L&D’s Historical Misalignment

The majority of my views on L&D’s misalignment and alignment – can be credited to my former business partner (1982-1997), the late Ray Svenson, whom I met while I was an employee at Motorola and he was one of the consultants that Bill Wiggenhorn brought in (besides Geary Rummer and Neil Rackham) to help get MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center – aligned to what Rummler called the CBIs – the Critical Business Issues.

So my focus, even before Motorola, was not on T&D or L&D or Learning – it was on the ENDS of those MEANS: PERFORMANCE back on the job. Which is one of the reasons I tend to label our Target Audience members as “learners/Performers” to keep the Performance thing top of mind. And if I can reduce or eliminate Learning (memorization) and just enable Performance with Guidance – all the better.

But I digress.

Our role is – and always has been – to address those CBIs and improve Performance – via Job Aids and Training, or what’s known today as Performance Support & Learning Experiences, or known today more simply as Resources and Courses. And the measure(s) of success – were and are still – demonstrable positive Impacts in the Measures already in place.

I had heard and read the complaints back in the day – starting back in 1979 – that the Training function (now the Learning function) was too often working on the “low hanging fruit” – generally on generic Topics with both Face Validity and Mass Appeal.

If it wasn’t generic Topics – it was Behaviors – but behaviors without an authentic context – for the majority of the “Learners.” Something that Tom Gilbert referred to as the Cult of Behavior in his classic book, Human Competence (1978).

As a consultant, working with Ray Svenson (I soon became his informal business partner and then his formal business partner a few years later) I did some process design for a client in the mid-1980s, and began framing their L&D Processes to define the work itself, and the roles & responsibilities of the staff of my client, and their Scorecard/Dashboard of KPIs – Key Process Indicators.

Years after that I began to write about it – and started what would be my 3rd book (my 2nd solo book) before I was quite finished with the 2nd book (my 1st solo book).

In my quarterly newsletter for the Winter 1998/1999 – I “overhung the marketplace” with a teaser of my framework – which went through several major iterations in that writing effort from the original work from the mid-1980s.

I was using a “clockface” to frame the 12 sub-systems with their 47 processes – as I had begun the habit of drawing that on flip chart paper and whiteboards so that I could draw arrows from one to another – and show an Output from one – as an Input to one or more other Processes.

But one thing that was consistent in the evolving models was that at “12 O’Clock High (borrowed from the movie and TV show – as I liked what it might suggest) was The Governance & Advisory System & Processes – that Ray Svenson had helped Bill Wiggenhorn put into place at MTEC in 1981.

For my first 9 months at MTEC, I skip-level reported to Bill, and as my boss had yet to be hired in, I was responsible for participating in the Advisory Council meetings with all of the top leaders/managers from Manufacturing, Materials, and Purchasing. There I saw Ray Svenson’s model in action.

Ray had created such a model before becoming a consultant when he led the Strategic Planning efforts at the Bell System Center for Technical Education in Lisle Illinois. Ray was a former Bell Labs engineer, who had worked at AT&T headquarters in the Strategic Planning organization prior to his stint at BSCTE.

My 2001 Book

This book presented the 47 Processes and was intended as both a Diagnostic tool and a Design tool.

My 2011 Book

This version positioned the 47 Processes within a Curriculum Manager’s role.

My 2022 Book

This book focuses on some of those Processes – and especially those that are instrumental in Alignment with leadership and then architecting L&D for greater returns on the investments.

For I still believe that L&D across the board – has failed to get themselves aligned with what Rummler called the CBIs – the Critical Business Issues.

Some Unsolicited Feedback

See this 2022 book – here.

See all of my books – here.

All of my books, 20+, except for the first from back in 1994, are available as Kindles and Paperbacks, and the newer books from 2020 and on are also available now as Hardbacks.


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