How could the Training Industry landscape trend from 2015 onwards?

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Indian Economy seems to be coming out of the troubled waters and 2015 is expected to see a 6.4% growth. The head hunters are gung ho, the ‘make in India’ vision getting an okayed action plan from PM himself, is all set to enable and boost the Indian Manufacturing environment. The Global Economic activity too is broadly strengthening and expected to increase further in 2014-15. However, the top questions that remain for Learning & Development Professionals and Managers in the Training Industry are:

  • Will all these ‘Feel-Good’ translate into ‘Do-More’?
  • How would the Training Industry landscape look like from 2015 onwards?
  • What is trending in the Training Industry?

Curating the experience from the past few years and estimating the future of the training industry, the following trends could be useful for the Learning and Development strategists.

  1. Organization Development (OD) & Learnings in VUCA – No matter how much pleasant the economic breeze feels, the monster of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) is yet to go away. Risking to sound pessimist though, it would be wrong to assume that happy days are here forever. The monster of VUCA could be in hibernation or hiding until another 9/11 wakes it up. The probability for which can never be believed to be zero, ask the world leaders. So learning and development managers need to devise their strategy and present a plan that is fairly VUCA proof. This does not mean that the Instructor Led Programs (ILP’s) are gone forever but prompts us to make sure that Self Directed Learning Interventions and Informal Learning Interventions are well included in the plan and forms an integral part of the strategic OD intervention of the organization.

The next few years are going to see an upraise in OD work. Organizations, however small or big, despite the cool breeze of economic growth will still need to have special focus on managing change. Rather, an impetus for change to align with the overall positive economic stimuli will be experienced by most organizations. Deeper and serious top-driven organization-wide interventions to bring about a planned change will be back in radar, with Boards outlining enterprise-wide organization development strategies to plug the gaps in its results page and focus on untapped Market opportunities deploying People Strategies. More and more internal people could see developing as OD professionals and authentic OD Consultancy would stand starkly separated from gift of gab.

  1. Answering PE & VC’s (Private Equity and Venture Capitalists) – My last visit to an engineering school in India recently firms up my belief that the Next Gen does not compulsorily agree to appear for the campus placements. They dream to own startups and soil their hands in making business sense out of things that are interesting though elementary. And there you go, the PE’s and the VC’s are putting money and betting on them, cheering them in the race. The PE firms and the VC’s invest in the business and make money by exiting. Good or bad, while they are there, they demand results. The entrepreneurs have to answer the PE’s and VC’s on results and this is where training the people sooner to give faster results gets mandated. Thus the need to train up their people soon to show quick results to the PE’s and VC’s. Learning and development professionals must gear-up to meet this challenge. Yes, learning interventions now must be like “quickies” which can give visible results on-ground in much shorter time. Time as a luxury would no more be available to Learning and Development professionals. Yet, beware, the expectations are even higher.
  1. Content would be God – One of the ways that learning and development managers handle the pressure of yielding sharper results in lesser time is by re-orienting the Content and redesigning the delivery.   An important aspect of learning and development, which I feel the L&D professionals have not paid serious attention to and practiced, is that of Instructional Design (ID). It’s time that we believe that designing a training program is a Science. Principles of ID deployed in program designing increases the efficiency of the training program as the design then is specifically tailored for the learning results. Unlike what most training and development professionals believe, effective Instructional Designing is actually much more than just organizing the information to be shared. With the demand to deliver learning results in short span, time has come for all of us to believe in and practice authentic instructional designing.
  1. Mobile Learning – Mobile technology is changing the way we learn and is beginning to change the way we deliver learning, either in isolation or as a combo offering with other computer based technology(CBT). If only Learning and Development professionals accept the fact that the content they create can be delivered in a way that is ‘Convenient’, ‘Comfortable’ and can be ‘Carried Along’, they have delivered what is Mobile Content. With smart phones, tablets and E-readers almost replacing the note-books and the ball point pens, Training would survive only if, a large part of it can get into these mobile devices. Increasingly, organizations are pushing their academic and corporate learning activities through this emerging platform.
  1. Learning Management System – The next few years would see an augment in delivering, measuring and monitoring processes in the training industry. Whereas now, all the managing, monitoring and control of the Learning and Development activities in an organization is largely devoid of a standard centralized e-based application, it won’t be long before organizations serious about Learning and Development, adopts an LMS and in a way the training industry gets a sort of an ERP fever.
  1. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – Free is Big and Open Source is a Great Source. With Comfort and Convenience becoming a significant aspect determining learning effectiveness, MOOC is getting soon to be on top of the charts. The MOOC platform gives us the L&D professionals, course creation tools which are easy to create quality courses online. It helps to control the content and enhance the learner experience driven by latest tools for great interactivity. This is one trend that is going to transform the learning community soon integrating the world of academia, corporate businesses, government institutions and trainers and facilitators offering Training Industry a One Globe Platform.

Not to say that the Management Development Programs (MDP’s) would dry out and INSEADs and Harvards would have to hard-sell; is just that the offers to these programs would be even more selective and only the fittest would survive to experience these famous class rooms.

Wishing good luck and a year of accomplishments to all my L&D colleagues.

Satyakki Bhattacharjee

© Copyright Satyakki Bhattacharjee

Learning Managers of Today – Victims of the Buzz or True Champions of OD?

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Human beings, being social creatures, get easily attracted to often intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something. The buzzword in corporate now is OD. In a refreshing though gradual departure from the ‘Training is Time Pass’ to ‘Learning is Business’ mindset, executives are missing the forest for the trees. But where does that leave the Learning Manager? Indications are that there is a lot happening around the execution of training initiatives – unlike sometime back when classrooms were seen as safe houses for poor performers and Trainers as their guards, playing the second-fiddle in the organization, if not anything else.

Technology’s arrogance that it alone can deliver the demands of Cost, Quality, Service & Speed in business have proved to be a tall claim that business managers could not finally settle. Business pressures led to realizations in chorus that Process cannot be seen in isolation of People. And so came the holy consciousness that Companies doing business has to be seen and treated as Organizations run by People.

Organization Development (OD) is undoubtedly a welcome idea to the Leaders and Managers, particularly of those entities who are keen to strengthen their resolve – never to become a Texaco, Enron or even for that matter the Indian watch maker, HMT. Yet, what is happening in the name of OD? Where is the Strategy? If learning is an integral part of business – for the people, by the people and of the people, can it continue to stay alive and breathe life into the mainstream organization without a systemic approach and a Learning Management Vision & Strategy? Unfortunately that’s what is happening. Adhocism in the area of OD is giving feeble or no results. Organizations are often seen to be investing a lot of money in the so-called Training & Development activities, in peace-meals, focusing acutely on the accomplishment of targeted learning man-days! That’s exactly the scenario when they are counting trees but have no idea of how the forest looks like. The hyper-focused approach on the training deliveries have taken the eye off the larger goals of the organization, which OD was supposed to help accomplish as an enabler. Learning professionals are falling prey to this. When happiness of accomplishments exists around adhocisms in learning – a Learning Manager must wake up to the clarion call.

Learning managers must ensure that training and development activities in the organization are the subset of the overall OD strategy. They do disservice to the organization, should they miss to integrate the training calendar to the larger OD Strategy and the disservice is not only to the organization but to themselves too, in their professional practice. It may be pertinent to note that the OD strategy is the mother of all the training and development related activities and that the calendar cannot be emerging from nowhere. The mandate here is to draw together the strategic objectives, priorities by way of a meticulous diagnosis of the business challenges in the organization and how OD can aid the fulfillment of those, as its own goals. T&D is one of the means to fulfill the OD strategy and not an integrative strategy in itself. Significantly important is to note that all training and development in the organization, as a subset of OD, must cater to address the challenges ever emerging due to the constant changes that the organization is going through. Needless to mention that change being the only constant – is a common ecosystem for every kind of business and thus dedicated strategic focus on OD becomes less of a choice for any organization and its learning manager, irrespective of its size and business that it is in.

This refers to a broad key responsibility area of the Learning Manager. To follow the diagnosis and deliberately plan and embark upon enterprise wide endeavors, with training activities only as one of the initiatives, to increase the organization’s effectiveness, efficiency and overall readiness to battle the weathers of change. The Learning Manager must have a long range, long term holistic and multi faceted approach to help the organization achieve transformational change through its people. Being sensitive to the above responsibilities helps the Learning Manager fall prey to the deceptive trap of adhocism.

The Learning Manager’s plate is still not full… The lack of a robust measurement system could be his potential derailment factor. Having measuring systems, processes, benchmarks and controlling through a PERT gives handles to measure OD efforts and helps cover some distance on measuring otherwise debatable aspect of ‘effectiveness’. An organized, scientific and empirical approach taken by Learning Managers for all OD efforts helps him or her to co-relate the OD interventions to business results, highlight areas for future investments, and also to justify budget allocations. If learning is business, the Learning Managers better be more accountable for how the booty is spent within their organizations.

Lets all not lose the forest for the trees…the traps are many.

© Copyright Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014