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A True Learning Organisation is known for its Agility & Adaptability to Change

Dr Sujaya Banerjee is an HR professional for over 22 years and one of the founders of L&OD Roundtable, a knowledgesharing and practice building forum for learning and HR practitioners. She shares a thorough overview on L&OD Roundtable with People & Management and highlights the unique value proposition and work that the forum is doing to build a scalable and sustainable learning practice across organisations in India.

What is the idea behind Learning & Organisation Development (L&OD) Roundtable?

We started off in 2008 with the primary objective of providing application oriented knowledge to practicing HR/Learning & OD professionals. We observed that while there were a number of existing forums for HR professionals in India, the community was still bereft of a forum where members could learn from each other’s successes and failures; where the focus was fundamentally on equipping professionals with the perspectives and tools required to build learning organisations and deliver on key transformational agendas. Thus, the Learning & OD Roundtable was created to bring together like-minded professionals, and offer a much needed platform for building capability among HR/Learning & OD Practitioners in India. We started off as a motley group of 13 people and now have around 3600 members based out of India and different parts of South East Asia.

As this concept is still new to India, what are the challenges you faced/are facing in developing a learning culture in India?

The journey towards building and institutionalising a learning culture follows a rather evolved path, and thus does not follow naturally in every organisation/setting. In the business environment we work in India, I have seen two fundamental challenges on this front:

• Firstly, often times, the strategic & transformational agenda in organisations is entrusted to HR, who tend to come from a transactional background and thus have limited perspectives and exposures to be able to drive these agendas to fruition

• Secondly, the Head of Learning in most organisations is typically at a mid-management position, except in large conglomerates/MNCs. This means the learning agenda rarely gets the requisite backing and support to deliver on its potential for the organisation, often limiting itself to a coordination role

The L&OD Roundtable is a knowledge-sharing and practice building forum for learning and HR practitioners. What methodology is followed to serve the purpose at large?

The L&OD Roundtable was institutionalised to enable members to create Learning Organisations within their own enterprises by offering application-oriented learning through master classes, knowledge sharing sessions, concept-to-practice sessions etc. The essential model has always been simple; ‘everyone shares; everyone grows’.

The Master Class is a very popular format where a leading HR/learning practitioner shares his/her insights on a relevant HR/OD theme. Eminent thought leaders like Roy Pollock, Curt Coffman, Arun Wakhlu, Adil Malia and Porus Munshi have conducted Master Classes for the Learning & OD Roundtable. In addition to this, we also organise Concept-to-Practice sessions and knowledge sharing sessions.

One of our most popular Master Class formats is L&OD INSIGHT which features 7 speakers who speak for 17 minutes on topical HR/L&OD themes. We also organise the Big Debate twice a year, and invite subject matter experts to share their views/concerns/opinions on relevant themes concerning HR practitioners.

We recently launched our Webinar Series titled L&OD Windows and have now conducted four Webinars in the last six months. Over 300 people log in to view our Webinars, accessible on demand throughout the year from our website (

Why, according to you, should an organisation implement learning, and how does it help employees vis-a-vis achieving business goals?

A learning organisation ensures that the organisation develops competencies and capabilities at a rate that is faster than the sum total of changes in the environment. Thus, a true learning organisation is known for its agility and adaptability to change.

When it comes to learning in the context of business goals, the L&OD Roundtable strongly endorses Wick, Pollock and Jefferson’s six disciplines of breakthrough learning approach for ensuring maximum learning transfer. Most organisations consider the end of a Learning Programme to be the finishing line for that intervention and measure effectiveness through feedback forms and participant satisfaction indices. This has unfortunately led to many Learning Professionals becoming Training Co-coordinators who often organise Learning Programmes ad-hoc without measuring impact on business/considering the need of the Training Programme (in the first place). I believe that learning professionals should have a structured discussion with the Programme Sponsor to define the need for the Learning Programme and clearly articulate success factors as part of the Define Stage. This should then be followed by identification of the relevant Target Group for whom the programme would be most meaningful and finalising the most effective instructional design mechanism. The design phase should be followed by application oriented delivery of the actual intervention post which, a rigorous drive and deploy process, should be implemented to ensure breakthrough learning. This can be done by providing postsession reading material, organising interactions with the facilitator, creating discussion threads, knowledge sharing, coaching sessions, and a lot, lot more!

How does your L&OD initiative help in talent management and skill development, thus leading to employment generation in India?

As I mentioned earlier, we make a concerted effort to offer application-oriented knowledge on key HR/ L&OD themes and keep the dialogue going through our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc).

The L&OD Roundtable also has a dedicated social networking platform on its website called L&OD Connect which is possibly India’s only dedicated social networking platform for HR Practitioners. This allows members to create posts/ask questions to subject matter experts and partake in discussion threads and keeps the dialogue going. In addition to this, we organise an annual study which culminates into our annual seminar and awards event. Each entry is evaluated by a distinguished jury and finalists with the key observations from the jury evaluations and efficacy parameters being shared at the seminar. The objective is to ensure that everyone “Learn and Grow”. It is a long road ahead but judging by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the industry and academia, we have been successful in building capability among our members within a short time span.

Can you share future growth plans of L&OD Roundtable?

We have been receiving requests to open chapters in different parts of India for the last year and a half. It gives me great pride to inform you that we are now launching our L&OD Roundtable chapters in Pune and Delhi and shall launch the Singapore Chapter later this year. The Singapore Chapter in particular will re-emphasise that the L&OD Movement is now a Pan-Asia movement, which is very gratifying since we started off as a group of 13 members only three years ago.

What are your biggest achievements and priorities for the future?

We organised the pioneering Best Learning Organisations of Asia Study in December 2011 for the very first time in the world. This culminated in the Best Learning Interventions of Asia Seminar and Awards which saw over 250 senior HR leaders participating in a day-long conference, with keynotes, a CXO forum (featuring luminary HR heads) and nine finalist organisations sharing their stories. Tata Motors and BRAC (Bangladesh) were the overall winners in the large and medium/ small categories, respectively.

In December 2012, we initiated the Best Change Interventions of Asia Study to celebrate exemplary change efforts and transformation stories in the dynamic Asian cultural and business milieu. This shall now lead into the Best Change Interventions of Asia Seminar and Awards, where 12 finalist organisations shall share their Change Stories. In addition to this, we will have a keynote address on “Transforming India - How India can truly become a Superpower” to be delivered by Sudhir Vasudeva, CMD, ONGC, and a panel discussion on “Grassroots Level Transformation” featuring eminent social reformists. The seminar will take place on July 2, 2013 at Sofitel, Bandra Kurla Complex (Mumbai). We are expecting a quorum of 300 HR practitioners at the event.








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