L&D Aligning with TM

Whether you are a Talent Management practitioner, or a Learning & Development practitioner, you would have the question about how these two should align. The question is one of how one can enable the other. To answer this, one must explore the source of L&D initiatives, with which L&D initiatives must be aligned. This source is higher people performance. If we take this as the premise, then it stands to reason that L&D must be strongly aligned with TM strategy.

People performance is defined based on the performance management framework the organization would have in place. Broadly, the levels of this framework (in a theoretical scenarion, and many organizations differ widely from this) could be seen here, and one can also see the levels and ways in which L&D can align with, and enable this TM strategy.

As you can see, the inputs from L&D initiatives at different levels need to be aligned to the requirements of that level, and the learning objectives which need to be met at that level.

At the level of KCAs, where the need is to build behaviourial capability, the training requirement primarily is for soft-skills, the details of which are based typically on a combination of role and the level in the hierarchy of the employee (commonly called band).

At the employee-goals level, the requirements are either in terms of organization needs from the employee, or in terms of employee aspirations, and these are primarily met in the form of technical training, or in form of training designed to meet the needs of succession or progression. From the perspective of succession or progression, organizations usually have programs aimed at equipping people for meeting specific roles, wither at the same level or at a higher level, and these would typically form part of the training needs at this level of the framework.

At the project/operational level, the training needs are primarily project-focused, to build capability inventory aligned with the requirements of the project or operations, and this forms a large part of the training requirements, mostly technical or functional.

Changing Education

About blogging, I find, the ideas are relatively simple to define and build upon, while the topic is the difficult part. The topic being done, let’s get to the idea of this post.

There are two basic problems with education delivery today, I feel. One is the shortage of skilled teachers, and the other is the piecemeal approach to concepts taught to children. Let’s look at these one by one.

When talking about shortage of skilled teachers, I don’t mean at the aggregate level. The problem facing education is that while in pockets skilled teachers are available, there are also pockets where they are not. In the age of technology, this gap should be one that should be easy to bridge. Having said that, I believe that on can’t rely on purely virtual education delivery when introducing a new subject, which is what is the a of the education system for the most part. So we might need to look at a blended approach towards doing that. For this blended approach, content taught could be divided into three parts: pure theory, guided problem-solving, and practical application. Concepts of a subject could be taught through recorded lectures, for which a panel of distinguished teachers could be identified from the vast pool available. This would help being the best teachers to students in areas where they are not available. At the same time, this would standardize the delivery of basic concepts. Building upon these concepts, to develop skills of applying these concepts, a set of real-life scenarios could be developed. These would need to be delivered in-person, and would help students to learn how these concepts could be applied to solve problems. These could be simulations or case studies, depending on the requirements of the course being taught. Building on these would be labs to experiment and to apply concepts, as required.

The other aspect is the piecemeal approach to teaching. Children are taught mathematics and physics and economics and history as separate subjects. The concepts they learn and their application are demarcated by subject, while in reality, these subjects are interrelated, and so also should their teaching be. To address this, and to develop holistic problem-solving skills, which enable students to see the big picture, appreciate systems, and building systemic thinking, classwork, homework, and exams should be based on a systemic approach, where students are able to see the system as a whole, understand it in it’s entirety, and be able to understand impact of one thing on another.

Relevance of Communication

The other day i was asked a question … about the role communication skills might play in the realm of knowledge management. This got me thinking … interesting topics … this is not something i have read much about, nor have i written about it myself.

Let us try to look at it from two perspectives:

From the perspective of explicit knowledge, this is a no-brainer … if you are trying to write something, put something to paper, you are in the process of communicating with the world through the document which will result. So, there must be ample and proper articulation, which in turn requires sufficiently good writing skills. This is important because when you are doing so, you are trying to translate a picture which you are carrying in your head, to a set of words, and there is the very real possibility (something which happens more than one would like to see) of meaning being lost in the translation.

Moving now to the realm of collaboration … today, when we are talking about web 2.0, collaboration deals more and more with an ongoing conversation … through blogs, wikis, through social networks, etc. However, this is where my viewpoint begins to differ from the traditional one. the way they have been developed, and their essential philosophy, is totally opposed to any kind of structure. There is some, of course, which is in the interest of brevity (which is why we still divide posts into paragraphs which can be more easily digested), but apart from this, this paradigm of social computing has rather little to do with the sophisiticated techniques that one is taught during communication skills trainings. Apart from the basics … Keep it short, capture the interest of the audience, and make sense at what you are talking about.

The impact is interesting … while communications are becoming more and more informal, they are also becoming more and more vibrant (read twitter … which reminds me, i need to graduate to twitter one of these days, except that i am just too lazy to create my network all over again over there, when i have already done so over at facebook). Lots has been written about the way sms has changed the way people communicate. To my mind, a lot of this is applicable to the social computing space as well.