Where’s L&D headed in 2016? 3 MAJOR Influences

Road Ahead

It’s officially time to share your “Where’s L&D headed in 2016” media! Several industry folks have already dropped their articles, blog posts, and podcasts with suggestions of where our profession will go during the next 12 months. Here’s one. Here’s another. And here. Then here. Etc. Google “L&D 2016,” and you’ll find more submissions as we approach the official calendar digit change.

I’m not going to weigh in on other’s predictions – some of which I agree with and some I don’t. I’m also not going to throw in my own guesses, as my fortune teller costume is in the shop. Rather, I would like to briefly explore the 3 MAJOR influences I believe will influence the trajectory of our field during the next year and beyond. These ideas aren’t new, as I don’t expect a huge factor to emerge suddenly from the depths to revolutionize the way L&D works. Rather, I believe we will continue to see the world of corporate learning and performance nudged – no, let’s make that SHOVED –  towards an inevitable future by continued external influences.

How can L&D evolve to not just deal with such influences but leverage them to promote an improved future for workplace learning and performance?


User Enablement

People already don’t need L&D to get better at their jobs. How much more can our value to the individual employee be reduced? Let’s see in 2016! 🙁

As consumer tech continues to explode at an unrelenting pace, employees will gain greater, easier access to information – including the resources and opportunities necessary to drive their own professional development. L&D is (unfortunately) never on the leading edge of tech – as exemplified by our continued inability to figure out mobile and social tools. And even more impact tech – including everyday VR and AR – are on the immediate horizon. While we have been playing with archaic HRIS tech and formal instructional design techniques …

  • Google has defined what it means to access information.
  • Facebook and Instagram have set the standard for sharing.
  • YouTube and Netflix continue to mold video development and consumption behaviors.
  • People want all of their toys to be as usable as Android and iOS devices.

The consumer tech faucet will NEVER turn off. That’s one solid prediction I can make. How far this tech will evolve in the next year, and will we adapt to leverage the tools and (more importantly) resulting user behaviors to benefit workplace performance and improve our value to the individual employee?


Functional Complexity

Work isn’t necessarily getting “harder” across the board. After all, most of us don’t descend into coal mines after breakfast every morning. However, knowledge work is more complex than ever. Whether your organization remains strictly hierarchical or regularly leverages networks via a matrix setup, employees are expected to collaborate with more and more people to complete complicated tasks with minimal resources.

As work gets even more complex, the concept of a centralized L&D function that can support even the most basic employee needs at scale is astonishingly unrealistic. We can’t understand the moving target of individual employee needs yet alone create traditional learning solutions that will retain their value as the workplace continues to change in such an unpredictable way.

So what do we do? Should we try to keep up, or should we pivot to focus on more predictable factors that influence how work gets done? What technology can help us provide scaleable solutions that can make a difference? How can we retain our value to not just the larger organization but also the individual employee who has specific knowledge and skill needs?


Virtual Work

There’s a difference between a company that operates in multiple countries and a “global organization.” Signs point to an increase in truly global organizations that run “lean” and maximize their worldwide resources. At the same time, hierarchies are giving way to matrixes and cross-functional teams that match functional experts from different departments, nations, and cultures. We talked functional complexity … Now let’s add the realities of space and time.

Most organizations continue to rely on email and conference calls to enable remote teams. To put it mildly – these tools SUCK! Companies waste millions in time and effort each year due to their dated approaches to virtual collaboration. Unfortunately, many don’t notice because they don’t realize collaboration can be so much simpler/better!

Not only will L&D be expected to help global employees improve their collaboration skills, our audience will become more virtual than ever. This will further challenge the value of our learning and performance solutions. We know eLearning isn’t the answer. Our virtual delivery tools and skills are largely unrefined. We definitely don’t have the $$ to fly trainers and employees around to deliver ILT. How will we contend with a workplace that may not include a physical place in the VERY near future?

Have these factors influenced your L&D work to date? Do you believe they will continue to be major influences in 2016? What other factors will influence your work during the next 12 – 24 months?

Where’s L&D headed in 2016? 3 MAJOR Influences

by JD Dillon time to read: 3 min