Charles Gould, MD Brightwave, on why benchmarking is essential to L&D

by | Nov 8, 2013 | Articles

Charles Gould, Managing Director at next generation learning expert Brightwave and Ambassador of Towards Maturity, shares why benchmarking is an essential tool for the L&D profession today.

Benchmarking is important. It provides an excellent opportunity to reflect and consider progress in relation to the wider landscape or competitive climate.

This is especially true in the field of workplace learning where changes in technology and digital media are affecting the way we live at an ever increasing pace. This requires organisations and their learning teams to be in a position to understand and respond to these changes swiftly. Benchmarking can support that.

Of course, we don’t need benchmark studies to underline how profound technology changes are for the corporate L&D profession. However, the ways in which L&D responds to these challenges make an independent benchmarking index more valuable with every passing year.

Ultimately the value the business places on L&D will be demonstrated by the amount they invest in it. Those organisations that invest significantly in L&D must believe in the value they add. It’s these organisations that we hope can show the best strategies for dealing with the technological and economic challenges we face in L&D. One of the key benefits of the Towards Maturity Benchmark study is that it allows you to learn from other organisations and avoid mistakes and pitfalls that others have made. The benchmarking index identifies the areas where you can make quick progress to improve your service to the organisation.

Most of all, it’s a means by which a profession can work together so that it can be an increasingly valued part of any organisation’s strategy. It is this collaborative aspect of benchmarking that presents the greatest opportunity for L&D to work together as a driver of better business performance.

In an ASTD article entitled ‘The Future of L&D is not the information business’, Julie Dirksen points out that when information was not easily accessible then someone could make a reasonably good career from packing up information in a usable format and making it available. But, she asks, when we’re all walking round with smartphones that give us instant access to limitless knowledge, how much will we need these information packagers in the future? She goes on to identify three focus areas for L&D:

  • Cultivating a social learning community
  • Focusing emphatically on performance support – often an accessible resource, a mobile just-in-time tool, a job aid, or even a process improvement
  • Designing experiences that support behaviour change

These three skill areas feature prominently (using different terminology) in the Towards Maturity Benchmark study – the 2013 Report “The New Learning Agenda: Talent, Technology and Change” which has just been published, is available free of charge as part of Towards Maturity’s Ambassador Programme.

As ambassadors of Towards Maturity, Brightwave is proud to be able to support this annual benchmarking study in which any organisation can freely participate. As well as delivering clear value for participating organisations and their teams, it’s important to us as well for two reasons.

Firstly, it confirms and validates many of the changing solutions we as suppliers provide. As experts in next generation learning we need to understand the experience of those using the technology and solutions we design and ensure that we’re continuously evolving to meet their needs.

Secondly, we know that an enlightened, progressive profession will demand products and services that demonstrate innovation and the ability to deliver solutions with real impact – solutions that the wider organisation and not just L&D, will value and invest in.

Written by: Charles Gould, Managing Director, Brightwave

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