L&D critical to business transformation but needs more innovation

L&D critical to business transformation but needs more innovation

Filter tag: Culture & Organisational Effectiveness, Leadership Capability

Organisational transformation has become the ‘new normal’ with the vast majority (86 per cent) of organisations having had recent experience with transformation, according to a new study.

Harvard Business Publishing’s 2018 State of Leadership Development report, which explores challenges facing leadership development professionals, also found that organisations that view leadership and development as strategically critical continue to outperform their peers.

Nonetheless, while successful transformation starts with changing learning and development (L&D) programmes to support new business objectives, three-quarters of executives surveyed reckon their transformation programmes need improvement.

In both Harvard’s 2016 and 2018 studies, results showed that revenue growth, market position, and future growth potential were all stronger in organisations where L&D was thought to be closely aligned and valued by the business.

“What we’ve learned this year that really emphasises the value of best-in-class L&D programmes is their role in successful transformations,” said Ian Fanton, senior vice president and head of corporate learning at Harvard Business Publishing

“That’s why it’s concerning that still today many leadership development initiatives are missing the mark with insufficient innovation, lack of top-down support and questionable programme effectiveness. In this age of transformation, organisations that focus on agility and alignment with the business will be better positioned to transform their businesses today and tomorrow.”


Other key survey findings were:

  • 66 per cent of organisations that see L&D as critical to success felt they had a stronger market position than their competitors
  • 69 per cent of organisations that indicated L&D was “important to critical to their business’ success” stated their revenues have grown (up to 10 percent) in the last two years
  • 57 per cent of respondents from such organisations reported that L&D has a major, positive impact on their organisation’s ability to promote leaders from within.

But the report stressed that more work is needed to improve the quality of programmes and to make L&D a strategic priority in organisations. Despite some conflicting perceptions among respondents regarding L&D’s effectiveness, as much as 75 per cent of the L&D executives in the survey said they recognise the need for some improvement in the programmes they design.


  • 80 per cent of respondents stated that greater innovation is still needed in learning techniques used in development programmes.
  • While senior managers in L&D cited a high level of C-suite support, line of business (LOB) practitioners expressed more skepticism about the amount of support their L&D teams receive from the C-suite. This misalignment is a significant challenge especially for companies undergoing transformations, as L&D programs are most successful when there is consistent and clear messaging from L&D and LOB leaders.


share: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn E-mail