You could argue the most effective thing an L&D professional can do is ‘Get out of the way’

Chris Skinner
5 min readMay 19, 2021


You could argue the most effective thing an L&D professional can do is ‘Get out of the way’! After all don’t we want people to learn & experience new things on the job, figure things out for themselves & learn from their colleagues. In my experience we don’t do this because we feel the need to do things to the business (from our expert opinion) to justify our position or even worse we talk about 70:20:10 and then spend all our time focusing on some type of learning intervention & living in the 10.

And when it is so easy to Google or use YouTube to learn new skills, find out what we need to know or even find the course that we need, are L&D professionals becoming less & less relevant? If you believe, as I do, that if somebody wants to learn, grow or develop that they will drive this themselves, find the right learning for them at the right time & that all the best development happens on the job anyway — the answer just might be yes.

I believe it’s time to shift away from L&D (I don’t think L&D teams will be a part of the future of work) and move towards Organizational Effectiveness/Excellence & Performance Coaching.

We talk about the need to reskill the people in the businesses we work for but what about us — I think we need to reskill ourselves to become performance coaches, project managers, problem solvers & be the catalyst for change to make an organization more effective.

This is a different focus and would enable us to only work on the game changing ideas that will truly move the organization forward & have the space to provide in the moment coaching/performance support for our people that truly makes a difference.

How great would it be if we were able to drive the business forward with the one thing that will make the biggest difference to the performance/effectiveness of it’s people this year, put all your energy behind it & do it right — For example, create & foster a coaching culture, create a platform for knowledge to be shared, improving the collective knowledge of your business, upskilling managers/teams to own their development or whatever it has been researched will be the game changers for your business. This idea is inspired by Greg McKeown’s Essentialism articulated beautiful by this diagram.

You may challenge back and say what about company specific resources (who will create the training that shows a barista how to make a coffee for example), who will build the induction framework & who’s going to design a career journey without an L&D team.

I have a couple of suggestions for you

1. User Generated Content — run campaigns to fill your resources with content generated by the people for the people

2. Place these type of responsibilities in the heart of the business, with people that do these jobs on a daily business. Have Workplace Skills Creators/Designers that report into the person responsible for that business area — align workplace skills with the business who own the end product. Under the role of Organizational Effectiveness & Performance Coach you will be there to support on the best learning transfer method or framework design

Wouldn’t you be better letting the sales department work together to design a framework of skills that work for them, that they own and drive?

Wouldn’t you want an induction created by the business, for the business as they will be the ones delivering it.

But what if these things aren’t on the businesses agenda, what if their focus is elsewhere, this will never get done without an L&D team pushing it?

I think this raises some interesting questions — Lets use the example of an induction framework

If their focus is elsewhere, that’s probably where it needs to be at this moment in time so leave it alone. If having a framework to induct people becomes a priority to them, they will want to do something about it then & will hopefully own the work if they have been enabled to do so.

Does it matter that they don’t have a formal induction framework? You will need to look at what is happening around your business to answer that question, do most people leave in the first 3 months, do people stay but are they ineffective in their role for a long period of time.

This is where the time and effort put in to look at the big picture for your organization can pay off — if you uncover that the need for a formal induction framework will be the biggest game changer for your business this year/over the next 6 months — then you can start to inspire/influence the business to focus on this now.

As an Organizational Excellence team we should be looking for our highest level of contribution: the right thing, the right way, at the right time (source essentialism by Greg McKeown — Again)

3. Last year I read about the excellent work that Buffer did (read here) on Task Forces.

You could create task forces from people who deliver this work daily or are passionate about the subject, to deliver the result you want. This is also great for the people’s involved on the job development as well.

Our role in this would be in identifying the need, the bringing together of Task Forces and potentially facilitating the sessions.

For some people/businesses this will be a huge but important shift, for others they are already there or doing it even better than I have just articulated.

I think it is important to appreciate that we can’t do everything & own the topics of Learning, Development, Leadership, Performance, (I could go on) on our own — this is not sustainable or effective long term for one team.

Discovering the game changers under the guise of Organizational Excellence means that some of the other topics (that we feel like we should help fix, provide the solution for), like an induction framework for example will not get looked at this year, but I don’t believe that is the worst thing we could do.

Recently I was reading about something called Masterly Inactivity — knowing when doing nothing is the best option — which in my experience is something L&D are not very good at.

But Masterly Inactivity means we are letting people figure it out for themselves & resisting the urge to jump in a provide an answer. People need to fail and learn, adapt, adjust, fail and learn again, for me this is the essence of learning.

With us focusing on the game changers and providing in the moment performance coaching that our people need right now and letting the right things slide into masterly inactivity I believe we can ensure we are more relevant & more impactful than ever before.



Chris Skinner

Helping you find your way by shining a light on what is in front of you, so you can make the right move for you.