Organizational Effectiveness for L&D?

Last week included an interesting series of events and conversations.  There was a formal event on innovation in learning technology (that was only partly so), and a presentation by a colleague. I also had a couple of conversations, one with said colleague following his more formal event, and another with another colleague before the initial event. And from that latter conversation came an interesting revelation.  The concept was Organizational Effectiveness, and the question is the relevance to L&D.

Now my colleague in the conversation that preceded the innovation event is wise, with a broad experience across HR.  And I was mentioning that it was hard to see a real sense of urgency in L&D around the problems I can’t help but notice. So, for instance,  I see much elearning that doesn’t reflect serious design.  And similarly, I see too many L&D organizations not looking beyond the course as their responsibility.

My colleague’s perspective was interesting. He opined that by and large, he saw the need for formal learning shrinking, and that more and more HR was focusing on providing self-learning resources instead of course.  While this doesn’t explain L&D complacency, it certainly would explain the lack of interest in investment in improvement. And while it should drive an interest in a broader performance ecosystem, that was seen as the responsibility from other areas.

In particularly, he talked about OD and OE.  Now, I’ve heard of Organizational Development, but have always seen it to be about change management (rightly or wrongly).  However, OE was new to me. He explained it was Organizational Effectiveness, and that intrigued me.  Effectiveness would certainly include the typical L&D role of learning, but also performance support.  It’s the ‘optimal execution’ side of my call for organizational success. If we remapped OD to be about continual innovation, and OE to be about optimal execution, we could have a value footing.

Interestingly, I see that the areas covered as components (not the first four, but these: Decision Making, Change & Learning, Group Effectiveness, & Self-Organizing & Adaptive Systems) seem to be intrinsic to the work I think organizations need (and have been arguing for L&D to take on). The point is, it doesn’t have to be L&D (and given the lack of awareness and urgency, maybe it can’t be). Maybe I need to look more closely at OE (and hope that it’s not just another rebranding).

The focus seems to be on not-for-profits, and achieving outcomes, not redefining them, so perhaps it’s too limited, but somehow I’d like to get a framing that starts generating action.  It’s time to start looking at working smarter and organizational meta-learning, because it appears to me that the need and opportunity are huge.  What are the leverage points?  I welcome any pointers, feedback, ideas, etc.!


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