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Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Need for Change


Recently, many challenges have been laid down at the door of Learning and Development (L&D) as far as some much needed change is concerned. However, even if you agree with these challenges, meeting and achieving them is going to be something else altogether.

Every day on Twitter I read so many tweets about the need for a stunning amount of change in L&D. Judging by what people are saying, change in large corporates, public sector organisations, small and medium enterprises, higher education, further education, as well as secondary and primary education is required. Yes, it’s right across the board and, as I value greatly these people’s views, a tremendous challenge for all of us in L&D – perhaps the largest one most of us have ever faced.

Why?
My assessment on why this need for change has come about is because so many of our L&D policies, strategies and processes have not moved with the times, or with the technology which we now have at our disposal, and are still firmly based in the last century.
When looking back over the first decade of the 21st Century only a hermit could be justified in saying that there has been little change. In the course of 10 years all of us, no matter where we are located in the world, have seen an exponential amount of change which is already having a direct impact on all aspects of our lives, including our work and our job roles.
For all of us working in any area of L&D, there is now considerable pressure being brought upon us to get ‘with it’ and to drag L&D into the 21st Century. The cost of not doing so isn’t something we should even contemplate.

What?
In a nutshell we need to free-up and open-up L&D in all areas.
In the corporate/public sector world L&D needs to be representative of and support the goals of the organisation: training needs to change both in style and approach; development needs to change with informal learning recognized and rewarded; and, people need to be given the technology and tools to help them learn better and faster.
In education teachers and lecturers need to be freed-up to help their students to learn in ways which suit the latter, allowing them to use a range of learning processes, technologies, and tools.

How?
This is the ‘six million dollar’ question, although the cost will probably run into billions of dollars! But it’s not just about cost, it’s also about attitude – a resolve and a belief that change is required as well as the ability to effect that change.
There will always be those who resist change, initially at least, but unless those people who have the resolve and belief are allowed to start effecting this much-needed change, it will never happen. Those who resist initially will either retire or leave the profession or, more positively, will join in when they see and experience all the benefits that undoubtedly will result.

The learner
For me, it’s all about those who learn. They always need to be our focus and not us, complete with our preferences and prejudices. We are here to help people to learn and to develop as human beings. The omens are good with a growing groundswell of L&D professionals not only clamouring for change but also working extremely hard to bring it about.
The most important action for us is to remove the strait-jackets, which time and other people have imposed on learners, in order to liberate them. This has to be the starting point and then all we have to do is to deliver what learners need and want.

So what challenges are you facing in L&D right now – do please tell and share?