Evolving Roles, Enhancing Skills CIPD Research Report April 2015

Before launching my own business, Wondershift, I spent the better part of my career as a leader in the L&D and OD space in Media, and it remains important to me to keep up with the shifts and expectations of the L&D/OD Leader.  The L&D Evolving Roles, Enhancing Skills, CIPD Research Report from April 2015 offered food for thought.   Here is my summary based on the report with my own additions of how to ensure you and your teams are A+ players in the People Profession.

Fiercely choose the best. There is no room to afford for B players these days. As Simon Watt from Mattel so nicely mapped out, “you need people who can bridge the gap between ‘world-class’ OD and everyday commercial business.”  Add in confidence and good common sense and you may just have a winner. Know your criteria matrix, make the time to enlist people from the business in your hiring process, and make wise decisions.

Figure out the trends relevant for you and your business.  There are many trends these days in the learning space. Some will pass. Some will stick.  The question is how best to determine how long you can expect the analytics for each trend to remain accurate. If you are making decisions based on trends that are changing rapidly you may be making decisions that will have no impact now or in the future.  Be knowledgeable and aware of trends.  Beware of trends. Create platforms for discussion with your teams, leaders and stakeholders, and extrapolate the impact to your business should the trends that catch your eye increase.  Practice ‘what if…’ scenario planning so that you are ready and proactive.

Fully engage in your own capability and skill development. Dr. Seuss was spot on when he said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” If you are going to be a multifaceted and versatile expert in your field then start expanding your world.  Read. Intensely observe others. Ask questions.  Gather your toolkit.  Use models and create your own. Build your internal and external network. Your ability to be a commercially savvy, great partner to the business who can understand the root cause of an issue and recommend the right solutions relies on your depth of knowledge and your ability to see things from different perspectives. This does not happen overnight.

Facilitate & make connections. As an L&D or OD professional you need a wide and varied network inside and outside your organisation to truly understand business needs.  In addition, your next move may be to simply facilitate a connection to accelerate a solution.  The beauty of your role is that you are likely to have a layer of insight into more of the business than the average employee.  Pay attention to what you hear.  Seek opportunities and use your power to connect people from different lines of business, different parts of the world, different levels in the company.  

Focus on outcomes and impact. It is all well and good to do lots of things. Except if you are doing lots of things that have no real result.  As the article mentions, any successful development results in shift.  The desired shift should be clear from the onset when you begin your contracting and consulting with your internal client/stakeholder.  If this is not clear, not only will it be hard to measure your success, but also what is the point of doing it in the first place.  Scale back on doing less to get more.  Do fewer with more meaning and impact.  Be brave enough to say no when you need to.

Form platforms for innovation and new thinking to happen. I love what the Ministry of Defense did with the formation of their Innovation Cell to bring together 3 distinct disciplines to establish a vision of what success looks like, and to recommend routes on how best people could learn to look ahead and create the time to think.  These are the platforms to continue.  It may be three people. It may be ten. The key is to pose real business challenges to an eclectic cut of people from across the business that can contribute their expertise in a collective and collaborative way.  This is not just about throwing people in a room.  There is planning and variables to consider including a business sponsor, a secondary platform for sharing recommendations to decision makers, expected outcomes, budget and time considerations.  Do not let these be barriers, take the lead and start.

Find ways to collect meaningful data, and analyse it for impact. I’ve worked with a lot of companies who love to collect data. Some of it is up to date, some is not.  Some of it is used, some is not.  Some of it is relevant and some is not.  There is the formal collection of data before, during after a program or event, or during ‘exit’ interview, or at performance review time, etc.  Then there is the informal data that is being offered to us daily whether we realise it or not.  These are the coffee conversations you overhear in the cue, the emails you receive when something goes right or wrong, the body language in the back of the room.  How are these tracked to look for patterns.  Are they?  Do they need to be?

Fool around with new names for your department.  Perhaps it is time for a refresh.  L&D is getting old, HR is way old news, OD seems to have been lost a bit.  How about calling yourself the OIL TEAM (Organisational Impact Learning) or the OP TEAM (organisational performance team) or BP2  (Brilliant people = business performance).  Go on, have a play and see what sticks.