It’s an Excellent Life!

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It’s a Wonderful Life is the very best holiday movie. This is not an opinion. This is a truth. And do not come with Story, Vacation, your Christmas Carol or even Die Hard. Done!
It’s a Wonderful Life, is also the only film created to inspire the hearts and minds of this L&D community besides being the movie to watch on a cold December evening. Uh huh. Yup. It is totally true.
Don’t believe me? Well then let us take a quick walk in George Bailey’s shoes and see It’s a Wonderful Life may provide L&D professionals with invaluable lessons that can allow you to start 2020 using a modern learning mindset.
CAUTION! MEME SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Most L&D specialists –myself included–did not go to college to study learning. We just had a set of skills and have been in the right place at the right time. But learning at work functions (try saying that five times fast) on the fly may result in some hard lessons. We may lean on our private experiences a bit too much and, consequently, deliver solutions that make sense but maybe not the folks we’re trying to support. New L&D pros may operate within organizational silos and not associate with the professional community.

Eventually we find our footing. We start reading blogs and attending webinars. We may have the opportunity to attend a seminar or two and join to our peers. As our adulthood deepens, we begin to realize the greater potential of our functions and the number of ideas are available for addressing performance challenges.

But to the hectic daily requirements of our functions, we return after our brief stints of exploration and networking. Compliance training has to be delivered by next week, although a brand-new technology was found by you. You bought a new publication, but meetings are being scheduled by project stakeholders and constantly changing their requirements. You took pages of notes in seminar sessions, but there’s a fresh on-boarding class coming in tomorrow and the LMS is finally upgrading in two weeks and the company is publishing a brand new product at the conclusion of the quarter, so all the training has to get upgraded.

Our capabilities as L&D experts could be evolving, but the same cannot be said of our organizational mindset. L&D is an odd profession. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how we should do our jobs. After all, everyone has been previously to some type of instruction or school. They think they know what worked best for them. So they expect to learn to feel and look like this experience. They do not know how learning happens in the context of their office, nor should they be expected to. But this lack of a mindset shift is a significant barrier.

Ultimately, the function of L&D is challenged. Employees need to be chased down to complete training that is necessary. Stakeholders are reluctant to invest in ideas that are new and just keep asking courses. L&D can’t pivot to keep up with the pace of business. So people start to look for options, whether they just things they can find on the internet for cheap/free or be business solutions. And we start to wonder about our purpose. Will we always be order takers?

Saying that somebody “can’t see the forest for the trees” is a bit trite, but it can frequently be authentic in L&D. We get so overwhelmed by our problems daily, we can’t see the image. An outside perspective can be priceless and open our eyes. It may come from an inner spouse. It may come from an outside “thought leader” It could come as a result of linking more directly with the employees we support. Regardless of origin, this renewed perspective can help us think about the role we play in the modern office.

In spite of a mindset that is renewed, we have to deal with realities. That’s why learning conversion is an iterative (but quick) process. We can introduce new tactics to show our expanded capabilities and show people who are learning is not about course completions and test scores (while using altered iterations of existing and approved solutions). In the end, the dialog can be started by L&D but learning transformation is about instruction and much more about culture not as.

So, what’s the story’s conclusion? How can we know our transformation? What is our George Bailey “Auld Lang Syne” moment? Measurement is a vital component, because it’s the only way to prove that what we do has an impact on the organization and individuals. But, I think the transformation is the most evident in our conversations.
We will know the organizational mindset has changed when…
Stakeholders come for aid to L&D, not coaching
L&D can proactively recommend solutions that do not include traditional classes
Individuals are encouraged and willing to Talk about their knowledge to help their peers
Employees have to be chased down to finish instruction
Before decisions are made, We’re involved in talks about worker enablement
We’ve got a wonderful opportunity as L&D experts, an opportunity to impact people’s lives by helping them do their very best work each day whilst also getting ready for what may come. Every man’s life touches so many lives. As we finalize our strategies for next year, let us promise to do our very best to be there when folks need us, just like the citizens of Bedford Falls were there when George Bailey needed them.

Thanks for reading “In Real Life” this season, and happy holidays in the teams at LearnGeek and Axonify!

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