2016 has been an interesting year for the world of Learning and Development. We have seen major changes in the workplace of the L&D industry, more and more people starting their own business, independent consultants going back on the pay roll, more and more technology providers emerging and people struggling to find their way in the immense amount of new ways of learning and opportunities in our field. Discussions at conferences went from “Will we still exist in a couple of years as a department/profession” to “teach me, I want to serve the business better”. I have both been an observer, as well as an active participant in what was happening this year in our field. I keep being so fascinated by our profession. And not just fascinated, for those of you who know me, you know that I want to help the L&D profession to develop itself.
So for the last couple of weeks, since we are moving towards the end of the year, I always like to think back on what the year has brought us. What can we learn and how can I as Pink Coat and as international partner of the LPI keep supporting our profession best. And to be honest, the above is just the tip of the iceberg. So it is really hard to say what my conclusion is over the last year and what would be the biggest lessons learned. Maybe there is so much going on that I don’t have one conclusion. But I also don’t want to leave you with nothing 😉 So I do have two words for L&D and I think that will be just perfect as a closing statement on 2016 and lessons learned to start the new year with.
First of all: Analysis. We SO lack doing a proper analysis! Everywhere I go I see this happening. In conversations, in the course L&D consultancy that I teach at ICM, everywhere I meet and talk to L&D professionals we seriously lack doing an analysis before designing the learning interventions. Learning professionals jump to conclusions very quickly and come up with a solution easily. The question is whether that solution is the right solution to the problem. Often unfortunately it isn’t. Either we don’t do the analyses properly, because we lack time or because we need to push back to management and find that difficult. Last week Pink Coat organized a webinar together with A New Spring to discuss “having a better conversation with your client” and the topic was just that. I focused mostly on learning providers in this talk. Learning providers have a solution already in place that makes it even easier to come up with a solution. Sometimes they ask why a client wants a particular training or learning program, but mostly they ask the question because they want to sell their service. Not to analyze the problem. And let me tell you it doesn’t work. Not in the long run. If you don’t do a proper analysis and deliver what the client is asking for (or as Nigel Harrison calls it: you are an order taker) you are not helping your business in the long run. If you analyze the problem, really find out what the client needs and then help them find a solution (whether that is what you offer or not) you will build a relationship and that means you will still be in business for many years to come. And yes that sometimes means not taking an assignment, and sometimes that means losing money. But if you are thinking on the short term eventually you will me losing even more money. I have found that L&D professionals have, in their careers, never learned methods or ways of doing analyses so let me help you with that. I often use these three methodologies, depending on clients or assignments and they have never failed me:
- 8 fields model of Kessels and Smith: http://www.kessels-smit.be/files/Instrument_The_eight_fields.pdf
- Performance consulting by Nigel Harrison: https://www.thelpi.org/certification/performance-consultancy/
Right now I am getting up skilled on the 5 moments of needs which gives a whole new view on the analysis phase: http://www.applysynergies.com
Which brings me to my next point:
My second word is self development. I know this is a bold statement, and I won’t hide behind the fact that I am Dutch and get to be blunt. L&D professionals don’t know how to develop themselves AND don’t make the time to do so. To make it even more ironic we don’t even do the analysis for ourselves. I have seen so many examples of L&D people struggling with specific professional development questions and not being able to find the right solution for themselves or going to the wrong ones. Or not even looking for one, because they are too busy. How can someone in L&D be too busy for their own development? And how do you expect your colleagues and employees to make time for their own development then? I spoke to a learning manager and she said she wanted to know more about performance support. So she drove 1,5 hours to a hospital (completely different industry from hers) where they presented a case on how they implemented an electronic performance support system that was far to expensive for her organization and the hospital couldn’t tell her what methodology they used or why they had chosen this system. She said it was such a wasted afternoon and she didn’t learn anything on performance support. I am not saying don’t go to showcases or providers because sometimes that does help you and your development but don’t jump into it before doing research! Is this really the best way to spend your time on your own development. And it got me thinking – maybe the L&D professional is making time to spend on their own development, but they are not spending it wisely and end up not having time for the things that will actually help them develop. So please make a learning plan for 2017 for yourself too, do a proper analysis on what you need and how you can be up skilled best. And if you want to see how you are standing with your capabilities compared to other professionals, there are tools for that: https://www.thelpi.org/resources/capability-map/
So if you are still looking to make your new years resolution, dear L&D professional, think of my two words: Analysis and Self Development and I am absolutely certain you will be an even better L&D professional than you already are.
Extra note to the Dutch L&D community:
I would like to close with a message specifically to the Dutch L&D community. STOP reinventing the wheel. If I have learned and seen one thing over the last year specifically for NL is that being a small country and with years of being international entrepreneurs we have forgotten to utilize what is already out there. We are constantly reinventing what other people have already done for us. With better research and years of experience. There are so many technologies and methodologies out there. There is often not a need to start your own. Please first look at what the L&D community has to offer internationally and if you can’t tell the forest for the threes (ja dat vertaalt zich naar: als je door de bomen het bos niet kan zien) turn to people that are independent. Contact people that are not tied to a learning provider or technology provider to help you do that first analysis. And this is absolutely not a way to advertise Pink Coat. I have met so many amazing independent consultants in the last year and they are eager to help you find your way in that forest. And if you are still not happy and want something you have created yourself – at least you know what’s out there and what makes yours better!