You are wrong if you are expecting me to start crystal-ball gazing

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You are wrong if you are expecting me to start crystal-ball gazing to identify the future shape of corporate learning and development. I’m in the privileged position of being able to share some early insights into real evidence of how L&D leaders see the future unfolding.

We have just started the fifth week of the 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark campaign and already we have received many, many responses from around the world – including Nordics, Australia and beyond – across a wide range of industry sectors ranging from financial services, health and retail, to non-profit and pharmaceutical organisations.

What stands out so far are some of the comments from participants’ on what is influencing the future of L&D. These include:

  • The way people are connecting and collaborating (social learning) is changing: How can we support them better?
  • The importance of agility: businesses and individuals need to stay ahead of the game
  • Rising costs and reduced budgets, driving innovation
  • High demand for improving capability, but no time to go on courses
  • Delivering more value for less
  • The need for learning flexibility, demanding mobile technology
  • Technology is becoming an imperative, as opposed to a “nice to have”
  • Consulting approach to L&D

These eight influencing factors suggest a very different looking L&D department in months and years to come. But the challenge for all L&D leaders is how to get there.

This year’s benchmark campaign focuses on the need for evidence to help understand what in the L&D function is working, how that shapes up with peers in your own sector and also how the best performing learning companies are achieving improved outcomes.

Now in its twelfth year, the Towards Maturity Benchmark has gathered huge amounts of evidence on what is driving better business outcomes, both from L&D team data and learner data. We have seen top learning companies – we call them the Top Deck, those in the top 10% of performers – use the evidence of their own performance to drive success, which is why we feel evidence has to be at the start, and heart, of transforming learning.

The L&D community is ready for change, but many don’t know where to start. This is where evidence comes in. L&D leaders can learn much from the example set by their counterparts in marketing, who track everything that can be tracked and then adapt their behaviour continually to improve performance.

Top Deck organisations that are aligned with business outcomes are making learning decisions based on business decisions, leading to significant business impact:

  • 13 times more likely to report increased revenue;
  • 9 times more likely to report increased productivity;
  • 5 times more likely to report improved customer satisfaction as a benefit;
  • 50% more likely to have noticed positive changes in staff behaviour.

So, if you are in L&D or know colleagues who are, I’d urge you to use the Towards Maturity Benchmark to help you build your high performing L&D team. It only takes 60 minutes to complete (less if you have taken it previously) and provides the evidence you will need to start delivering greater business impact.

Benchmark Your Strategy


Written by our Guest Blogger, Laura Overton

Laura Overton is the Managing Director of Towards Maturity – a not for profit benchmark practice that provides independent research to help business deliver improved performance through learning innovation. Her work is based on 25+ years of practical experience looking at learning innovation for business advantage, backed by her independent research with over 3,500 organisations and thousands of learners since 2003.


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