This is the concluding article in Mike Collins's trilogy focusing on the changing role and importance of evaluation for Learning & Development. You can read the first and second articles by clicking here and here.
The changing role of L&D
Putting the titular question to one side for a moment, this series has looked at the changing role of L&D and the skills and attitudes needed by modern learning professionals. The sheer variety of roles now associated with L&D brings with it a fresh outlook, offering organisations numerous options in the way they approach and support workplace learning, knowledge sharing and performance improvement.
The tools and frameworks that we L&D professionals have at our disposal are changing and evolving to better reflect the world we live in. The New World Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model is a great example of how a trusted model has been revolutionised to meet the demands of today’s fast moving and change-hungry organisations. However, if we continue doing what we’ve always done, using our tools like we’ve always used them, we’ll always get what we’ve always got, so we must change or we will go the way of the dinosaurs.
Exciting times ahead
It’s an exciting time to be part of L&D and as organisational demands change so must we. We need to be flexible, above and beyond the confines of any physical or virtual training room, we need to make a step change in our skill sets so we are 'insight driven leaders in our organisations and not just order takers.'
Irrespective of new roles, new skills and new attitudes, if we as L&D professionals continue to operate in isolation then our work - no matter how positive, innovative or useful - will have limited impact. We are all in the change business and regardless of how we ourselves change, we must also work in partnership with those around us at every level of the business to ensure we are as effective as possible as driving performance improvement.
If you agree people are an organisation's greatest asset then ensuring people have the right knowledge, skills and behaviours to do the job in hand is vital. We must help people to become better at learning and providing them with the resources and tools to help them do their jobs better.
Influencing the business strategy
Understanding your business’s strategic objectives and being able to shape and influence how skills and behaviours need to change to achieve these objectives is even more important. Perhaps this is an organisation's greatest opportunity or in fact its biggest challenge.
The latest 2014 Towards Maturity report shows that this is STILL a problem and there is still a huge disconnect between L&D activities and an alignment between business objectives. This lack of synergy and inability to effectively measure and legitimately identify and quantify the outcomes of learning initiatives continues to undermine our very existence.
Mike Collins is head of learning solutions at DPG plc