The Adaptive Challenge of Development

I hate to say this but at times I feel like I am a willing participant in a problem that exists in leadership development. Over $365 Billion dollars are invested in leadership development globally every year. That is a HUGE number and how confident are we that we are getting value for that expenditure. Many organisations don’t measure it and most hope there is some transfer of learning post the development experience without realising there are systemic constraints that don’t allow that transfer to happen the way it is intended.

As many of you know I am a development and growth enthusiast and one of the big adaptive challenges/conundrums I see in organisations is this challenge around individuals transferring their learning from a development experience (program/360 feedback) into meaningful development and growth. Individuals often have a great learning experience, gain insights, identify actions, and even experiments, but struggle to get traction.

This is a systemic issue at both an organisational level (for example, low learner safety or we are busy being busy) and at an individual level (inner core beliefs to not knowing where to start).

I have been interested in this conundrum for some time and I realise like many providers of development experiences I am also part of the problem and therefore I want to be part of changing the dial on this challenge. I may not be able to but I am going to have a good crack at it.

So I have decided to embark on my own journey of experimentation through an action research project over the next 10 – 12 months.

I kick started this work in March this year where I am interviewing those responsible for leadership development/capability/talent in over 20 organisations as well as a bunch of executive coaches that I admire to help better understand their lived experience within their organisations and with their clients. So far the data has been illuminating. If you responsible for leadership development in your organisation and are interested in being interviewed then please reach out.

Like all experiments I want to test and learn and whilst running these interviews I am also building a “Development Scaffolding” process (integrating the feedback collected) to see if we can help people to get better traction on their development. I want this process to be data driven and for participants to test with a true experimental mindset. This beta testing will be free for up to 100 people who want to shift the dial in their development but may feel stuck. If you want to be part of this free process please reach out as well. I will be formally seeking people in the next couple of months – all you need is an aspiration to get better at something.

Over the next 12 months I am going to write about my journey and whether we can make progress on this big challenge. I am also open to the idea that maybe we can’t and that’s ok besides an experimental mindset is attached to the learning and not success.

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