Ambassador 10th Anniversary Roundtable Round-Up!

by | Jun 20, 2018 | Articles, Featured, General

It’s ten years since our team of ambassadors started working with us at Towards Maturity, sharing their L&D insights and expertise and supporting us on our benchmarking journey.

To mark this exciting anniversary, we brought the ambassadors together for a roundtable discussion about the current state of L&D, the future of L&D, how to achieve digital transformation and of course, our latest benchmarking report, The Transformation Curve. What followed were some really interesting, informative and honest comments, many of which we will share with you here.

As part of the discussion, we asked the ambassadors four key questions:

  1. What excites me about this report?
  2. How can suppliers and customers work together to accelerate change?
  3. What does transformation look like for your business?
  4. As ambassadors for change, what commitments should you like to make your customers to help drive transformation?

Some strong themes quickly emerged from the ambassadors’ comments. Firstly, they really liked the fact that our latest report gives a clear framework for L&D and the business to work from to achieve change. Many said it helped give clarity about why transformation needs to happen and how to achieve it – clarity for them, clarity for L&D professionals and clarity for business leaders. ‘The Transformation Curve’ sets out a clear case for change and the ambassadors like that. They think it’s just what the industry needs in order to move from talking about change to effecting change. They think it’s also just what business leaders need as well in order to get them on board with the change agenda.

“It gives L&D and the business a framework to understand where they are in terms of performance and what’s required to drive improvement,” says Peter Casebow, CEO at GoodPractice. “It also sets out the constant need for change and is a means of engaging organisations in dialogue about the sort of service they want from L&D.”

The need for L&D to align itself with the business was mentioned numerous times, with several ambassadors citing ‘The Transformation Curve’ as a very useful tool and talking point to help do it.

So the ambassadors like the bigger picture – the why we need change. They are also very keen on the more detailed aspects of the report and the fact that we have translated the bigger picture stuff into manageable stages, as outlined in the four stages of maturity and the six dimensions. Many of the ambassadors singled out the usefulness of breaking down transformation into small, achievable steps. They say this approach helps organisations establish where they are now on the curve and what steps they need to take to get to the next stage. It makes it easier for them to see the situation clearly and is much less daunting than just thinking ‘We have to transform!” The ambassadors like the practical advice on why and how to change at each step and the advantages to be gained from moving onto the next stage.

Something that stood out for many of the ambassadors is the pivot points of change, describing the moment when something that has been successful is on the point of decline. “The most exciting thing for me and for many clients is the identification of pivot points on the journey towards maturity,” says Patrick Kayton, UK CEO and co-founder of Cognician. One ambassador highlighted the S curve as being very useful and a model that chimes well with modern organisations. “The S shaped curve aligns with agile thinking, a change that many organisations are going through now and one that is really important for our own thinking,” says John Helmer, director of marketing at Lumesse Learning. “This shows me that Towards Maturity is in line not only with our own thinking, but what is happening in our clients’ organisations too.”

In fact, something else that several of the ambassadors thought was good about ‘The Transformation Curve’ is the fact that we’ve said that success is not a constantly upward trajectory. There are surges, there are dips, there are things that work really well that then stop working well.  Basically, there are peaks and troughs and if L&D and businesses can recognise that and work with it they know how to reach the peaks, when to establish that a peak has peaked and how to move up out of any troughs. “This report recognizes that progress occurs in waves,” says independent consultant, Clive Shepherd. “And there can be setbacks, including major business reorganisations, market fluctuations and key people moving on.”

Of course, it is hard to let go of successes that have worked well and are possibly still working well, but Robert Wagner, director at the training provider, DPG, said the recognition that sometimes L&D has to make counterintuitive decisions is very important. “It’s okay to go backwards in order to move forward,” he says.

Several words cropped up time and time again in the ambassadors’ comments, words that have a shared commonality. They were: communication, dialogue, conversations, talking, listening, sharing, stories, openness and honesty. What this tells us is that communication is vital – L&D has to keep talking and listening, to the business, to their colleagues and peers and to employees. Transformation does not happen in individual silos, spearheaded by individual people. Transformation is wholesale change, with everyone in it together. That is a thread that ran right through the ambassadors’ comments. Jenny Lycett, marketing director at the global workplace learning company Kineo, was really excited about the fourth stage of maturity, the shared responsibility stage. “It feels as if the L&D function/profession has been struggling with the idea of control for some time,” she says. “We’ve been talking about phrases like ‘top down’, ‘not being a bottleneck’ and ‘learners being in the driving seat’ for a long time. But really, we are all in it together.”

Two other words that also cropped up a lot are data and insights. The ambassadors like all the data informing and driving ‘The Transformation Curve’. They like this evidence-based approach to L&D and business and think L&D needs to do a lot more of it, and L&D needs to share insights, with each other, with business leaders and with customers.

Look out for the next installments in this series, providing further insights and comments from our ambassadors at our anniversary roundtable event.

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