I’ve been away for a while, and one day I’ll fill you in on all of the big and wonderful things that have happened in the last few months that contributed to my absence. Of all of the large events that have taken place in my life between December 2021 and now, the most immediate is the start of my new job.

In my previous role, I had the opportunity to start a training function from scratch. While that in itself is not unusual (especially as more organizations realize the need for solid L&D) the fact that the endeavor resulted in the placement of an entire (pretty large) team of ID and L&D professionals is. As Director of Training, I was responsible for all things training – everything from creating job aids and workshop agendas to vetting and implementing company-wide systems (KMSs, LMSs, LXPs, DAPs, etc.). There was an entire vocabulary built around L&D terms. Since I was at a software company, I made sure to communicate the difference between a “superuser” and a “SME”, between “training” and “consultation”, and several other topics that could foster ambiguity in the growth of a L&D department within that context.

I’ve been entrusted to serve as the inaugural Vice President of Learning & Development at my new company, and I couldn’t be more excited! The ask is very similar: launch the L&D department. However, there are some existing people, processes and tools in place, so not entirely from scratch. Also, the industry is very different. This is why having a solid design perspective is key. While outputs and solutions are not always directly transferrable, design principles are.

  1. My very first action was to begin finding out as much as possible about the learners – their professional and educational backgrounds, life situations, and anything else that may impact how (or where) they learn. Stepping into a brand new learning situation without doing a deep learner analysis is a HUGE mistake.
  2. Simultaneously, I’m learning about the industry, to lend credibility to any new solutions and to be able to “talk the talk”. All learning solutions have to be in the context of the industry (relevance).
  3. Also simultaneously, I’m learning about current state. Not building from scratch has its advantages. You can leverage the current expertise and assess from there. No need to reinvent the wheel if not necessary. On the flip side, sometimes not building from scratch requires acclimation to any changes or updates that are made. As a learning professional, you must be sensitive to that for the sake of the both the learner and the current learning architect.

I cannot commit to a single new objective nor goal, nor implement any programs without at least an understanding of those items. Once I have a firm grasp on the full situation, then it’ll be time to begin examining solutions; but not a moment sooner.

Any training/L&D department launchers out there? How did you ramp up?


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