Seeking new frontiers in L&D


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way….

The immortal lines of Charles Dickens as he opened “A Tale of Two Cities”.

Those opening lines seem so very appropriate to the state of Learning & Development in the world right now. The world is changing at a pace that can mildly be described as ‘too rapid for comfort’.

The disruption caused by technology on different cultures, the way we lead our lives, our connections with people, our aspirations and the power to express our thoughts in the mode of sharing are so fundamentally different from what we have ever seen before.

At the core of this are people and their lives. In society and in corporate settings.

So whats different in the corporate world? Several aspects!  The four that come to my mind now are these.

a. Organisations are different – Hierarchies are creaking and breaking. The paradigm of engagement is changing. Command and control is giving way to the importance of ‘discretionary effort’. Yet at another level the patience for the long term is slowly beginning to be usurped by success in the ‘next quarter’.

b. Leadership – Transparency. Sustainability. Agility. Ethical Standards. Comfort with social technologies. Comfort with flat organisations with an absolute anchor on authenticity. Suddenly there is a draft of new expectations from every leader. Current and more importantly, the future will bear unmistakable imprints of this time.

c. Technology shifts – Mobile, social technologies and cloud computing has broken down walls and has given way to innumerable ways of sharing and learning on a scale that is not only unprecedented but has also lead personal choices to prevail over collective mandates

d. Employee mindsets have moved. From a time where employees were dependent on the organisations for devices, connectivity and gateways to knowledge have had a massive change with democratisation of all the vectors.

These obviously provide enough of imperative to massive change that is required in the Learning & Development teams. Some questions include

  • How do we move from (Information Rich + interaction Poor) ways of learning to (Interaction Rich + contextual relevance + democratized many to many) modes of learning.
  • How do we move from ‘interventions’ to ‘embedding of learning in work’. How should jobs be designed for the new world?
  • What new mindsets must be embedded into the DNA of organisations in the new world, for which, what new ways of thinking must CLOs and L&D teams imbibe?

Questions of this ilk need greater discussion and the collaborative conscience and mindshare of a diverse array of minds which is precisely what we will attempt at #IndiaHRChat (better explained here)

Now #IndiaHRChat on Twitter, hosted by Dr.Tanvi Gautam has, within a short time, evolved into a wonderful medium for such discussions to flourish. Previous hosts have included Dr.Anand Pillai, Yash Mahadick, Sairee, ElangoGurprriet Siingh. The chat logs are all available for you to check out the the multifaceted views that emerge.

The discussion on titled “L&D : The Next Frontier is scheduled for 7.00 PM IST, 28th Aug 2013 and am a guest in the program. Please do join in. Wherever you are.

The conversations will be for an live for 60 minutes and hopefully will continue for sometime in your workplaces thereafter!  Thequestions that we will discuss answers about

1. How is learning & development different today than it was 5 years ago ?

2. Where does the ultimate ownership of workforce learning lie – employer/employee/both ?

3. What should be the mandate & outcomes that L&D teams should strive for ?

4. What does it take for a CLO and his/her team to become and stay successful ?

5. What is coming in the way of L&D reaching the next frontier ?

6. What is the biggest challenge in organizations adopting more ‘social’ forms of learning

7.  What is your biggest take away from today’s chat ? – 

To make the best use of our time together, it would be wonderful if you could make time to go over the stuff below to set the context for our conversation. A pre-read of sorts! 🙂

This is also available as a Internet Time Alliance Whitepaper in PDF format here. Irrespective of jumping into the chat or otherwise, I recommend you make the time to read this stuff and reflect!

This is a work of Jane Hart and the Internet Time Alliance, a set of people who have been at the bleeding edge of leading the L&D space to the new frontier. I read this piece a couple of years ago and believe most aspects of this work will continue to be relevant for some time to come.

So there, #IndiaHRChat sure looks like its going to be an interesting time. It would be wonderful to hear your views on the questions. If for some reason you aren’t going to be there, do leave a comment here or a tweet to me ( @_kavi)  and I will tweet it out to the group on your behalf.

Learning & Development has the opportunity to create meaningful difference to the future of organisations and if you extend it, to societies as well. To make that difference, every single view will count and your participation, whatever you do for a living, will be important.  Would be lovely to see you  then.

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