I would like to think I have a pretty broad perspective. In fact if I were to read back through my performance management documents from the past I think I would find some comments that at times my perspective is too broad and what is required is a little focus…
I must therefore admit to being quietly shocked when at the CIPD’s HRD12 conference in London last week, Sue Round, Director of L&D for British Gas, opened her presentation with a slide that is most easily summed up as geopolitical context. She cited in her context the Arab spring and the ensuing ‘end of deference’, the rise of China as a global economy and the move from West to East and quoted President Obama’s line that America was “leading from behind”. She used this to signpost the significant change that is happening globally at present.
I may have missed the segue but it felt quite a bump back down to the smaller picture to then be discussing management development, 70/20/10 learning and the 9-box model. All valid stuff and reassuring to people like me that what we are doing is in line with ‘the big boys’. However, in reflecting on the session it did strike me as odd that this context was presented and not explored – but then it’s ‘only’ L&D surely?
I am not one to diminish what we try and do in organisations (there’s enough people doing that for me) and anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that my ego is alive and well but when it comes down to it surely what we about is developing knowledge, skills and behaviours in the context of the organisational strategy? That could be as simple as improving excel skills or as complex as supporting to next generation of leaders in developing themselves but it’s unless you are defining L&D strategy for the UN it is unlikely the geopolitical drivers discussed here are going to be making any kind of appearance in your 12/13 objectives.
Without doubt there are some amongst us who will face the challenges presented by say the shift of power and labour from West to East but it will be driven by organisation level decisions to react to those changes and not from L&D in my opinion. At the end of the day L&D is there to increase the capability of the organisation to deliver its strategic goals and surely this is about returning value to the shareholder (or stakeholder) and to anyone outside L&D that is all about pounds, shilling and pence? Or maybe there’s another perspective on value….but more about that tomorrow!