Towards the Connected L&D Department

In my previous post I shared a chart I have been using to demonstrate what it means for the L&D function to move  from a “packaging” role to one that helps to support and “scaffold” learning in the flow of daily work.  I have had a few questions asking how other organisations are moving forward in these areas, so in this (revised) chart below I have colour-coded the areas to show the different type of activity I am seeing.


Firstly, the red area is the traditional L&D operating area – designing, delivering and managing instruction (ie face-to-face training and e-learning)

The orange area is where I am now seeing quite  a lot of interest and activity; that is expanding the traditional L&D area into “packaging” performance support, and also moving into more “scaffolded”  and social approaches to formal learning, and also examples of self-service professional learning portals for on-demand access to a range of opportunities.

The blue area is the new area of “social collaboration”, where a number of forward-thinking L&D departments are already playing a major role. Here they are working in partnership with teams and groups to help them share knowledge, experience and resources as a natural part and process of their daily work. Some are also helping to build the new personal and social skills to help their people become effective Connected Workers.

I am often asked why L&D departments should become involved in this new blue area. There are many good reasons for this. There’s the fact that working is changing, and that organizational learning needs to change too. But this blue area is where the “real” learning takes place in the workplace – in the workflow informally and  socially. Up to recently, L&D hasn’t been able to support this type of learning in any easy way, but now there are huge opportunities to make a significant impact on the business, and in doing so measure the success of initiatives and efforts in meaningful terms like performance improvements and behavioural changes.

And what is the cost of not getting involved? Well, this blue area is ripe for the picking, so if L&D doesn’t get involved, others will do so – whether it be IT, Business Ops, or something else. But what’s more as face-to-face training goes out of fashion, and e-learning is outsourced – as is happening to Training Depts on a regular basis now – then it avoids the risk of the L&D team being shut down.  A Connected L&D Dept will have a significantly enhanced role in the organisation and will become an indispensable function.

So how do you get started? Well, this blue area of work requires a very different mindset and approach from the traditional L&D role. It also requires a set of new capabilities and skills. And it involves using and supporting a range of new social technologies rather than dedicated “learning technologies”.

Harold Jarche and I have been advising organisations as well as leading open sessions on this for a number of years now, and we are about to offer a range of new and updated activities and workshops, which we will announce here shortly.  But in the meantime, if you want to find out more about what it involves , take a look at our Connected Worker site and in particular our Connected L&D Department initiative.

Other posts in this series

1 - The changing role of L&D: from “packaging” to “scaffolding” plus “social capability building”

3 - Instructional design: from “packaging” to “scaffolding”

4 - Supporting self-managed team learning in the organisation

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