George Bernard Shaw famously and unfairly wrote:
“He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”
A better and fairer quote from Lee Shulman paraphrasing the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is:
“Those who can, do. Those that understand, teach.”
Whatever your perspective, clearly teaching, training and learning is critical in the world of work. Every business and organization needs its personnel to learn and develop new skills. Arguably more now than ever before as technology and globalization and the pandemic transform how people work.
It’s therefore good timing that ISO, the International Organization for Standardization has just released a new standard in the space. ISO 30422:2022 “Human resource management — Learning and development”, which covers how to manage learning and development in the workplace.
The best international standards communicate the understanding of experts to allow everyone to follow good practices without reinventing the wheel. Such standards are one of the unseen motors of commerce, making the world more efficient. German economists have suggested that in the decade and a half after German reunification, the general use of standards added around 0.7% to 0.8% per annum to German GDP growth.
ISO 30422 is a guidance standard, sharing good practices. It covers both formal and informal learning and provides high-level guidance on effective processes to manage and evaluate learning and development in the workplace. There is nothing to accredit or certify against and no technical interoperability specifications. Simply, useful guidance on learning and development.
ISO 30422 is part of a family of HR standards produced by the ISO TC/260 technical committee. Other standards in the family include a standard on diversity and inclusivity (ISO 30415) and a standard on assessments in the workplace (ISO 10667). See my earlier blog on the details of the ISO standard for testing and assessment for more information.
Development of the standard was led by Professor Valerie Anderson of Portsmouth University in the UK. The working group comprised people from four continents and involved several interested bodies including the ATP. I was pleased to be one of the working group members, helping particularly in the parts of the standard that reference assessment.
At the core of the standard is the Plan Do Check Act cycle of:
- Identify learning and development needs at the organization, group, or individual level;
- Plan learning and development by identifying resources and methods
- Implement and assess, and then evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of the L&D
- Feeding back to repeat the cycle.
The standard is concise at around 17 pages plus an introduction. The sections are:
- Normative references (none)
- Terms and definitions
- Organizational context for learning and development
- Identify learning and development needs
- Plan learning and development
- Implement learning and development
- Evaluate learning and development effectiveness and outcomes
There are two annexes, one on commonly used learning methods and one on examples of metrics. A bibliography references to other ISO standards and various materials on learning and development including by Kirkpatrick, Philips, and Thalheimer.
Let me share a couple of quotations, not as pithy as those from Aristotle and Shaw, but give a flavor of the standard.
Here is some guidance from the planning section:
“Learning and development planning recognizes that learning occurs formally and informally. Most work-related learning occurs in applied settings in the workplace. Learning by individuals rarely occurs in isolation and the team or group in which work is carried out is an important setting for learning to be achieved.”
And here is a useful reminder from the assessment section:
“Assessments should be valid, reliable and fair. Validity refers to whether the assessment measures what it is supposed to measure. A reliable assessment scores consistently and with little error. A fair assessment is impartial and free from subjectivity and bias.”
If you are a seasoned learning and development professional, there will be little in the document to surprise you. However, the standard gives a broadly accepted and practical view of how to manage learning and development in an HR context. If you are coming into learning and development or would like to check whether what you are doing reflects good practice, it will be a useful read.
ISO 30422:2022 is available in both English and French from the ISO website and like other ISO standards, it is chargeable.
How valuable and important is the standard? Only time will tell. But let me finish with a quotation from David Haselkorn:
“Teaching is the essential profession, the one that makes all other professions possible.”
Every department and team depends on growing the skills of its people. How an organization conducts learning and development influences significantly how and whether each department, each team, and the whole organization meets its goals.
Any ISO standard that can contribute to improving learning and development is worthy.