Dec 10, 2008

The smart cut - calling the learning field to think about it

Hello fellow learning professional!

It's all around us: in the newspaper I read about car and steel plants that stop production for a few months. My bank is still there, but others are not. Germany and other leading economies are officially in recession. So what will 2009 bring for learning? It's the economy, stupid!

In the last weeks I had the privilege to hear many people talk about their views on the impact of this crisis. Some are in denial, think it will not happen to them, think they'll sweat it out, think they are untouchable as Iceland. Some predict the end of the capitalist industrial age. Some don't know. Here are a few of the mixed messages:

- I read in a poll amongst Belgian employees they still expect a raise next year, crisis or no crisis.
- Jay Cross says: First off, be aware that the magnitude of the financial meltdown is almost beyond comprehension. ... We are witnessing the final meltdown of the industrial economy.As in other tough economic times, training budgets will be cut. That’s a given. But I can foresee training departments being eliminated almost entirely. And I fully expect a third of more of the corporations in our audience today will be re-engineered, chopped up, overtaken, and dismembered beyond recognition by this time next year.
- Clive Shepherd agrees: In this situation, for learning and development professionals to be fussing too much about the needs of a new generation of learners would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First let's deal with the iceberg.
- Most learning chiefs don't expect their budget to get cut.
- Lucy Kellaway predicts the year of the CFO in the Economist. The financial manager will gain influence over all others, and many CEOs might be replaced by people with a financial background. The war on talent will not be the key topic of 2009.

So there seems to be a crisis arriving, but we are unsure on how long it will take and how deep the impact will be and if we need to act. But understand this: HR and learning departments will be asked to cut. History has its way of showing that.

So I would say DON'T do anything of the following: deny, hide, berry your head in the sand, wait until the storm is over, fear, wait for the ax to fall, do business as usual, ...

I would recommend the learning industry to take the ax in its own hand, and cut smart. Because that is our duty: to make sure we don't blindly cut but do it smart. Actually, with the 'opportunity' of this crisis, and the demographic shift, and our understanding on how adults really learn most (no, it's not through formal classroom training), and advances in collaborative technology this is a great moment to cut learning right.

This is a call to all people involved in learning to help think about the smart cut.
I know you are all busy, but any ideas?

the smart cut
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1 comment:

Umair said...

I don't think that the entire learning industry will get affected by the recession. Yes, the learning departments will be shut down and HR will be limited but there are various sources of being a learning provider. Maybe you won't be employed as a full time employee but the learning needs of professional industries such as insurance licensing, services, health care and many more will remain. Also for organizational and behavioral training, they can be provided remotely. Online education is the new direction that the learning industry is moving to. These are not only cost-effective but they save time and money. Teachers will find live instructor training online, colleges will learn to move to distance learning and so on.. the future is not bleak. As you said, it will change it's course and we will definitely bounce back. It's just a matter of time. But i like the few things one should not do during this recession. I totally agree with that in the positive light.