Learning & Development as a profession has been on quite a journey over the last ten years. With humble beginnings as the “training department” who was largely responsible for the roll-out of classroom training, to what it is now, but the question is, what is it now? L&D has been stretched so far that it is difficult to define the role.
As I spend more time working with L&D teams, I find that much of their work is concentrated on Business Operations Knowledge Support (BOKS). This incorporates compliance training and tracking, providing Just-In-Time learning opportunities to solve a problem and provisioning knowledge support tools like wikis. While all of this is very important for a business, it is not, for me at least, true learning and development.
Learning and Development is a long term investment in people. It is helping people understand opportunities, their potential and facilitate them in realizing their long term potential. There is no doubt that it is difficult and time-consuming but it is also extremely rewarding to work in an area that encompasses coaching and leadership development. Most work is now knowledge work and much of the value generated by an organization is based on their people, therefore, L&D is one of the most strategic roles within the organization.
L&D departments have long argued that they ‘deserve’ a seat at the table. The table is only concerned with who can contribute to the company’s growth from a strategic perspective. L&D can only do this if it concentrates on the strategic element of people’s development and on the organization’s growth objectives. For this reason, we need to drop BOKS from L&D and leave that to a more operationally focused business unit. This will allow L&D to contribute to the organization’s strategy, then they can take their seat at the table