Calling All Learning Professionals: Make 2016 the Year of Action!

by | Dec 9, 2015 | Articles

If you are planning to transform learning in 2016, we’re offering a free gift to help you make the best decisions for the year ahead.

Can there be a better time to stop, reflect and plan for the future than at the end of one year and start of another? It is particularly important that those working in L&D take stock of what lies behind them and look forward to what 2016 will bring. This is most definitely a year for a fresh start and L&D needs to be ready for it. The profession is on the cusp of huge change but as a profession, we are struggling to make that all-important step from awareness to action.

It’s time for change

Having just spent several months travelling around the globe, taking the findings of the latest Towards Maturity Benchmark with us, we can confidently say that L&D knows it has to change, wants to change and knows that the time to do it is now.

As a team, we have had many, many conversations with HR leaders across five different continents who have the results of our benchmarking study (showcasing the views, experiences and results of 600 L&D leaders from 55 countries) and the message from all is the same – we need to change! There is a real hunger for change. These are exciting times to be in L&D as we shift from delivering course transactions to delivering bottom line value. However, how to effect those changes still remains a daunting prospect for many.

It’s time to take stock

Benchmarking is such a good way for organisations to establish where they are at, where they need to be and how they can get there. It’s a performance improvement tool that L&D can use to review current practices against those of the best performers.

If you are struggling to know where to prioritise your actions next year, the Towards Maturity Personalised Benchmark Report provides tailored insights on 23 effective practice benchmarks, including alignment, engagement and design.

Kellye White from CLO magazine recently asked me if L&D leaders really need all this benchmark data. My answer was no – if they are content with their current program of work and have no desire or reason to change. Yes, if they believe the world of work is changing around them, and that they need to do things differently. This type of data helps them to make sound evidence-based decisions that reduce risk and increase results.

For the next 6 weeks, we are offering L&D leaders the opportunity to use the Towards Maturity Benchmark to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. In keeping with the seasonal attitude of goodwill, we are offering the opportunity to receive a detailed, Personalised Benchmark Report free of charge. Everyone who completes by 17th December will receive their full Personalised Report on the 18th in time for some reflection over the holiday season. If you take part in January, we will run another set of free reports on the 27th January 2016. (Please see the box out below for further details).

It’s time to take action

What’s certain, is that 2016 has to be a year of action, not talk. L&D needs to start taking action now, using the momentum that a new year always offers. But, it needn’t be a solitary journey. In fact, L&D should take full advantage of the experiences and views of other L&D teams that have already embarked on the same journey. Look at what other organisations are doing, how they are doing it, use the lessons learned and start making your own changes. That’s the beauty of benchmarking – you get to see what others are doing well, how that is impacting bottom line value and how your organisation compares.

L&D professionals around the globe are grappling with the same challenges. I hear the same questions and discussions time and time again: What do these changes mean? How can and should L&D add value in this new business landscape? Where do we fit in and add value with a workforce that is taking control of its own learning? How can we keep abreast of technology and use it more effectively? Does L&D still have a valuable role to play and if so, what is it and how do we get there? These are big questions and it’s easy to see why L&D practitioners are daunted.

The changes that are taking place in L&D are seismic. Although we have known they are coming for a few years now, they have taken hold very quickly. In order to take control of where L&D is going and its role within the business, L&D needs to adapt and take control of its own destiny, rather than just being buffeted about by all the changes.

It’s time to learn from the top performing L&D teams

Some organisations have already gotten to grips with the changes and have adapted. At Towards Maturity, we highlight the top 10% performing companies that take part in our benchmarking process and call them the ‘Top Deck’. It is very clear to us that the Top Deck has seized the challenges facing L&D and the business and are reaping the rewards in several key areas.

When compared to those in the bottom quartile of the Index, those in the Top Deck are over eight times more likely to:

  • Improve talent/performance management
  • Increase sharing of good practice
  • Improve application of learning in the workplace
  • They are also over six times more likely to:
  • Improve productivity
  • Respond faster to changing business conditions
  • Deliver greater value for money

These are major benefits and provide a compelling business case for change.

So, what is it that Top Deck organisations are doing differently and how does it lead to these results? They have understood what these changes mean and how to meet the new challenges. As a result, they have pursued a fundamentally different approach to learning and are fostering a learning culture throughout their organisation. They are enabling learning to happen at the point of need and are concentrating on business outputs, rather than learning inputs. Learning inputs is the L&D model of yesterday, business outputs is the L&D and business model of today and the future.

In this year’s study we identified that L&D professionals are not the only ones who are finding it hard to change their mind-set. Business leaders need to change their perception of L&D and their relationship with L&D, as current perceptions are a major obstacle to change. By completing the benchmarking study and having a personalised copy of the findings, L&D then has a persuasive, evidence-based business case for change that can stimulate new commitment from business leaders.

2016: It’s time to make it happen

As I said earlier, L&D now has a real hunger for change. What we have been talking about over the past 12 years, ever since we started our research, is now resonating across the globe. It’s the need for business alignment, the need to focus on business outputs rather than learning inputs, the need to have learners at the heart of the L&D strategy, the need to support learning that goes beyond the course and so on.

2016 is the year when we stop talking about what needs to be done. Instead it is the year when we need to make it happen. My hope for 2016 is when we do our next benchmarking survey, in the summer of 2016, we will find that L&D has made real progress in making the necessary changes happen and that talk has turned into action.

So we invite you to take an hour out this holiday season, use the Towards Maturity Benchmark to reflect on the year behind and use your free Personalised Benchmark Report to advise your plan of action for the year ahead.

Disclaimer: It’s not about benchmarking

This is not a pitch about our Benchmark. Benchmarking is not an end to itself; reviewing your strategy is all about discovering the actions that reap better results – benchmarking can definitely help, but this is only the first step towards making 2016 a year of actions. We can help you take the right actions for you. In 2016, we hope to see some real shifts when we identify trends in the way people have approached their strategy next year.

Our gift to you this Christmas…


  • Any L&D professionals or teams who start and complete our benchmarking process by 17 December 2015 or 27 January 2016 will receive a free, Personalised Benchmark Report thanks to the generous support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors.
  • In addition, we are inviting all who receive a Personalised Benchmark Report to come along to our stand at Learning Technologies conference on 3-4 February 2016, where we can discuss your scores and answer any questions.
  • Watch out for articles and resources in 2016 – we’ll be focusing on help L&D professionals make this a year of action. Coming soon…

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