Monday, 1 November 2010

What Ails Learning & Development?

The economic turmoil of the last couple of years has had a significant effect on the executive learning and development landscape. A recent Duke Corporate Education study suggests three primary forces that have changed the shape of L&D: budget cuts that meant significantly fewer available resources, travel restrictions that led to a search for new ways to learn, and improvements in technology that offered new methods for achieving learning. While the findings may not come as a surprise to professionals, it has taken the industry time, in both the supply and the demand end, to adapt to the new reality. While the tools and technology for hybrid learning models have been available, learning and development professionals had walked away because of their apparent inefficiencies. The last few years have seen dramatic improvements in technology but the fraternity still shows a certain inertia and skepticism in embracing them. In the post recession world it will be difficult for providers to survive if they fail to adapt new technologies into their design and delivery methodologies. The other area in which we have seen a lot of planning and little execution is in the aligning of business to learning objectives. Almost everyone that we spoke to regarding executive training at both the consumer end and the provider end acknowledges the importance of corporate training activities to be aligned to business needs, but a framework which would help organisations design interventions to achieve objectives seems elusive to most. In some organisations we see that there is participation from the drivers of business at the intervention design stage, but the engagement dilutes at the delivery stage.

The onus for creating a learning environment and culture that is both development and objective oriented is with the executive leadership of every organisation. That people are an organisation’s most important resource is today beyond debate, and yet when it comes to people development, more often than not we see the responsibility being abdicated to the HR or training functions. HR and training are possibly the best suited to facilitate and execute the intervention, but only business leaders can extract the best ROI on training. In this issue we have engaged with the entire spectrum of stakeholders in the learning and development space; business leaders, management consultants, service providers, trainers, and training managers, from across the globe. I believe you will find the articles and interviews to be insightful and interesting.

We have an array of exciting issues coming up to mark the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. We will end the year with “The Hall of Fame 2010” where we honour leaders who have most impacted businesses and people in their area of work. This year we have expanded the scope of our Hall of Fame categories to include business driving functions like sales and finance, in recognition of the fact that in a diverse, decentralised and yet global economy, all organisational functions have significant impact on both business and human capital. As always, I look forward to receiving suggestions from you that would make your magazine more impactful and insightful. Happy Reading.

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