Article: The L&D function is dead, long live L&D!

Learning & Development

The L&D function is dead, long live L&D!

Le mort saisit le vif, meaning- ‘The King is dead, long live The King’, refers to how sovereignty occurs instantaneously. That while the King is dead, the kingship lives.
The L&D function is dead, long live L&D!

This phrase has a particular significance to the way learning & development (L&D) CoE is evolving  around the world. It is the death of L&D as we know it and it’s the birth of a unique era where skill  development, high tech leadership learning and learning on-the- go, will reign supreme! 

I am writing in regards to the news which is about the acquisition of EdCast- a learning experience platform, by Cornerstone, a Learning Management System. Why this is big news is because corporate learning is getting integrated into one big solution, so that L&D organisations and employees can ‘connect the dots’  of personal and professional development. Upskilling employees has become the single biggest challenge for organisations. The World Economic Forum’s report predicts that by 2025, half of all employees around the world will need reskilling and that number doesn’t include all the people who are currently not in employment. Am also reading about how Byju’s, a tutoring app (valued at $21.42 Billion) has become a  game changer in education for children. So, clearly from the corporate world to the world of schools and tuition, things have changed so much in the sphere of education.  

What does this mean for the enterprise learning space where the workforce of tomorrow is learning? How  are things going to transform? What must the L&D CoE do to adapt itself to these changes? What about the leaders? Answers to  these and other questions are here. But first it’s time for a story. 

It’s the leap year of 2028. It’s also the second year of work for Maya, a graduate from one of the premier  colleges. Her degree is in accounting, literature, and mass communications- making her a fine candidate  for a sales role in this Fintech company. Today is a very ‘normal’ day, just a bunch of client meetings. Right  now, she’s heading off to her third client meeting of the day. She has her jacket on, make-up in place and  then goes to grab her VR headset. Before that, her AI Assistant gives her a complete profile of the client  she is meeting and asks her if she’d like a print-out. She asks her chatbot, Sarah, about the personal details  of the client. On her calendar, she has slotted a half hour prep time. She is going to take 2 short courses  on ‘Loan Processing’ and ‘Cryptocurrency’- something her client is heavily investing into. It helps that the  courses are from MIT. And are both available for no charge. 

Embedded in this story is a potential scenario of the future of work. Also hidden in it, is the way employees  will consume learning and development initiatives.

I,me, myself

Like entertainment, learning too has become personal. A family no longer congregates to see that one movie one Saturday night. Today, each family member is watching a  different movie at a different time. The tastes are unique, the experience is personal! Similarly,  learners look for a personalised learning system that adjusts the pedagogy, curriculum, and learning  environment for them to meet their learning needs and preferences. The goal is to have a learning  system that can dynamically adapt itself based on a learner’s characteristics and needs to provide  personalised learning. Big data and analytics can do this today, by adapting to the individual’s  learning preferences. This will hugely increase learner motivation and engagement in learning  activities thereby making learning effective. For this to happen, organisations need to step back,  think purposefully about what and how they want to re-skill and begin (even if they don’t perfect)  the process of transforming their learning management systems. 

The search for purpose

Interestingly, the future of work is about the search for purpose. No,  purpose doesn’t refer to some ‘lofty, save-the-world’ kind of views. It’s about finding meaning in  the work that one does. In the same vein, the focus of learning will be on helping people find their  purpose. Sometimes this purpose will come from gaining mastery, sometimes it will come from  looking deeper into the impact of the work one is doing and sometimes it comes from feeling  valued for the contribution. Learning in the next few years will transform into building learning  experiences that ‘move you’. It will be about helping you gain deeper self-awareness and truly  working to your strengths. 

Encounters in the metaverse

Soon the metaverse will be upon us. From learning leadership skills  to building effective sales strategies, employee learning will not happen in the physical classroom, but  in the metaverse. Imagine a course in negotiation skills, which takes you to this fictitious client’s  office and places you in the middle of a conversation where a big price is being negotiated.  Imagine now that, soon after this encounter in the metaverse, you switch to the real world, where  you speak to a CEO of the fictitious company to get real time feedback on how you performed. And  then a few days later, you get graded on how you are doing in negotiations. This is the future of  learning. From metaverse to physical to the ‘real world’- there is a seamless learning trajectory  creating immersive learning experiences. 

The transient workforce

Finally, the biggest challenge and opportunity for corporate learning will be the shifty workforce of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’. How much does one invest in training for  such a workforce? And what role will ethics, culture and values play? Will the L&D function  continue to do onboarding programs when the tenure of the employee is 3 months or less? That’s a big challenge. But the opportunity lies in doing the onboarding program so well and providing a  seamless story for the employee, such that they actually stay with the organisation much longer and happier! 

Like someone said- ‘The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity’. Clearly, the L&D function is  sitting on the cusp of a huge transformation wave. The best thing to do is to ride the wave or better still  ‘create’ your own waves in the ocean. Like W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne, authors of Blue Ocean strategy  write, “Create. Don't Compete.”

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Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership, #HybridWorkplace

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