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The Changed Role of L&D: Evolve Now or Become Extinct

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
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Grow and evolve, or become extinct. This was the basic message from Donald H. Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute and thought leader in the L&D arena, during an executive seminar in London on January 31. He based this on some intriguing research he had conducted on the skills L&D professionals need to have versus the ones that they actually possess. He found that people have great capability around the most popular skill for L&D professionals—presentation skills. However, he also concluded that this skill is quickly becoming irrelevant. In today’s world, people have access to information at their fingertips; they don’t need a gatekeeper to dole out information in bits and pieces during a formal presentation. What Donald found was that the skills L&D professional do need are the ones they are the least skilled with, such as supporting communities of practice or data interpretation. (Learn more about Donald’s research during a free webinar on March 19 where he will co-present with Randy Emelo.)

Given that employees no longer need to go through an information gatekeeper to find the answer, it doesn’t make sense for L&D professionals to continue to focus on formal training and content development and delivery. Instead, practitioners should begin to evolve their roles forward and find ways to efficiently enable knowledge to flow freely and unencumbered throughout their organizations.

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Donald contends that L&D’s new role will revolve around the following four concepts:

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Find – the right information from the myriad information that exists. 
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Filter – through the fire hose of information that we are bombarded with daily, and decide what is useful and relevant to your organization. 
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Interpret – what’s useful from what is not; decide where you need new information, where the information sources are located in your company, etc. 
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Share – the right and relevant information with the appropriate people. 

When I heard him share these four concepts, my thoughts immediately latched onto how collaborative learning and knowledge sharing software can play a critical role in helping L&D professionals address these areas. For example, collaborative learning software can help employees find the knowledge they are seeking from knowledge sources in your organization by filtering who is capable, willing and available to share their related experience. Additionally, business intelligence tools within the software can allow you to interpret the intangible knowledge sharing and social learning that occur within your organization with tangible metrics and reports. Talk about powerful!

We live in a completely interconnected and global world of omnipresent information and knowledge sharing via technology. It’s time to embrace these technological changes and apply them to the work you do, enabling the free flow of information and ideas. Your role in L&D can become elevated and celebrated as you bring about change to the way your organization shares knowledge. You don’t have to become extinct. It is within your power to become irreplaceable. 

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About the Author
Randy Emelo is the founder and chief strategist at River, a Denver-based company that builds mentoring and social learning software. He has more than 25 years of experience in management, training, and leadership development, and is a prolific author, speaker, and thought leader on topics related to collaboration, mentoring, social learning, and talent development.

Throughout the years, Randy has embarked on a military career with the U.S. Navy, led leadership development work with nonprofits in the Americas, and helped Fortune 500 companies build mentoring and learning cultures in their organizations.

Randy holds a master’s degree in organizational design and effectiveness from Fielding Graduate University (formerly The Fielding Institute) in Santa Barbara, CA. Randy’s book, Modern Mentoring, is available now from ATD Press. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter @remelo.

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