L&D’s Authenticity Challenge

I’m doing the lonely slog through a MOOC that has finished it’s prescribed time long before I was able to complete everything.  I just finished the activities in the unit on Authenticity in Julian Stodd’s Foundations of the Social Age which ran earlier this year but has remained open for dudes like me.  The last assignment asked us to reflect upon Authenticity however we’d like – for me, that’s what new eelearning is for.

In Julian’s conceptualization of Authenticity in the Social Age, it is something we earn through the stories we tell and the genuineness and consistency of our actions.  The people, organizations, and communities we are a part of listen to our stories and match them against what they know of our experience.  If there is congruence, then authenticity is earned.  If, however, there is disparity between our stories and our actions (lets say I always talk about graduating from Harvard, but all my college day activities were in Talahassee) then authenticity is lost.  People trust us less and are less likely to follow our leadership.

L&D as a field finds itself with an intriguing dichotomy it is dealing with on the authenticity front.

Authenticity?  What Authenticity?

On the one hand, we have a history of inauthenticity regarding the effectiveness of the training and learning we have created and implemented. In most cases, we have no evidence that it has been successful, In many cases, we aren’t even collecting the data that is truly needed to do build the metrics to determine whether we are successful or not.yet we and upper management have agreed on a narrative that it must be successful.  In research study after research study, year after year we see the reports that we’re not delivering the the data that would indicate we are providing the needed value for the c-suite.  We put reports together with the data we do have, but I dare say that even we’don’t believe THAT story.  We’re not authentic.  Our reports don’t match what are getting from our instructional design and data strategy.

The Tools are Emerging

On the other hand, new practices including social and informal learning, new data collection capabilities and a renewed effort to build analytics from business outcomes back from effectiveness and efficiency to specific behaviors and resulting data that will drive decisions; are providing us with the opportunity to reinvent everything we do and the potential to meet the actual needs of the businesses we serve.

The Challenge

To get from the current state to the potential state will require a willingness by L&D to humbly admit that we haven’t been serving the organization well but are prepared to radically change people, processes, and products to do so. Following through on this promise should have a large positive impact on L&D’s authenticity for the future.

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