At the 2015 CIPD L&D Show, one of the Learning Arena presentations sponsored by MOL explored the practical steps that L&D professionals need to take to support organisations in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world.
Mary Fraser and Diane Allen, MOL Tutors, shared their view that there is an opportunity for L&D professionals in smoothing the edges of change and to become a catalyst or ‘Performance Consultants’ in their organisation, turning Volatility into Vision, Uncertainty into Understanding, Complexity into Clarity and Ambiguity into Agility.
Drawing on the recent research report by the CIPD and the consultancy “Towards Maturity” entitled “L&D: Evolving roles, enhancing skills” (CIPD, April 2015), the presentation outlined an analytical framework and evidence from case studies to help provide a way forward.
The aim of the session was to challenge the thinking of the L&D professional and this report provided the perfect springboard. In developing a practical toolkit, L&D practitioners need to review four key areas both in terms of how their function operates as well as how their own capabilities measure up.
- Alignment and resources – Delegates were asked “are you agile?”, “do you add value?” and “ how do you best organise your L&D function?” to stimulate thinking in this area.
- Evolution of roles and responsibilities – Members of the audience were asked a series of challenging questions around use of data and environmental scanning. A key challenge is around “What is needed to enable the move from Learning Delivery to Performance Consultancy?”
- Building skills and capabilities – As L&D professionals, we are known for developing others ahead of ourselves, leading to key skills gaps such as social and online learning.
- Driving change – as L&D professionals, the prime aim should be to help your employees make sense of change. Being aware of future developments using robust evidence, data and analytical thinking are vital if L&D professionals are to effectively make sense of change and prioritise action.
Using priority areas as a jumping off point, delegates were asked to rate their current levels of preparation both personally and operationally.
Towards the end of the session, a voting tool (available at www.mentimeter.com) was used to gauge the skills gaps of the audience.
The audience were given the link to cast their votes via their mobiles on a single question “What is the single most important challenge to overcome?”
The voting mechanism gives instant feedback and within a minute, 43 of the audience had cast their votes.
It was no real surprise that 26% of the audience felt that their most important challenge was ‘Using social media effectively’. Social media is with us and the signs are, it is here to stay for some years yet.
A close second at 23% those who voted felt their challenge was ‘on line or blended learning delivery’.
This one was a bit surprising as online learning has been in our L&D world for some years. Something to explore further in future presentations.
‘Marketing and Stakeholder engagement’ with ‘Programme evaluation’ came next, with both receiving a 14% each.
These are key areas to ensure L&D professionals have the data to back up plans and get the essential buy in needed. In addition, the data from learning evaluations will help the L&D function conduct effective internal marketing by singing their success from the rooftops.
‘Business planning’ received an interesting 9%, inferring that more of the audience were successfully working on planning their L&D programmes to fit in with the business.
The session concluded with an overview of the need to be a visionary, to create and innovate whilst communicating effectively. Now more than ever, the VUCA world requires L&D professionals to strive for results and persevere no matter what, whilst all the while loving learning and keeping curious.