Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning & Performance or Training & Development?

I sat in on the ASTD webinar last week about the revamp to the ASTD Competency Model.
As always when involved in such events I looked for the 'Back Channel' but could not find it. So I started my own. If you want to see what was being discussed you can read all about it here.

The biggest topic in the back channel (Apart from why the hell we had to create our own in the first place) was the fact that the model had been renamed.
It used to be the Workplace Learning & Performance Competency model.
If you chose to get certified against this model you got designated as a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance.
One of the things that attracted so many people was the simple fact that the words made the focus very clear. It is about what the Learners learn and how we can help them improve their Performance.
For the last 10 years we have been trying to socialize the term Workplace Learning & Performance. Because Training & Development is about the training and (hopefully) the development it facilitates. WLP is about so much more.

In fact the new model still talks about so much more than just training.
There is Knowledge Management, Coaching, and Integrated Talent Management. I don't know many 'trainers' who have deep knowledge of those things, although I know many Workplace Learning & Performance Professionals who do.

ASTD said that they changed the name to make is more understandable by our employers, clients and other business partners, but I think that a sad mistake.

Language matters. As stated in the model a foundational competency of any professional, especially one in our field, is that of being able to communicate effectively. Its in the model, right next to influencing stakeholders and building trust, under the Interpersonal Skills heading. If people don't understand what we mean by Workplace Learning & Performance then we should be able to tell them.

It is a shame that our professional body has retreated from this. Rather than aim to influence all the stakeholders into understanding what it means to be a professional in our field they have chosen to use a language that dumbs down our contribution to organizational goals. Rather than build trust among the people working in our profession they have chosen to supply a metaphorical slap in the face to those of us who have been fighting the 'Workplace Learning & Performance' fight by going back to the old job and the old term.

I am a Workplace Learning and Performance Professional.  And I'm damn proud of that.


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