Everyone talks about HR business partnering, but few talk about L&D business partnering. At Minerva Academy we take another approach, but that is another topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, the term business partnering encapsulates a key concept.

In response to the global pandemic crisis there was, an understandably human reaction, a lot of panic. Training, learning and development was cancelled by many; and those that did continue ahead made rapid and rushed changes, for example online and Zoom.

For decades we have been advocating that the very heart and soul of any organisation must be people and talent, as they are it’s single most valuable and important asset. Logically then, a central pillar of high-performance organisational resilience and sustainability frameworks and cultures must be people and talent, and hence HR and L&D, focused. Further, all HR and L&D operations must only be business focused; with the sole mission objective of ensuring that organisational strategic, tactical, transformational and operational business planning, delivery, people and talent objectives, agendas and initiatives are fully and seamlessly aligned.

In short, L&D, like HR, must be full business partners driving organisational excellence, productivity, and performance.

So, in a post pandemic world, where change will be inevitable, what initiatives and new ways of operating and delivery might and should stay, and what will be ditched with respect in the world of L&D?

Firstly, a paradigm shift must take place. Empires, silos and guardians of knowledge, skills and competencies must fall and the power of people and peer centric collaborative communications, learning and development must be encouraged and consolidated. At Minerva Academy we would like to see more organisations develop the fledgling stepping stones that already exist into a whole new proactive people centric and focused  L&D paradigm where support, advice, insights, experience, knowledge, skills and competencies can be shared and developed at all organisational levels across multiple formal and informal, synchronous and asynchronous channels, mechanisms and platforms; and those who impart such learning and development recognised and rewarded.

Learning and development buddies, circles, coaching and mentoring are all example of how employees can be engaged, enabled, empowered and enriched; and ‘learning organisations’ given real cultural depth and power.

The old adage that necessity is the mother of invention has shown how quickly innovation and change can be authored, implemented and delivered. Funny how the threat of imminent death makes one wake up and think! Nowhere has this been most clearly seen that in the use of technology, with the rise of online and digital, webinar and virtual learning and development.

The power of such technology must be fully unleashed, and organisations of all sizes and shapes must invest in setting up online and digital communications, collaboration, information, training, learning and development platforms and systems, that simultaneously allows multi medium,  personalised,  flexible, bite sized, ‘just-n-time’ training, learning and development, as well as operational support, such as bots; along with more formal, whole group structured programmes and courses.

However, whilst such tools are immensely valuable, they must only ever be part of a blended approach to be truly effective and high impact. There comes a time when the expertise and experience, not to mention people centric interactive task and competency-based activities to recycle and consolidate learning and development, are critical to successful learning and development.

An outstanding added value business case can be made for such ICT investment, which included environmental, sustainability and resilience, not to mention travel and time issues.

If we are  going to argue that L&D needs to be truly business partnering focused, we also need to accept the business and operational realities of challenging times, be it global pandemics or economic downturns and recessions, where L&D is a bright red target for cuts.

We would advocate that far from being a target for such cuts, in such contexts L&D should be ringfenced to support reviewed strategic and operational business planning.

For example, when organisations loose people and talent, they may look to stabilise and even grow productivity, performance and profitability by using a system of primary, secondary and even tertiary taking, with people fulfilling multiple roles.

And many organisations will also have seen the reality that in such times, ICT led communications, collaboration, learning, development and haring has occurred and has been effective. The question then becomes how do we make our use of such tools as powerful and effective as possible, to successfully drive and support pastoral, performance, productivity and profitability objectives and agendas; and organisational value is added.

Also, given the pragmatic economic and operational constraints, which will effect resources, continued L&D will also become far more pragmatically focused, targeted and ‘social’, so that expertise, experiences, knowledge, advice, skills and competencies are shared and disseminated; which will empower a truly ‘learning organisation’ culture and help boost performance, productivity and profitability,