Did the Corporate University kill the Learning and Development department?

A lot of interesting stuff in the LPI’s report on the first results from L&D professionals mapping their skills to their new capability profiles.

For me, the big question which emerges seems to be if the trend for ‘corporate universities’ (CU)/’academies’/’business schools’/etc. have ultimately restricted L&D down a path they will struggle to come out of.  Yes, the CU focus can be argued as having created rigor in course development and deployment, often decreasing the reliance on third party training providers or off-the-shelf content, but they have in places restricted L&D to a fairly narrow subset of the the parent organization’s focus. The LPI summary suggesting the results show L&D professionals “lack the breadth of skill required”.

Where L&D is disparate from other support functions (including HR, IT and KM functions) there is immediately a risk of disconnect when it comes to actually building an overall framework for employee development and increased work efficiency.

Of course this isn’t necessarily a problem, yes you might need a wakeup call but, in some organizations delivering/developing trainings might be just what is needed. It might be that the organization needs what LPI results would suggest, at least historically, the respondents can supply.

The challenge from the LPI and other benchmarking would be for these professionals to reflect and consider if their team really offers what their organization needs and, perhaps more importantly if they do not, is another department at least filling the gaps. As an L&D professional you might want a role that we can see as the “21st Century profession” but other professionals are similarly looking at expanding responsibilities so I slightly question if the “Training Ghetto” is inevitably a bad thing.

Just as an academic university is only as good as its student support (including libraries, IT and facilities) perhaps the challenge now for corporate universities is recognizing how to create the collegiate atmosphere around courses (social learning) and user generated content management (library services).  That information architecture and developing communities/collaborative learning are identified as weaknesses in the LPI results then it would seem to be an area L&D departments need to improve in or at least leverage other teams in their organizations.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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