Opinion: L&D is in deep doo doo.

December 13, 2015

Serious trouble. Difficulty. Deep doo doo. Why do I think this? Here’s just a sampling.

This: The next shooting is happening soon. This online course isn’t helping. The Washington Post, by Dan Zak. December 3, 2015.

Quote>>>”Mass shootings, in the parlance of Human Resources. Part of work. Part of life. America, 2015.” – Dan Zak

A reporter notes his experience taking a Homeland Security / FEMA online course called “Active Shooter: What You Can Do.” It’s a printable, one-hour self-paced course with T/F questions (which most people could easily answer without taking the course) and narrated “video” presentations with photos/text/transcript. There is a final exam and links to supplemental content. The course is typical of the type of courses one creates using rapid eLearning development tools. Stock photos are predictable –keys in doors, a woman cowering behind a desk, fist bumps for working together, etc.  There are many statements that are obligatory: i.e., “Call 911 when it is safe to do so!” (Gee, thanks. I would not have thought of that  but for this course.) I’m not being irreverent on the topic, the fact that we need a course because we (in the US) have so many active shooter incidents is appalling and tragic, but I am being irreverent about the online course. While I imagine the course is part of a larger plan for the organization–real drills, planning, etc., what irks me is that this >>read/listen to narrated text with stock photos/click next/take an exam/read some more<< model might be the only contribution L&D made or paid someone else to make. The way I see it, L&D consistently under-delivers–the curse of developing “easy” compliance training. It bleeds to other areas. If I’m right, L&D is in trouble. I do apologize for singling out this one course but they are a dime a dozen. 

This: Align L&D to the Broader Organization, Bersin by Deloitte (my new employer) by Dani Johnson. December 3, 2015.

Quote>>>”…business leadership has completely lost confidence in L&D.” – Dani Johnson

Dani Johnson, VP, Learning & Development Research, writes about hearing how “L&D is not keeping up with the needs of the business, how employees are turning to outside sources to spend their developmental hours, and how business leadership has completely lost confidence in L&D. She says L&D, as a function, is in crisis mode. Dani has some great observations and advice for organizations to get on the right track (it’s all about alignment).

And this: On alignment and more…an eLearning Guild – Adobe Systems study I co-wrote with Sharon Vipond before leaving the eLearning Guild revealed some dismal findings.

Many organization say they are failing to meet their learning challenges…

  • 25% Unable to justify their current learning investment
  • 41% Unable to tie learning outcomes and activities to their business objectives
  • 52% Unable to keep their learners fully engaged and motivated to actively participate in learning
  • 67% Unable to determine the impact of learning on their employee’s performance

What other industries would say these percentage are acceptable. They’re not.


  • David Glow

    Agree 100%. The one thing I see in L&D more than other depts is encroachment on our craft. If mid-level managers piped in about a marketing plan as much as they did on L&D designs, I suspect results would be impacted the same.

    I am not saying L&D is blameless (they are a huge part of the issue- many not even knowing beyond the basics of tools in our craft, and still nurturing long-disproven myths like learning styles), but I do see our craft being heavily influenced adversely by other depts.

    And, perhaps the largest issue is not giving the right amount of time to develop good resources, or adequate time for employees to develop.

  • http://janet.clarey.com Janet

    All so true. Thanks David.

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