I hate to be the Friedrich Nietzsche of OD; however, the question begs to be asked, is learning and development dead? It is because the economy killed it. The need for statistically valid organizational diagnostics did not go away, nor did the necessity for strong coaching and professional development programs. The recession decimated OD and Learning and Development departments. So, the next question that begs to be asked is what are companies going to do? If they are smart, they will pay attention to the recent trends to reduce costs, retain talent, and maximize their return on their TO&D investment.
I’ve been compiling market trends and here’s what I’ve found:
Cost saving OD Trends- Companies are wising up and using learning management systems to populate their intranet, and to engage employees in just in time training. To ensure the transfer of learning, a pre-assessment must be in place, followed by post evaluation diagnostics. Sounding the horn of common sense, learning initiatives should be followed with coaching, evaluation, and more coaching. How else can a company do an efficacious return on investment study. If CEOs continue to whine about how their training dollars are being spent, they have to match their groan with the dollars to support an organizational solution that has teeth and takes hold.
Organization Development professionals are constantly being asked to justify their existence. Is this a good thing? I think perhaps it is. On the other hand, not all outcomes can be measured by metrics alone. Often, organization improvement outcomes are qualitative. Customer service departments receive fewer complaint calls. Janice, the pain in the tush manager, isn’t such a pain anymore, and people now like working for her. Plant floor employees are generating stronger productivity, and product is arriving to stores on time.
Are outcomes like the above mentioned consistently tied to return on investment studies? Not always.
As I continued my research I came across two great articles that discuss trends that include the value of learning management systems and the road to economic recovery:
5 Key trends- Learning Management Systems have been around for a long time. They have their place. They reduce the cost of travel, content development and the cost of paying the price of live content delivery. However, just in time desk top learning solutions lack the human touch. Therefore, I favor blended learning solutions.
Bob Nelson's thoughts on the road to recovery- I love this article and added it to this post because it encapsulates hope for our future, and is packed with great ideas. We have to lace our bad news exclamations with good news and solutions that are solid, and are backed by research. Ok, I’m a bit of a research dweeb, but it’s how I was trained.
I remember when I was in graduate school, one of the adjunct professors exclaimed, “training is dead.” The entire class was crest-fallen. But then, we woke up, and realized that if OD dies it’s because we killed it by not justifying our value, and the worth we provide to the organization. That’s the bottom line. Even though OD departments have been decimated, and the roads are littered with unemployed OD and Learning and Development Professionals, we have to bear in mind that the need for the work we do has not gone away. It will never go away. The trends and research are starting to show that much of what OD practitioners do will be outsourced. This creates a new opportunity for the OD Profession. And as Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.”