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Talent Development Professionals Look to the Future With ATD’s Handbook


Mon Mar 14 2022

Talent Development Professionals Look to the Future With ATD’s Handbook

ATD’s Handbook for Training and Talent Development is the premier resource and compendium of everything a training and talent development (TD) professional needs to know to start, build, and navigate a thriving career. Edited by Elaine Biech, the third edition offers 90 percent new content, creating an up-to-date view of the growing roles of talent development professionals, our changing world of work, and the critical need for business alignment. In this Q&A, we talk to Elaine about what folks can expect from the book.

1. The publication of ATD’s Handbook for Training and Talent Development

in 2022 replaces the 2014 second edition. What prompted this third edition?The talent development (TD) field has undergone monumental changes in the last eight years from massive upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, to shifts in labor resources, to developments in technology. Indeed, it has been a transformative eight years since the second edition, and during that time, the TD landscape has changed dramatically. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on unprecedented challenges. TD professionals needed new resources to help them adapt swiftly and successfully. A new edition of the handbook needed to include more focus on talent development and business alignment, blended learning, and the changing roles of TD professionals. The result is this third edition, which provides new and future-oriented guidance and information that all TD professionals need for addressing the ever-evolving development priorities of learners, clients, organizations, and themselves.


To ground TD professionals with a solid foundation, this handbook is aligned with ATD’s Talent Development Capability Model™. Chapter 5 provides a background on how the Capability Model sets standards for the field, helping TD professionals prepare for their own and their organizations’ futures by developing a lifelong learning mindset.

An entire handbook section, “Required Forward-Focused Proficiencies and Attitudes,” focuses on the skills TD professionals will need for the future. L&D leadership and DEI expert Rita Bailey sets the standard in this section and offers a checklist for assessing one’s future readiness, relating her skydiving experience to what our profession is currently experiencing, “change on steroids.” In “The Future Is Closer Than You Think,” talent development and learning leader John Coné urges TD professionals to let go of yesterday’s approaches, to look beyond the concerns of today to prepare for tomorrow. I encourage everyone to read these two luminaries’ viewpoints to gain a perspective of what’s possible for your talent development future.

I am honored to have been invited to edit this third ATD handbook and to have had the opportunity to connect with brilliant TD luminaries such as Ken Blanchard, Tacy Byham, Nancy Duarte, Jean Greaves, Kimo Kippen, Jim Kouzes, Andrew Sobel, Michael Wilkinson, and Jack Zenger among the more than 100 experts who contributed to this volume. The handbook includes 57 chapters and more than 90 downloadable activities.

2. How did the pandemic catapult the changes of the last eight years, and how has that impacted the third edition?

The pandemic catapulted training and TD departments into the future. While the field is always evolving, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 hit TD professionals hard with an unforeseen and extreme urgency to develop new skills, jump start virtual training, adapt and provide creative ways for people to learn, and rethink business models. We pushed ADDIE to its limits. TD professionals became more empathetic, involved learners at deeper levels, and iterated and tested their designs; they used design-thinking skills naturally without adding a label of any sort.

These changes and pressures led to many of the topic choices for the handbook. Topics include a stronger emphasis on DEI, how to make virtual learning work, the different types of hybrid models, and our expanded role in the C-suite. One chapter written by Mhairi Campbell (an award-winning media producer, trainer, and an executive at the BBC) deserves highlighting. In “21st-Century Media Skills: Put Learning Where the Work Is,” Campbell deftly incorporates many of the topics on every TD professional’s mind today: agility, accessibility, innovation, hybrid learning, power of video, bitesize learning, personalized learning, and more.


3. What other goals did you have as you designed the handbook?

It was essential to ATD and me to underscore and reflect diversity and inclusion in this volume. There are whole chapters devoted to DEI and accessibility by Tonya Wilson, Maria Morukian, and Maureen Orey. These topics are mentioned in many other chapters as well.

I was committed to enlisting a diverse group of contributors. Diversity shows up in different cultures, races and ethnicities, ages and generations, genders and sexual orientations, parabilities, and socioeconomic statuses and backgrounds. You will see diversity peek through in seemingly small (but really quite large) ways such as in culturally unique spellings of words. You’ll recognize diversity in the backgrounds of contributors who are not only in the TD profession but also in education, IT, and the corporate world, including Andy Trainor, VP of Walmart US Learning, writing about topics Walmart is passionate about. You’ll hear from the legends in our field such as Jim Kirkpatrick and Bob Pike as well as from first-time ATD authors. The handbook presents perspectives from people at all levels and in different industries.

4. What themes run throughout the handbook?

Several themes run throughout the handbook, including:

  • Be prepared for the future.

  • Gain new skills for new responsibilities.

  • Promote DEI.

  • Stay abreast of the warp speed of change.

  • Ensure your organization’s success.

These themes should be a wake-up call to all of us in talent development.

5. Who is this book for, and how should readers use the book?

The handbook is for everyone in the TD profession, including people who are not in a traditional talent development role. You might be a subject matter expert (SME), a part-time corporate trainer, or a mentor. Whether you are a one-person department or the manager of a large TD department, whether you work for a company of 100 or 10,000, or whether you are in one domestic location or multiple locations across the globe, you’ll find concepts and tools you can and should use.


If you are new to the profession, you’ll learn all the basics of training—ADDIE with a contemporary twist. Those new to the field will want to start with Section III and take a deep dive into foundations and basics, because talent development has so many different paths.

If you’re planning a career in talent development, you will want to learn about the Capability Model, the importance of a growth mindset, and how emotional intelligence (EQ) is related to a TD career: all these topics are addressed in the volume. The handbook is an excellent companion if you are studying for the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD®).

If you are a TD manager, the handbook helps you discover what works and will help your organization take a more flexible, agile, and innovative perspective while developing employees. You may want to start with Elliott Masie’s provocative introduction to Section IV to learn how you can enhance and support talent development. If you are working with SMEs (and who isn’t these days?), I highly recommend Greg Owen-Boger and Dale Ludwig’s chapter on the topic.

While editing this book, I imagined you, the reader, advising me, “Make it practical.” So, we did. The important content is all there so that TD professionals can apply ideas on the job, share content with colleagues, or respond to requests from the C-suite. But most importantly, we made it practical so you can implement this content immediately. For example, in Section II, “Planning a Career in Talent Development,” Bev Kaye provides an action-producing exercise to rate yourself on a list of eight attitudes necessary to excel and thrive as a TD professional. It’s a great place to start. Each author also recommends additional resources so you can dig deeper into their topics. Beyond the handbook, there are more than 90 downloadable tools on the handbook’s website. Check out tools such as Becky Pike Pluth’s “55 Ways to Add Variety to Your Training” or Cindy Huggett and Cynthia Clay’s “Virtual Facilitator Strengths Self-Assessment.”

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About the Editor

Elaine Biech, CPTD® Fellow, is a consultant, facilitator, and author of the Washington Post’s number 1 bestseller, The Art and Science of Training. With four decades of experience and 87 published books, ATD called her “one of the titans of the training industry.” She delights in supporting leaders to execute their vision, building teams to maximize their performance, and guiding organizations to address large-scale change. She is a dedicated lifelong learner who believes that excellence isn’t optional. Elaine is the recipient of numerous professional awards including ATD’s Bliss Award, Torch Award, Staff Partnership Award, and 2020 Distinguished Contributor. She served on ATD’s board of directors and executive board, CCL’s board of governors and executive board, and ISA’s board of directors. She received the WI Women Entrepreneur’s Mentor Award and ISA’s highest awards, the Spirit Award, and Thought Leader Award. As ATD’s first CPTD Fellow, Elaine is a consummate TD professional who has been instrumental in guiding the consulting and TD professions throughout her career.

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About ATD and ATD Press

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD Press publications are written by industry thought leaders and offer anyone who works with adult learners the best practices, academic theory, and guidance necessary to move the profession forward. For more information, visit td.org/books.

ATD’s Handbook for Training and Talent Development

ISBN: 9781953946348 | 960 Pages


To order books from ATD Press, call 800.628.2783.

To schedule an interview with Elaine Biech, please contact Kay Hechler, ATD Press senior marketing manager, at [email protected] or 703.683.8178.

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