The future of the Learning and Development Profession – An extract from an e-book by Curious Lion. The Learning Culture Officer. April 2022
The role of an L&D professional is tough. You're constantly at the whim of the needs of the business, yet you never have time to conduct the needs analysis you know you must do. Management thinks training is the top-down creation of events and courses that will magically fix real business issues.
You are left grappling with how to measure and tie the outcomes of these efforts to real business issues. Your priorities include building capability academies, cleaning up and integrating your learning tech ecosystem, and building a skills taxonomy to tie it all together. Yet you are trapped in a cycle of creating and pushing out content. A cycle of dusting off what you did last year, painting over the ugly parts, and rolling it out again for more than it’s worth. You just don't have time to reinvent the wheel.
You so desperately want to leave the legacy of a learning culture in which everyone in your organisation embraces the opportunities you provide. Opportunities to learn new mental models. Opportunities to take deliberate action using new ways of thinking. Opportunities to reflect on the lessons they learn in their everyday work. You want to leave the legacy of a culture of continuous learning.
If only you had the time.
What if I told you, it was possible to create a culture of continuous learning in the time you do have? What if I told you this was already happening? There are companies in which employees are integrating work and learning. Where employees seek out learning opportunities based on self-assessments of what they need. Where new learning opportunities are provided in areas they didn’t know existed. Where L&D provides access to the tools, data, and personalized analysis to offer clear learning pathways for every individual to choose from. Employees at these companies see themselves as lifelong learners.
They hungrily consume knowledge from books, videos, podcasts, and courses. They deliberately reflect on what they've learned and instinctively apply it to their daily work. Employees at these companies don't learn from the transfer of information, they learn by transforming themselves.
They learn from each other. They learn from experts, both internal and external to the organisation. They learn from the experienced guidance of facilitators, their peers in learning cohorts. They fall over themselves to be volunteer experts and facilitators. To share their knowledge and experience with others. They feel pride, they gain stature and they stay longer. They grow the internal talent pool of the company.
Building this learning system requires shared vision, shared assumptions, shared stories and shared
- A SHARED VISION is an answer to the question, what do we want to create? As a company. As a culture. As a way of going about our work. A Shared Vision is a vivid picture of the future you want to create together. It is more than an idea. It’s a force in people’s hearts. It’s aspirational and compelling enough to acquire the support of people inside and outside the organization. It’s palpable. People begin to see it as if it already exists.
- SHARED ASSUMPTIONS are invented, discovered, or developed by a group of people as a set of norms for how to act. The work of cultivating a learning culture involves gaining an understanding of what assumptions you already make as a company. An example of an assumption could be, “It is ok to speak my mind when I disagree with someone”. The unique Shared Assumptions of your company reflect your status quo. Your Shared Vision is your shining future state. The gap between these two is your Learning Journey.
- This is where SHARED STORIES come in. As humans, we are storytellers. We resonate at our core with stories. Shared Stories in the context of your learning culture represent the positioning, framing, and narratives that foster commitment rather than compliance. Shared Stories inspire action.
- SHARED EXPERIENCES are the arenas in which the action takes place. Teams are the fundamental learning units in companies. We need each other to act. We need each other to learn. Shared Experiences bring people together intentionally to engage in dialogue (which is different from discussion) around common challenges, using a common language.
The expectations of the role of the L&D professional have exceeded the importance given to it in current organisations. Something must change. There are companies integrating work and learning, elevating the role of the L&D professional to a new role we are calling The Learning Culture Officer. Your company already has a learning culture whether you’ve thought about it or not. The way forward, therefore, won’t require you to create something out of nothing. You can breathe a sigh of relief. What it does involve is gaining an understanding of the learning culture already in place, and then shaping it, guiding it, developing it, according to the vision you want as a company.
The New L&D Team is led by a Learning Culture Officer. The Learning Culture Officer ties together rewards, incentives, rules, and programs for knowledge sharing using agile design and delivery principles. They innovate around employee experience, talent attraction, hybrid work, and multigenerational career paths.
But this team can’t do everything. Responsibility for change sits not only with L&D but with leadership and line management too. Everyone takes ownership. Leadership buy-in to the learning culture shows that learning is valued. As a Learning Culture Officer with a system for learning and oversight of HR’s Center of Excellence for Skills, you immediately raise your profile in your company. You’re driving real business outcomes, after all.
Being able to demonstrate ROI on your efforts, you put yourself in a position of leverage. You’re able to negotiate promotions or better packages. You’ll be on the radar of the top high-growth companies looking to develop their competitive advantage through the transformation of their learning culture.
You’ll build a community around you, allowing you to amplify your impact. You’ll be seen as a mentor to many. You’ll be seen as a leader wherever you choose to apply your talents in cultivating a high performing learning culture.
To exchange ideas and gain more insight on this topic, contact Marlene Burden per email [email protected]