The Rapidly Evolving Role of L&D in an AI-Powered World

Apr 16, 2024 by Matt Burr

Get Our Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest expert commentary, analysis, and news onĀ enterprise learning and capability academies delivered straight to your inbox.

This is our first blog post in a series on how we think AI is impacting learning. You can read our statement on our own approach to AI in Learning here.

The rise of artificial intelligence is poised to dramatically disrupt the corporate learning and development (L&D) function. Tasks that once took humans months to complete will soon be accomplished by machines in mere minutes. As a result, the demands on and expectations for L&D teams are shifting substantially.

Traditionally, L&D has been a cost center focused on delivering content and experiences like leadership offsites and e-learning modules. While crafting impactful learning experiences will remain central to L&D's mission, a critical new responsibility is emerging; generating rich conversational data that makes the entire organization smarter.

L&D will need to go beyond simple post-training surveys to capture the authentic voices of employees working together to improve their skills and capabilities. Organizations that harness these insights will gain a dramatic advantage in understanding their workforce's needs and enhancing their learning initiatives.

Concurrently, as AI automates more routine tasks, employees will be left to tackle the most creative, complex, and quintessentially human challenges. L&D will be asked to do fewer things but with much greater depth and effectiveness. The focus will shift to developing essential human skills like judgment, discernment, taste, delegation, persuasion and listening.

The popular "skills-based" approach to L&D, which maps the organization as a network of capabilities embodied in employees, is being squeezed from two directions. First, the sheer volume and short half-life of skills in the modern workplace is making it impossible to keep pace. Second, the truly differentiating skills in an AI-dominated world will be timeless human capabilities. The only sustainable solution is to equip people with the meta-skill of learning how to learn.

L&D professionals must resist the urge to cover every skill, and instead focus ruthlessly on the vital few that will drive outsized impact if improved - areas like leadership judgment and decision-making in context.

The pressure to adapt is intense and the timeline short. CLOs who view this as a distant future are likely underestimating the pace of change. Building the muscles to deliver powerful, conversation-rich learning experiences that yield transformative growth and generate valuable data is a 2024 imperative, not a far-off possibility.

Skills taxonomies and competency models will still have their place, but the core mandate of L&D will be empowering employees to develop rapidly in the moment, independently discerning what skills they need and continually enhancing their ability to acquire those skills.

In summary: L&D must urgently rise to a dual challenge - becoming not just a provider of experiences, but also a source of rich workforce insights, while focusing not on an endless array of skills, but on the vital human capabilities that will define success in an AI world.

A Human-Centered Approach to AI

Like most organizations, Nomadic is trying to figure out how we want to approach, adopt and sometimes resist AI. Our answer is to stay human-centered.

Kim Milhoan on 4 years at Nomadic

There's never a boring day! Because we are a small organization and our staff has so many varied talents, we are always contributing beyond our defined role.

Eduardo Torres on his 3 year work anniversary

In an AI-world, L&D professionals must resist the urge to cover every skill, and instead focus ruthlessly on the vital human skills that will drive outsized impact when improved.