All L&D professionals need to embrace their new role in securing their organisation's long-term future, writes Paul Morgan

This is the year of pivotal change within the L&D sector. For years we have spoken about the future of L&D, and how L&D has been changing, but we all know in our heart of hearts that there has been hardly any movement.

If you read the research from the Learning and Performance Institute, Towards Maturity or the CIPD, the profession has for years changed very little change.  

But as the global and local economy become more stretched, and every penny is made to count in organisations large and small, people are starting to question the value they are getting from their investments and what impact they are making. It is interesting to see the merry-go-round conversations about the insourcing and outsourcing of ‘training’, and whether the first budget to be cut in any change should be the ‘people/training’ one.  

Why will this year – and the next ones – be any different? As we see some businesses fail and others, such as John Lewis, become more successful, it’s clear that the heart of any company – regardless of its product – is people.

The number, scope and variety of health, safety, wellbeing and people interventions is becoming more and more profound. And they are more visible, thanks to TV, the web and social media.

Organisations are finally starting to realise that the one lever, if they pull hard enough, that will make a difference to long-term revenue growth and customer satisfaction is investment in their people. Every other avenue has been exhausted and ‘people investment’ is the only one that is delivering an immediate return and impact on the bottom line.

So what does the future of learning look like? For me, it’s about:

  • Making a real impact on your organisation
  • Aligning your L&D function to key strategic priorities

  • Ditching the jargon that your non-L&D colleagues don’t understand

  • Being clear in your purpose and ensuring this aligns with that of your executive board

  • Not worrying about return on investment

  • Stopping implementing new learning management systems or tools that no one wants

  • Building your professional reputation

  • Hiring people who have the desire and attitude to make a difference

  • Speaking and understanding the language of your organisation

Gone are the days of producing endless volumes of ‘stuff’ or quoting pointless figures on training numbers without really understanding whether you are solving a business problem, making an impact or investing in programmes that the business wants.

If more L&D departments thought of themselves as business units and not ‘order takers’ or a content production line, the world would be a far better place. We need to move our teams from production to consultants who feel ok about curating content, don’t worry about the past and focus on the future.   

Be part of this brave new world of L&D and leave the past behind. I know how great it feels to be respected as an integral part of an organisation that’s making a real difference. It can be done: it’s time for you to make it happen

Paul Morgan is head of L&D at O2/Telefónica