Who’s fooling who?

I must admit that I had a somewhat snobbish attitude toward L&D. There – it’s out there. I see myself as an OD practitioner in the glamorous world of organisational transformation, and I saw the L&D team as folks filling seats on training courses. I was out and about interviewing executives and facilitating strategic transformations, and the L&D guys were, well, somewhere else doing something else. 
Then there was that one L&D guy from a reputable bank who asked us for help with injecting a certain approach into a team – so we designed a program for him only to have him upskill a few members of his team and then vanish, reputedly rolling out the work without us. Hmph.
After a 7-year break from OD consulting I came back to WorldsView Academy and found myself registered in the UCT Getsmarter 12-week program on instructional design. How that came to happen is a whole different story – but Gosh! There’s a lot to learn about instructional design, especially with the technology disruptions in general and in instructional design more specifically. In the search for an answer to “how do we learn, how do we teach” the L&D profession is grappling with a lot. And a lot of what they grapple with sits in the centre of the tangled knots I struggle with in organisations.
And then I remembered … my great and glorious OD profession was born out of L&D! The post WWII industrial boom saw droves of people arriving in a new-fangled thing called “corporations”, needing to work together to get things done. L&D departments were pressed to get productivity up quickly – and that spat out NTL and Tavistock in the 1950’s – who I have to thank for the OD profession. They figured out ways to improve group effectiveness in the 50’s, moved that into organisations as team development, and went on to engage with Action research, Survey-Feedback, Participative Management, the quality movement; Quality of Work Life, Strategic Change, Organisational transformation, culture, learning. In the 1990’s I climbed on that boat, not aware enough of the source of the water that carried me.
Some of the masters never lost their link to learning and development (Senge – Systems Thinking, Argyris – Double loop learning, Schon – Reflective practice and Schein – Organisational Culture). They never lost touch with the centrality of learning in organisational transformation. 
L&D went on and developed a list of taxonomies that keeps evolving, wrestling with the transformative potential of learning and teaching. What they know about what works and does not work in changing human behaviour fills libraries.
It reminded me of an old R&B song “Who’s fooling who” (1982 – One Way). I imagine L&D singing to OD (or to me…)

You thought when you had left me
That you’d really tear me apart  But what you did not understandIs that you really didn’t own my heart
You went out and did everythingYou made me stay at homeBut all the time while you were out there (…)I wasn’t always at home alone”.

WorldsView is returning to OD’s roots, and the transformational potential of great instructional design. We will get better at Leadership developmentTeam development, and a host of other interventions in the organisational transformation process. We are building better bottles for our great wine and we hope you can be a part of this journey. 

Please join us on 6th December for our next OD Talk conversation on this topic. Especially if you are an L&D professional – come along and gloat, and add your voice to the conversation. Follow @WorldsViewAcademy on LinkedIn for more information about the talk. 

Oh – and feel free to rub my nose in it… I deserve it!