Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How has Learning & Development changed?

At Sundial Group we have been asking ourselves how L&D will change following the global financial crisis.

A friend in IACC (International Association of Conference Centres) pointed me in the direction of an excellent piece of research by Duke Corporate Education, 'Learning and Development in 2011, A Focus on the Future'.

The report points to a general reassessment of business strategy to drive efficiency and management focus. The researchers found;
  • Values and goals of the business will drive the L&D activities more than ever
  • Focus on the capabilities required to succeed
  • L&D joining forces with HR and talent development
  • Investment targeted at groups who are strategically connected to the company's goals
  • Preparing leaders for a more connected and challenging world.
At the same time all business costs are under the microscope and Learning & Development is not immune. Budget cuts require L&D to be done with significantly fewer resources. Travel restrictions contribute additional impetus to finding new ways to enable employees to learn. Improvements in technology, for so long an unfulfilled promise, seem to be offering new, cost-effective methods of achieving learning.

However, the strategic shift from individual competency to organisational capabilities has resulted in a team centred approach which is hard to fit into the new, lower costs, less travel, more technology drivers.

The "Perfect Storm" of 2008/2009 will be remembered as a difficult and challenging time. The results will be long-lasting and the L&D profession will not go back to the old patterns and habits. To quote from the Duke study -

"These difficulties may have done L&D a great favour by focusing us on organisational capabilities that matter, by clarifying how and when we demonstrate value, by re-energising our search for achieving learning in the workplace, by opening our eyes to what learning technology can accomplish today, and by demanding so much more of how we think about our strategies and the learning activities that they produce."

So how might this affect Sundial?

Team working is already with us. Many organisations are capitalising on the technology that enables remote working, knowledge sharing and talent pooling. The rules of behaviour, sharing of values and goals and development of team spirit will be key competencies of successful teams - real or virtual. Organisations will need to develop leadership at every level as we move away from the traditional structures of management and control.

In my view only some of the technology can be used for team based learning and leadership development because human nature demands 'real' interaction to cement experience and build trust.

When team based learning and leadership development does take place there will be heightened awareness of the effect of the learning environment. The ability of a venue to add value will be critical and organisations will demand a far deeper level of understanding from their host. I believe we are ready to rise to this challenge.

Sundial Group is also responding to these changes by developing a division to deliver cost effective experiential learning which enables successful team dynamics and leadership using our well established Teamscapes activities. Indeed for one of our key clients we will be delivering Teamscapes away from our own venues for the first time as part of their national team and leadership development. Its exciting times.

Please do contact me if you would like more information. I would also welcome your comments.

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