Learning's Critical Role in Organizational Change

Change is so ubiquitous that it’s barely headline material these days. For many of us, it’s the same old same old. So, new research from i4cp and ATD—Culture and Change: Protecting and Shaping Culture During Transitionslooked beyond the SOSO to see what’s different. The difference we found is performance. In high-performance companies, the changes taking place are different. So are the strategies for handling them.

In market-leading organizations, big changes tend to be positive—a major transformation is nearly 2x more likely to mean the business is expanding. For lower-performing companies, substantial change is more than 4x more apt to signal significant downsizing.

Another twice-as-likely differentiator for high-performance organizations is their choice to make the talent development, or learning and development (L&D), function a key player before, during, and after major transformations take place.

At The Home Depot, Agilent Technologies, and other leading companies that participated in the research, talent development functions play varied, but always active roles. L&D may step up to help plan and execute change initiatives, create innovative training programs to strengthen and spread successful organizational cultures, or leverage learning to shape and establish new cultures when total change occurs. When L&D takes its place as a change-and-culture catalyst, organizations report better market performance and better organizational learning.

A white paper that summarizes the key findings from the research is now available for i4cp members. The white paper offers several recommendations for how L&D can and must foster change within organizations, including:

  1. Have a presence in high places – ensure learning is among the topics factored into change or culture discussions
  2. Collaborate with other functions
  3. Involve everyone when culture is at stake
  4. Carefully weigh more-of-a-good-thing versus build-something-new options

For more detail on these recommendations:

  1. Download the white paper
  2. Watch an on-demand webinar
Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.