Good Stewardship in the L&D Space – A Short Commentary

I did 6 Tweets this morning on Good Stewardship in an L&D function – in reverse order:

  • Being a good steward in the L&D function means never spending one dollar that isn’t going to show an appropriate return for the shareholder.
  • Being a good steward in the L&D function means investing in your own processes, people and practices for continuous improvement for ROI.
  • Being a good steward in the L&D function means using flexible but effective approaches for meeting the varied needs of your Stakeholders.
  • Being a good steward in the L&D function means being in 100% alignment with the enterprise’s top goals and needs RIGHT NOW!
  • Being a good steward in the L&D function means avoiding fads and focusing on evidence-based practices.
  • Being a good steward of shareholder equity being “plowed back” into the business for L&D development/acquisition = professionalism.

And then I did two “Lessons in Making Lemonade” cartoon strips on the topic. I like the cartoon approach and the ability to expand on that in that format – and then to later plug it all into a Blog Post.

I’ve received several comments back thanking me – so thank you for your feedback.

What got me going was a tweet or two I read this morning as I tried to catch up on a long list of missed Tweets – as it had been quite a while since I closed that page – as I find it slows me down too much with its constant distraction. Worse than fraternity brothers on a study night.

Without being specific – I can again unfortunately/safely conclude that it seems to me that most people in the L&D space are totally devoid of business sense – even if they run their own shop as a learning consultant. I wish I were wrong.

Most people, not all, in that space work for organizations where some person or group of people put THEIR MONEY into the venture – and most likely want their money protected and then grown-improved at levels commensurate with the level of risk they are taking.

Protect and then Improve – is a good watchword phrase. In good times and bad.

Most of the time I attribute what I disagree with to “semantics.” As a former colleague anonymously attributed a quote to his former colleague: It’s not just semantics – it’s always semantics.

Which Learning Context are they writing about I wonder. Who is paying the bill and living with the consequences of good and bad investment decisions in the development of people, formally, informally, or both – a blend?

They seem to be in that Enterprise learning context – and writing about that – but if I am wrong and they were referring to the Personal Learning context – then: nevermind.

But I think they are being business naive. For I could never imagine a situation with my Enterprise clients where I would make the comments they make in such public forums as LinkedIn/ Facebook/ Twitter.

Learning – like breathing – happens all the time. We cannot really control it – we can make it better (more effect and more efficient perhaps) and we can make it poor (and inhibit learning having that audio track reading me the bullets on the screen). And that doesn’t mean it’s good or correct learning either.

But we can guide the learner when needed/when appropriate (was that my investment money we are talking about?) – or we can let them freewheel at “the big learning console of life in the moment with resources galore” (was that my investment money we are talking about?).

The more of a rookie off the street (one end of the continuum of experience) the more Formal. The more of a wizened-old-pro (the other end of that continuum of experience) the more Informal.

And what Formal training/learning I need to make happen for those wizened-old-pros is to “teach them how to learn better” – something Dale Brethower PhD (whom I’ve known for decades from NSPI/ ISPI) worked on decades ago. And then after teaching them that – perhaps get out of their way. Or perhaps I cannot even leave that to chance – I’m thinking of Rob Foshay’s comments – on the video here – about the need to teach top pros in sales/business consulting skills for “ill defined problems” – which I take to be ill defined performance expectations, and how to go about that.

And what Formal Learning I provide should be the results of valid practices – and not current fads touted as the newest thing. Don’t have the text on the screen read to the learner on the audio track. And watch out for generic skills training – for only 15% can learn out of one context and apply it in another – how real/authentic are your advanced organizers, examples and exercises?

Bookend and Embed those with the generic content. Do it beforehand – or in the moment as a Thiagi follower might.

Practice valid Instructional Design (or whatever you call it).

And learn about business decision making for the context you work in. It’s more than a just fiduciary responsibility – although it definitely is that too. It’s also an ethical responsibility.

Who are you/we/me responsible to as we serve our employers or clients? Is it them alone? Or is there a greater set of Stakeholders? I think so. Know them. Know them well.

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