Looking Into The Future Of Learning And Development

Looking Into The Future Of Learning And Development
Summary: While there’s pressure to keep up with the fast pace of the digital change, there’s never been a better time for L&D. Here is why.

The Future Of Learning And Development: Be A Consultant For Your Internal Client

For the purposes of Kineo’s Learning Insights 2018: This Time It’s Personal report, we asked both interviewees and online survey participants what had gone well for them in the previous year. And why it had gone particularly well. The answers were as varied as you’d expect, but a theme kept cropping up in the ‘why’ answer: stronger collaboration between L&D and the rest of the business.

Learning Insights 2018: This Time It’s Personal
Check the insight, real-life stories, challenges, and successes collected from interviews and a survey with 200 L&D leaders across the globe.

We heard that projects are generally more successful if there has been a closer collaboration with the ‘internal client’. And that this stronger working relationship has stemmed from a deeper trust and understanding on both sides from the outset.

The L&D function requires full buy-in, trust, and disclosure about the aims of a project – and would like to be involved as early in the process as possible to be as effective as possible. As one interviewee said:

We’re trying to shift from being order-takers to seeing what’s coming down the pipeline and being better consultants.

There’s far more value in having the time to consult with internal clients, listen to their challenges, and present considered solutions rather than being asked at the last minute to fulfill a training need.

Of course, trust and respect must be earned and our interviewees are seeking to do that in many ways, two of which stood out. The first is by learning more about their wider business – its strategy, direction of travel, broad objectives, and how each team or function will contribute towards those aims. The word ‘culture’ cropped up very frequently – understanding the culture the business is aiming to cultivate and helping colleagues work towards that.

With this knowledge comes a greater degree of credibility – we don’t only understand how to solve your L&D challenges, we understand why. As an interviewee said:

If I’m just repeating learning theory and don’t understand their challenges, I don’t have any credibility.

To frame why a particular piece of learning content or blended program will help to address a particular challenge is more effective and raises the professionalism of the L&D function.

The second way to gain trust is to demonstrate results. One interviewee said his aim is:

To create learning solutions to empower people, but even more importantly to have the data to prove the solution actually improved performance.

Without this data, it really is hard to prove the worth of what you’ve delivered or proposed. That’s particularly important when the number one barrier to getting something new adopted is budget and the number one support requirement for new initiatives is buy-in from senior leaders. To get that buy-in and that budget assigned, a little evidence of success will go a long way. Can you measure all of your learning and its outcomes? We work with our partners at HT2Labs to explore how a Learning Record Store can create a single point of reporting for learning and performance, and how xAPI can help you connect all of your systems together.

You can make a really high-quality solution, but without understanding the learner’s present state or having an insight into the effect of the learning, what’s the point?

To get the full picture of L&D’s consulting role, we come full circle to our first theme – it really is all about the learner. It’s not just about understanding the larger business requirements. To deliver solutions that make a difference you’ll also need to know what individuals need and how they are going to use it. One interviewee described her role as “understanding job requirements, what their key performance indicators are, and, most importantly, their biggest challenges in their workplace."

It’s the same question we encountered earlier: “What’s the one thing we could provide to help you do your job?" And if you can deliver on that… welcome to a whole new world of trust, buy-in, and love—yes, love—for L&D!

What Does The Modern L&D Professional Look Like?

We take a look at the skills and styles our interviewees use every day in their new-world L&D roles:

  • The Business Consultant
    Adds value by asking the right questions and providing suitable solutions for her internal clients. Understands the business challenges and the wider context for L&D.
  • The Market Researcher
    Finds out what his customers really want. Asks learners about what would really make a difference for them. Checks out what other organizations are doing within his sector.
  • The Digital Producer
    Whips up a quick in-house video, PDF checklist, or illustration so that she can respond quickly to smaller L&D requirements.
  • The Translator
    Makes sure her learning content is suitable for employees across the globe. Enlists the help of local colleagues on the ground to translate and contextualize.
  • The Curator
    Seeks out the best existing content—from inside or outside the business—and makes it easy for learners to find and consume.
  • The Educator
    Keeps an eye on his end goal: making sure employees in his business can learn something they need or be enabled to do their job well.

Final Thoughts

It’s an exciting time to be in Learning and Development. While there’s certainly pressure to keep up with the fast pace of business and digital change, there’s never been a better time to have, and demonstrate, a positive impact on performance. And that’s great for L&D.

Our HR, learning, and business systems are connected by data about our employees, their needs, and performance: and with that comes insight into how we can make learning more relevant and impactful for them, and for the business. Personalized experiences informed by this data, and supported by the right technology, will help improve engagement and retention.

The more we can integrate with our employees’ workflow and their lives, the more we’re likely to become an ‘essential invisible’ part of how they do their job well.

The success of any business relies on engaged, effective people who are fully able to do their job – and to support others in theirs. That’s well worth the time and investment.