That being said, L&D specialists, particularly those in senior management positions, may still regularly encounter a distinct lack of any organisational ‘line of sight’ from the overall strategic intent (i.e. organisational vision and associated strategies) through to how staff capability is managed and integrated into company culture and direction. Capability integration, or the lack of, can be a driver for commercial success or failure.
During the global recessions of the 1980's, 1990's and the start of the new millennium, as companies sought to protect themselves from soaring inflation and higher tax burdens, it was not uncommon to find that an early casualty in the financial number crunching exercises of the day was investment in staff.
Unfortunately, this very lack of investment is often cited as one of the reasons companies fail during a recession.
Without staff there isn’t an organisation. It follows that, without suitably knowledgeable staff in the right positions at the right time, organisations can struggle to remain competitive and lose their ‘edge’. In the worst cases, such as during a recession, companies can fail to secure lucrative contracts where they cannot adequately demonstrate the skills and abilities required.
So the first thing senior executives should recognise is that it pays to invest in the knowledge capability of their organisations, and not overlook it as just another overhead, particularly during retrenchment exercises.
In order to strengthen overall organisational capability, there should be a reciprocal relationship between what the company is trying to achieve (the strategic direction) and how the company will achieve it (including developing the organisational skills it needs to achieve it).
In order to bring L&D front and centre and be able to influence key decision makers within an organisation, L&D/training leaders need to be a key component of the overall strategic development of the organisation, and this means integrating the L&D strategy and plans into the overall direction of those organisations.
In short, the development of any strategy, program or project must have at its heart the learning and development of its workforce. If not, attempts to sustain progress, create business growth, achieve competitive advantage and demonstrate adequate Return On Investment will be stifled by lack of knowledge and capability in the very areas of the business that need it.
How many times have you been involved in the development of a business, key commercial program or project, and the last thing anyone thinks of is the required knowledge and capability needed to deliver the solution?
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (2010). The impact of economic recession on business strategy planning in UK companies. Research Executive Summary Series. Volume 6. Issue 9. Retrieved from: http://www.cimaglobal.com/Documents/Employer%20docs/R268%20Economic%20recession%20final%20V2.pdf and accessed on 13th October 2016. Nottingham Trent University.
Gulati, Nohria and Wohlgezogen (2010). Roaring Out of Recession. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession and accessed on 12th October 2016. Harvard Business Review.
Kitching, Blackburn, Smallbone and Dixon (2009). Business Strategies and Performance During Difficult Economic Conditions. Retrieved from: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/5852/1/Kitching-J-5852.pdfand and accessed on 11th October 2016. Department for Business Innovations and Skills.
UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2013). Training in Recession: The impact of the 2008-2009 recession on training at work. Evidence Report 72. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button and accessed on 11th October 2016. UKCES.