For the last 20 years, maybe longer, Learning and Development has arguably best known for:
“When the going gets tough, it’s time to cut the training budget”.
Today it is different though. With the Internet of Things, it’s making products and services less unique. Organizations are relying on their one true differentiator: People. People are a competitive weapon and organizations that understand this create true differentiation over their competition. Take for example Chick-Fil-A. Sure the food is good, but it’s the consistent experience you get from their PEOPLE that separates them from the other fast food chains.
Knowing the power of people, how do you prove the value of Learning and Development and move it to the center of your organization? Here are 3things you can focus on:
1. Be A Thought Leader.
It’s just not good enough to stand on the sidelines and wait for a play to be called by a VP of Sales, CMO, or CEO. Learning and Development has to become proactive instead of reactive. The only way to do that is to bring new ideas and thought leadership to the organization. One of my favorite ways to do this is a concept called “finding the bright spots” from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. The idea is to take big problems and solve them with small solutions. If Learning and Development can identify big organizations problems and look for individuals or solving or achieving them, there is an opportunity to be a thought leader and bring these small bright spots to the masses.\
2. Be An Innovator.
Innovation and thought leadership go hand in hand. If you are looking for bright spots and bringing new ideas to the organization, you will then have the ability to introduce innovation that aligns with learner demand. Things such as learning platforms, social learning, microlearning, etc. More innovative ideas are happening around learning now more than ever.
3. Execute Flawlessly.
One simple way to do the opposite of being valuable is taking months, if not years, to bring new programs or new technology to bear. I hear it all too often; “Training isn’t relevant” or “That would have been useful last month”. Being able to identify and execute on a learning opportunity in a timely manner is vital if you want to make Learning and Development the center of your organization. Speed, speed, speed! It’s time to get programs and technology to 80% and then perfect it over time. Trying to be perfect prior to an initial roll-out will cause paralysis by analysis and ultimately will drag out timelines and effectiveness.
Make these 3 things a core part of your daily work life and you will make your Learning and Development department more valuable.