What’s the point of Learning and Development?

What's the point of Learning and Development?How often have you heard the exasperated question: ‘What’s the point of Learning and Development?’

How often have you heard the following quotation trotted out as a put down of trainers, teachers, etc.?

“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” (George Bernard Shaw, 1903.)

Is this perception part of our problem as L&D professionals? How many people think that we are teaching the same ‘tired old tricks’? Do people believe we are just trying to fill empty vessels?

We have a responsibility to demonstrate our value. We need to show business partners why we do what we do. So, let’s have a look….and establish precisely: ‘What’s the point of Learning and Development?’

There are many ways we can all benefit from structured development. But let’s start with our end in mind. L&D are about developing people, teams and positively contributing to the organisation’s results.

Knowing what your business’ strategies are and how L&D can support them is critical. Yet this often doesn’t happen when learning is designed. (Read; quickly pulled together without scoping and needs analysis). I’m sure that this feeds the cry of ‘What’s the point of Learning and Development?’

As we establish the business strategies and the focus for L&D we should reflect on these questions:

  • What, precisely, do managers and leaders see as the purpose of L&D?
  • How much value do managers and leaders believe L&D can add to the business?
  • What are the objectives for the business?
  • What are the people requirements to meet these objectives?
  • What do managers and leaders want L&D to help people achieve?
  • What’s the point of Learning and Development?

This conversation gives us an opportunity to discuss some of the benefits of L&D.

The tangible benefits of L&D

  • Building appropriate knowledge – i.e. passing professional exams, of new processes, of products and equipment
  • Ensuring a detailed understanding of role relevant issues
  • Developing new / improved skillsets for new role-specific tasks
  • Sharing best practice and embedding it as common practice
  • Developing measurable competencies
  • Moving / staying ahead of competitor employers and companies
  • Using the benefits of ‘productive failure‘ we can identify when in learning we should let learners struggle. In constructing learning scenarios that help people and teams realise their capacity for problem solving we can support the critical thinking required by businesses.
  • Creating a Return On Investment


The intangible benefits of L&D

  • Improving and maintaining morale – ensuring employees feel valued
  • Establishing a sense of belonging / team orientation
  • Engaging staff – creating a Return on Engagement
  • Challenging lazy embedded attitudes and behaviours , re-energising and revitalizing people and culture.
  • Building knowledge / understanding / skills for the future – creating more rounded and valuable team members
  • Developing the management team and future leaders – lowering recruitment costs
  • Enhancing employee retention – lowering recruitment costs
  • Future-proofing employees: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • Developing critical thinking: “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – Socrates

Learning and motivation are linked. To learn, understand, change behaviours and develop requires an intrinsic motivation.  And a motivated person who believes in themselves can learn or do almost anything.

So which are the most important motivators for your organisation to help your team learn and develop?

What do you want to achieve? How can Motivated And Competent help you create your organisation’s future?

I hope that we can move the conversation on from ‘What’s the point of Learning And Development?’ to ‘This is the way L&D will help achieve our goals’.

For as Aristotle said: “Those that know, do. Those who understand teach.”

And I hope you have a positive answer to the question ‘What’s the point of Learning And Development?’