the talks I for one will keep listening and looking, they make me laugh, they make me think and they teach me things as well.

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