“The Learning Challenge” by Nigel Paine

by | Dec 4, 2014 | Articles

In his recent book1 Nigel Paine looks at The Learning Challenge. We invited him to comment on the Towards Maturity 2014-15 Benchmark Report. In this guest blog, he explores 5 areas of synergy with the findings of the Towards Maturity 2014 Benchmark Report:

“I tried to focus on the key changes that were emerging in the learning and development field in order that those involved, or even those interested, could begin to benchmark their own practice against what I considered to be examples of exemplary L&D.

When the Towards Maturity 2014 benchmark was published recently, I grabbed it with both hands. Would its findings align with mine, and would the benchmark illuminate some of the big changes that are going on around L&D and what impact those changes can make on successful learning?

I have read every single TM Benchmark since the first edition. This one is notably more comprehensive, with more data and an enormous increase in the number of participating organisations. TM’s 600 would need to go head-to-head with the 30 or so people I had in-depth interviews with as part of the research process to write my book.

Here are the five conclusions that jumped out at me as I read through the Benchmark Study:

1. Exceptional performance in L&D far outstrips the average. Indeed the gap is widening year-on-year.

2. Exceptional performers use technology more effectively, introduce new models of learning and are clearly curious about what is going on out in the field. They think all the time about improvement and increasing the impact of what they do on a day-to-day basis.

3. The elite group (called “Top Deck” by TM) stand out in terms of their performance. They deliver more skills to more people more effectively and they are much more closely aligned with their business than their peers.

4. Aligning with the business strategy and making a tangible difference in achieving that strategy is a critical element of their effectiveness throughout the report.

5. Good learning and development goes hand-in-hand with modernisation, realignment and innovation.

All of this was music to my ears. My broad conclusions in the book are that L&D is facing unprecedented change that is no longer optional but which will help deliver spectacular results if it is embraced and understood. The main purpose of the book is to aid that process of understanding on a generic level, but also give pragmatic help, advice and guidance to those wanting to start out on their own learning and innovation journeys. All through the book there are sections offering suggestions for moving forward. In other words practical ideas about first baby steps. These all resonate with the TM benchmark report. Indeed if you read the report and you want to move forward as an L&D organisation, then carry on benchmarking. If you read my book and act on some of the ideas in it you will be amazed at your progress.”

If you would like a copy of the book free of UK postage and packing, then please go to www.koganpage.com. At checkout add the code: TLCD20. As a Christmas bonus, you will also receive a 20% discount on the list price.


1. Nigel Paine, The Learning Challenge: Dealing with technology innovation and change in Learning and Development (London: Kogan Page, 2014).


About Nigel:

Nigel Paine is a change-focused leader with a worldwide reputation and a unique grasp of media, learning and development in the public, private and academic sectors. He has extensive experience in leadership and consultancy with public service broadcasters, SMEs, global industry players, government and education institutions.

Nigel focuses on the use of learning technologies, organisational development, leadership and creativity with a spotlight on maximising human potential, innovation and performance in the workplace. Nigel is a strategic thinker, able to motivate, lead and drive organisations forward to deliver business and training objectives.

Nigel is an official supporter of Towards Maturity, a group of experts and providers that help our efforts to remain vendor-neutral.

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