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What is L&D’s role and who is our customer?

Blog posts | 02.03.2017

Steve Lowenthal

CEO - Kineo US at Kineo US

We're no stranger to industry trends constantly changing in the Learning and Development space. Now, we’re noticing a shift in the demands that companies are placing on their Learning & Development organisation, especially in the last couple years.

In the past, however, we’ve seen L&D being asked to serve three masters:

  • Functional or Line-of-Business Business Leaders:
    Business leaders want to improve their results, and they want L&D’s help to ensure their teams have the capabilities they require to do so. Can we, for example, help the sales team raise average deal size? Can we help the service team increase First-Time-Right?

  • VP, Compliance:
    We want to make sure the organisation plays by the rules and avoids even the appearance of potential infractions. Can we give everyone a dose of what is and what is not ok?

  • VP, Talent Development:
    We want to ensure we have an abundant talent pipeline. Once we have a way of assuming that Fred over there in R&D shows promise to become a great solutions consultant, do we have a way of getting him the supporting skills he may require to make the shift?

To help answer these questions while shifting our focus to current L&D trends, we need to consider some of the best practices in balancing our options. Historically, we’ve seen most L&D organisations respond to this by “doing the best we can with that required compliance work” and “focusing on driving those business results.” All too often, the talent pipeline has been neglected, in large part because the needs there have been so hard to pin down and, even when we can do that, our ability to serve up the right content at the right time has been limited.

In today’s world, there’s an explosion of interest in development. It’s what millennials say they care about most from their jobs. Talent shortages are becoming a hotspot issue for many organisations. And there are dozens—if not hundreds—of new suppliers bringing powerful new ways to the market to support that elusive goal of getting the right support to the right person at the right time—in a way that feels helpful, not like a hard sell.

All that said, we wonder whether in the rush to refocus on talent development, too many L&D organisations are losing their traditional focus on directly supporting functional and LOB leaders. After all, L&D has sometimes had difficulty showing results there. Are we stepping back too much from that traditional “center of the plate” mission as L&D moves with new rigor to support the talent pipeline?

What are you seeing? How does your L&D organisation balance the various types of clients you support?

Steve Lowenthal

CEO - Kineo US at Kineo US

Steve Lowenthal has over 15 years of experience in Learning Technologies in consultancy, sales and management roles. He's a regular speaker at US conferences and events on trends in LMS, elearning and technology.