Interview with Ross Stevenson, independent learning and performance strategist
Table of contents
- What is L&D about besides training the workforce?
- What are critical ROI metrics for L&D?
- What KPIs are important for L&D?
- What should an L&D team of the future be responsible for?
- How does L&D deliver value to the business?
- What does the future hold for L&D departments? What skills should an L&D expert of the future possess?
- How can tools and technologies support and foster the L&D processes in the companies?
- What are the essential components of a successful L&D strategy?
- What are the trends in Learning and Development?
- What podcasts, blogs, and books about L&D can you recommend?
Meet Ross Stevenson, a diversified learning and performance strategist. We discussed the key challenges, key tasks for L&D teams, and resources to read and listen to — more on that below.
Q: What is L&D about besides training the workforce?
It’s about growing human potential, setting people up for rewarding careers through skill acquisition and improvement, and helping companies to perform better with high-skilled individuals.
Q: What are critical ROI metrics for L&D?
They’re certainly less of the vanity metrics like ‘how many times your platform was accessed’ and more about measuring value. We want to focus more on tracking value and a shift in performance outcomes.
Q: What KPIs are important for L&D?
I would suggest an alternative of ditching KPIs for OKRs which is an alternative goal-tracking system. OKRs encourage continuous improvement vs. KPIs definitive reach in this measurement model. I believe OKRs provide a better framework for the L&D industry to measure their impact.
Q: What should an L&D team of the future be responsible for?
Same as they’re now, supporting people in their personal and professional growth and enabling performance outcomes for organizations through the work they do with these people.
Q: How does L&D deliver value to the business?
It does this in many ways, in my opinion. Not all of these may seem obvious or even visible to all, but it has touchpoints across engagement, retention, talent attraction, and, of course, performance outcomes. Without highly-skilled and capable people, an organization cannot reach its goals, impacting its ability to make money.
Q: What does the future hold for L&D departments? What skills should an L&D expert of the future possess?
I believe the future is bright. People will always need guidance in navigating the field of continuous improvement, whether this is for the professional or personal world.
Skills for an L&D expert are hard to define, as many roles within the L&D space exist. However, the skills that will serve people well are marketing, product management, and digital technology skills will greatly help navigate the future.
Q: How can tools and technologies support and foster the L&D processes in the companies?
Massively! We should look at digital technology as an enabler in our work, but we must have the right intention with it. The work of a modern L&D team can be greatly amplified. However, teams need to get better with their own tech skills.
L&D teams need to practice what they preach and learn how to make the most of digital technology available to them.
Q: What are the essential components of a successful L&D strategy?
That’s the silver bullet, right? If I was to distill it, it would be three pieces:
- Focus on the activities that produce the biggest performance outcomes. This delivers ROI to a business’s bottom line.
- Build solutions that are solving problems that people actually have. Gather data to figure out what this is.
- Understand that you need to build a brand and market your strategy to your business. Get better at telling the story of why people should care about this strategy and how it will help them and the business.
Q: What are the trends in Learning and Development?
There are so many, aren’t there? My advice would be to filter out the noise where possible. Everyone will want to tell you that this shiny new thing is the answer to all your problems, but you’ll generally find keeping to the basics of what you’re doing and investing in that is what provides the best returns.
Q: What podcasts, blogs, and books about L&D can you recommend?
I have to be cheeky here and do some shameless self-promotion.
I have my blog, Steal These Thoughts, where I share my experiences from the past 15 years in L&D, career development, and high performance. In addition, I have a weekly newsletter where I share a big thought once a week if that interests you. Plus, an ad-hoc podcast and video series on YouTube – I like to keep busy.
So many great people in the space, and I would recommend you check out:
- How People Learn by Nick Shackleton Jones
- The Learning and Development podcast with David James
- Myles Runham’s Digital Learning blog
- How to deliver great L&D experiences on a shoestring budget from Caroline Ford
- The L&D Disrupt podcast from HowNow
- The Filtered team blog has so many insights on how to curate content and solve the content overwhelm we all face in today’s world.