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Talent Makes the World Go Round
Monday, May 19, 2014
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I have to play Captain Obvious for a moment: There is a diversity of thoughts and feelings about our recent transition from ASTD to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). I wouldn’t be an honest broker if I didn’t acknowledge that some of these feelings are  strong –on both sides. It’s also important to me that I acknowledge that some of the most powerful of these voices belong to those who design and deliver training—by any other name, trainers. 

One of the recurring questions I have heard is that does the change meantraining is essentially being downplayed or removed from the equation, both literally and theoretically? And I must respond plainly that this is definitely not the case. As Tony Bingham wrote on the blog recently, when we talk about developing talent, we’re speaking specifically about “helping organizations develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities” within their organizations. And I might be slightly biased, but I can’t think of any other group inside this profession that does this more directly, efficiently, and knowledgeably than those who identify themselves as trainers.

That said, there are still many people trying to better wrap their heads around one big, burning question: What is the real, immediate implication now that the T in ATD stands for Talent and not Training (our slice of the L&D pie)? The answer is that it’s up to you. It can mean nothing, and you continue as you always have, or it can mean absolutely everything. Here is why I think the latter is where the real potential for our profession lies. 

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For the last three years, we have been talking about our Communities of Practice, and why they are so critical to our members and to the field. And everyone who has engaged with the L&D Community knows it is about more than the books, events, and blogs that make it ASTD’s largest content segment – it’s about the eye-opening conversations we have on Yammer and during our workshops and conferences. It’s about the thought leaders and contributors who time and again move us to action and encourage us to change for the better. And hopefully, it’s about sending me content recommendation requests or new ideas for projects, and knowing that you’ve been heard by a living, breathing individual. In short, the community is about people. Or, to put it another way, the community thrives because of the talent in it. People = Talent.

So when we brainstorm ways to increase efficiency, develop skills, and improve performance, until robots actually take over the world, we are talking about people. And when we talk about training people, what we are really doing in turn is helping to develop our capable, passionate clients and coworkers achieve their potential, which in turns fuels the success of the organizations they work for. 

Because of trainers, “talent” becomes more than the sum of various skills, efficiencies, and performance metrics. Because of trainers, organizations are able to directly impact how its people work, learn, and live each day. 

Training professionals have been central to our mission from the very beginning more than 70 years ago. And our transition to ATD represents a brand new opportunity for our community of trainers to join us once again on the ground floor of something amazing. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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